Stanley Cup Finals 2012: Biggest X-Factors That Can Spur Massive Devils Comeback
The Los Angeles Kings have won 10 straight games on the road and find themselves just two wins shy of the Stanley Cup. But can the New Jersey Devils make an incredible comeback? Game 3 is their next chance to give the Kings a taste of their own medicine. Here are the ways the Devils can embark on a monumental comeback.
The Kings had eight days of rest between their last Western Conference Finals game and their Stanley Cup opener against New Jersey. There were the usual discussions of whether too much time off would cool down the hottest goalie in hockey, but Jonathan Quick remains on top of his game. The keeper has only allowed two goals in the first two games of the finals.
Quick stopped 32 of 33 shots in Game 2 for Los Angeles, raising his postseason save percentage to a remarkable .947.
“We know Quickie’s back there,” said center Jarret Stoll. “He kind of calms us down too, with the way he plays and how great he is back there.”
While it’s understandable how collected Kings players are, you would think Devils players would show more signs of panic.
“We look at it like we just need to win one game,” Dainius Zubrus told NHL.com. “Honestly, I don’t look past that.”
But in order to win that one game, New Jersey needs to figure out a way to score more than just one goal a game.
The Devils had the right idea in Game 2, forcing plenty of turnovers with their forecheck and getting some quality chances on net. The team had 16 more shots than in Game 1.
It looked as though New Jersey was going to end it with 14 seconds left in the third period Saturday night, but forward Ilya Kovalchuk’s shot scraped off the crossbar.
The Devils need to learn from Kovalchuk’s near goal. Against Quick, every shot has to be up in the air—it has proven to be the only way of getting past him this spring. Quick falls to his knees on just about every shot taken, making it nearly impossible to score in the lower half of the net.
New Jersey's skaters need to get up in Quick's face. Shooting top shelf along with deflections down low are the Devils' only chances at scoring.
The Devils’ power play has to be more successful in Game 3. New Jersey has gone 0-for-6 on their power play in the finals.
Ilya Kovalchuk went as far as calling it “embarrassing.” “The power play has to be better,” he said (via ESPN) after falling 2-0 in the series on Saturday. “Those two games, we were just awful. We’ve got to be better.”
The Devils have scored a goal in nine of their 12 wins in the playoffs. Especially since goals are so hard to come by, New Jersey needs to find a way to convert on the Kings’ costly penalties.