Stanley Cup Finals 2012: 8 Most Important Plays for the Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings began the series by winning two games on the road, adding to their unprecedented 10 straight road game winning streak this postseason. The Kings followed up that performance by blanking the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 powered on the back of two power-play goals and a rock-solid penalty kill.
In order to understand how the series has played out, we will examine the eight most important plays for Los Angeles during the first three games of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.
Jonathan Quick's Kick Save
Where better to start than showcasing Jonathan Quick. The Vezina nominee is 15-2 this postseason with a 1.44 GAA and is playing like a Conn Smythe Trophy Winner leading the stellar penalty kill of the Kings.
During Game 2, the Devils were on the power play about to score their first goal with the man advantage against the Kings. Then, Jonathan Quick makes a great reflex kick save to maintain the 1-0 lead for Los Angeles.
Captain vs. Captain Advantage Goes to Dustin Brown
It's Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and each team is looking to assert their dominance early. Kings captain Dustin Brown sets the stage for the his team by laying a nice hit on his counterpart Zach Parise.
The hit did not lead to a goal or affect any scoring plays, but sent a message that Los Angeles will be the more physical team in this series.
That fact alone makes the Dustin Brown hit on Zach Parise vitally important to the Kings' success in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.
Persistance and Hustle Pays Dividends
The New Jersey Devils were down 2-0 heading to Los Angeles needing to win Game 3 in order to have any realistic hope of winning the 2012 Stanley Cup.
David Clarkson drives to the net and fires a hard wrist shot at Jonathan Quick who kicks away the shot leading to the offensive rush by the Kings.
On the offensive end, Dwight King fires a shot at Martin Brodeur, and then continues to whack at his pads searching for his sixth postseason goal. Then Alec Martinez comes in seemingly out of nowhere and seals the deal, pushing the puck into the net giving L.A. a 1-0 lead in Game 3.
The goal by Alec Martinez ended up being the game-winner, and set the stage for the excitement and raucous atmosphere that existed in the Staples Center.
Due in large part to the effort of Dwight King and Alec Martinez the Los Angeles Kings are one win away from hoisting the Cup over their heads.
Best One-Timer All Series
With the Kings leading the Devils 1-0 in Game 3, the L.A. crowd needed some breathing room on the scoring board, and their top line provided that spark.
After fending off a New Jersey offensive rush, Justin Williams rushes into the New Jersey offensive zone. Then, in dramatic fashion, Williams gives a drop pass to captain Dustin Brown.
At that moment, Brown sees Anze Kopitar driving towards the net and sends a cross ice pass to the Slovenian, who finishes the play with a great goal giving the Los Angeles Kings a 2-0 lead in Game 3.
This goal showcased the talent and chemistry that the Kings possess. The front line of Williams, Brown and Kopitar have caused havoc for defenses all postseason, with all three men adding over ten points.
The beautiful goal in Game 3 cemented a victory and shows why this team is too strong and composed as a unit to be beaten by the Devils.
Drew Doughty Running the Ship for Los Angeles
Drew Doughty has lived up to his huge offseason contract with the Kings and once again showcased his talent by scoring in Game 2.
Doughty grabs the puck at his own blue line in the first period and does the rest for his team. Looking closely at the play, Doughty maneuvers through three New Jersey players and then has the presence of mind to fire a wrist shot over the blocker of Martin Brodeur, giving the Kings a 1-0 lead.
The Canadian D-man took the puck right through the New Jersey defense, not only giving the Kings a lead in Game 2 but making sure everyone knew that he is the best player on the ice this series.
That kind of play can change the momentum of a series, building a strong reputation for a budding superstar like Doughty, making his goal all the more important to the Kings' success.
Anze Kopitar Game 1 OT Winner
Winning Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals means everything, and the Los Angeles Kings rode the great goal of Anze Kopitar towards a 2-1 victory in OT.
Once the puck gets possessed by Drew Doughty in his defensive zone, he makes a great pass off the boards to Justin Williams. Williams then feeds Kopitar a beautiful behind-the-back, no-look pass to the New Jersey blue line and the rest is history.
Kopitar rushes away from the defenders, one-on-one with Martin Brodeur and uses a tremendous fake to deke out the three-time Cup winner and shoot under the flailing goalie's right pad to give the Kings the win in Game 1.
This shootout style attack on Brodeur highlights the size, speed and skill of the first line center, Kopitar.
Kopitar's goal continued the Kings' undefeated mark on the road this postseason and gave them a 1-0 lead in the series, making it the starting point to their success in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Jonathan Quick Keeps Game 1 Tied
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With the game tied in the third period, the Devils and their fans believed they had scored past Jonathan Quick to take a 2-1 lead in Game 1.
Little did they realize that Quick fully extended his stick and stabbed away the shot from Zach Parise to prevent New Jersey from taking the lead.
This save kept Game 1 tied and has driven the stout Los Angeles defense during the Finals.
Without the heroics of Quick, the goal by Anze Kopitar may never have been possible, making this save the most important play from Game 1.
It may have been quite possibly the best play of the Finals for the Los Angeles Kings.
Jeff Carter's Game 2 Winner
Jonathan Quick's save in Game 1 was special, but the game winning goal in Game 2 by Jeff Carter is the most important play for the Kings during the Stanley Cup Finals.
Tied in overtime, the Los Angeles Kings relied on their midseason acquisition to supply the game-winning goal.
On the play, Carter circles around the entire New Jersey defense, creating an opening on the left point in front of Martin Brodeur. Miraculously the shot flies through a wall of Devils and Kings and past the blocker Brodeur to give the Kings a 2-1 OT victory.
The goal by Carter gave L.A. a stranglehold on the series by winning a second-straight overtime frame.
Carter, a midseason acquisition who underperformed much of the year, completely redeemed himself by being the man to score the game winning goal.
The drama supplied by Carter and the significance of this goal on the game makes it the most important play of the Stanley Cup Finals for the Los Angeles Kings.