The Devils won Game 4 of the series with a score of 3-1, destroying LA's hopes of a sweep. However, tonight's game is destined to be a much harder challenge for New Jersey.
Los Angeles is 10-0 on the road in these playoffs and will look punctuate their perfection with a Stanley Cup presentation in Newark tonight. Also, so far this postseason, the Kings have dropped two Game 4's while attempting to sweep their opponents only to bounce back with a Game 5 victory.
On the other hand, New Jersey has their own trend of victory that they will look to continue. This postseason, the Devils are 9-1 in Games 5-7 of a series. Their last loss in the latter half of a series came against the Florida Panthers in Game 5 of their first round matchup.
Simply put, New Jersey finds a way to figure out their opponents.
New Jersey's ability to adapt and evolve as these playoffs have proceeded may be what leads to any success in Game 5 against the Kings tonight.
In the third period of Game 4, the Devils were able to accomplish something that they had not done so far in this series: expose a weakness in Jonathan Quick's stellar game. Adam Henrique's game-winner on Wednesday night soared over Quick's blocker side high and into the back of the net.
Look for New Jersey's top-line, and recently dormant, forwards to target this same area when firing on the Kings' All-Star netminder.
Who will win Game 5?
Another bright side for New Jersey lies in Ilya Kovalchuk's ability to finally net a goal in this series, even if it was an empty netter in the closing minute of Game 4. This may help spark the confidence of the Russian sniper and fellow Devils star Zach Parise, who has so far been held scoreless in the Finals.
As far as tonight's game is concerned, look for New Jersey to try and feed off the momentum of a ravenous home crowd. The Devils know they are in the most vulnerable of positions and so do their fans. If New Jersey can get a lead early, a task that has alluded them mightily in these Finals, I predict that they will not relinquish it.
This is a veteran bunch that realizes they are not as overmatched as their 3-1 series deficit suggests.
If New Jersey can strike early (I believe Parise will end his scoreless drought with a quick goal), and play consistent defense throughout, I see them coming away with another victory, delaying the Kings' celebration by yet another game.
Prediction: 3-2 Devils