Tonight, the New Jersey Devils will look to extend their season one more game when they take on the Kings in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. The game—to be played in Los Angeles—comes on the heels of two straight season-saving wins for the Devils.
The Devils seemed all but doomed after falling down in the series 3-0, but they were able to win Game 4 on the road to avoid the sweep and then won a second game at home, spoiling the Kings' 10-0 road record in the playoffs.
Returning to Los Angeles, the Kings will look to put the Devils away once and for all by overwhelming and outplaying them, while the Devils will look to continue to build on their momentum and take it a game at a time.
The game is sure to be a dramatic one and will surely have a surprise or two.
Here are five players to keep an eye out for in Game 6 tonight.
Dwight King has been streaky this postseason, to say the least. The young winger has five goals this postseason, with all coming over the span of five games against St. Louis and Phoenix.
Outside of that, he has just one point in the entire playoffs—an assist against the Devils in Game 3.
It's hard to contain all of L.A.'s offensive weapons. Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown present their own challenges, but it's when the secondary players start producing that a team gets really scary. King—along with Jordan Nolan and Trevor Lewis—has begun to start showing signs of life.
If he can wake up again, even just for a goal, it could be enough to secure a Stanley Cup for his team.
David Clarkson might be the Devil best suited to playing against the Kings. He has good speed and offensive skill to go with his unquenchable thirst for blood.
Clarkson producing offensively would be huge in this series, but so would keeping up his physical play. He's one of the better hitters the Devils have, and if he's doing it right, it's going to be wearisome on the other team.
On top of that, he does have the offensive ability. This season, Clarkson scored a career-high 30 goals and 46 points. In the postseason, his goals have been few and far between, but at the best possible times—all three have been game-winners, with one being the series-winning goal against the Flyers. He's also added nine assists.
Dustin Brown is the Kings' captain. He is a superb two-way player, a short-handed threat and a punishing hitter. He was also enjoying a very successful playoff run, with 16 points through the first three rounds.
The Devils have caused some struggles for him, though. In the five games so far, Brown has just one point (an assist) and eight shots.
It would also appear that Brown is getting frustrated with the series. For much of the playoffs, he seemed to be a role-model player: humble, a good leader, great defensively and clean. This series, though...my observations come as a Devils fan, but he seems shaken.
He complains to the refs more often, his hits seem to be more borderline and obviously his production has hit a wall.
As captain, Brown is the emotional leader of this team; he needs to keep his act together. It may take breaking through and scoring to get him out of his funk, but he needs to get back to playing like he was in earlier rounds if he wants his teammates to do the same.
Adam Henrique, the Devils' rookie phenom, is really making the most of his rookie campaign.
The center has four goals and eight assists, and three of those goals were game-winners, two of them series-clinchers.
Henrique's most recent point came in Game 4 against the Kings, when he became the first Devil to beat Jonathan Quick on a shot and score this series.
His surprising composure has kept the team alive more than once, and if the Devils continue to survive, Henrique will surely be a part of it.
Jonathan Quick is an amazing goalie; this season, he's been the best goalie in the world. His postseason stats are unreal (1.43 GAA, .946 save percentage), and he's pretty hard not to like.
The plain and simple is, in Game 5, Quick messed up. His pass behind the net turned into a Zach Parise goal, giving the Devils one of two leads they'd hold in the game.
That's nothing against Quick. Sure, it was bad, but it happens. All goalies screw up sometimes, and sometimes even in similar situations. That video leads to a goal Martin Brodeur allowed/caused in 2003. And do you know what he did after that? He won the Stanley Cup.
Quick screwed up. What comes next is much more important. The Kings are near the brink; one more loss and they'll be even with the Devils and will have lost all of that advantage they gained early on. It will be a lot harder to pull the team together if the goalie isn't 100 percent.
This is all about Quick mentally. There's no doubt he's good enough to beat the Devils. He's done it three times. But with momentum in the Devils' favor, can he maintain his composure for one more game?
I've said it before: For the Devils to win, Quick must not be on top of his game. Now that we've seen what that's like, the only question remaining is whether he can put it behind him.