Stanley Cup 2012: Kings Players That Must Come Up Big for Series Sweep

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVJune 4, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 02: Darryl Sutter of the Los Angeles Kings looks on from the bench with Jeff Carter #77 and Dustin Brown #23 against the New Jersey Devils  during Game Two of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Center on June 2, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Saying that the Los Angeles Kings have had it their way this postseason would be the understatement of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

They've reeled off an outstanding 14 wins in their playoff run while just losing two, and perhaps the most amazing part of all is that those two losses came at home. That's right—they've yet to lose on the road as they take the NHL by storm and inch closer and closer to their first Stanley Cup.

After a mediocre 2011-12 regular season in which they finished 29th in goals scored, they've notched four goals or more in seven of their playoff games—all wins. They've made it happen with a stud between the pipes and players getting it done in late-game situations.

Without big performances from these Kings players, Los Angeles could find themselves doing something uncharacteristic in Games 3 and 4—losing. 

Jonathan Quick

Quick was so vital to keeping the Kings afloat throughout most of a regular season that they had to make a late-season surge just to get into the playoffs with the No. 8 seed in the West. 

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NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 02:  Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings tends goal against the New Jersey Devils during Game Two of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Center on June 2, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty I
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

His goals allowed per game average of 1.44 would have him as a shoe-in for the Vezina Trophy if he were to put similar, scorchingly-low numbers up during the regular season. He's also saved almost 95 percent of his shots.

He's allowed one goal or less in 10 of the Kings' 16 playoff games, with three of those being decided in overtime.

Goalies are at more of a premium than ever in the NHL and especially in the playoffs. Quick is proving that as he is two solid performances shy of skating away with a Stanley Cup and playoff-MVP-worthy postseason.

Dustin Brown

Kings captain Dustin Brown will have the likes of Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter to thank if L.A. wins this series.

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 02: Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates after Jeff Carter #77 (not pictured) scores the game winning goal in overtime against the New Jersey Devils during Game Two of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Cent
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Despite playing arguably his best hockey ever early throughout these playoffs against Vancouver and St. Louis, he's disappeared in the Stanley Cup Finals. He played a solid 27 minutes in the overtime affair in Game 2, and somehow refused to tally one shot on goal.

It speaks volumes to the way the Kings are playing that they are up 2-0 in this final series without a major contribution from their captain. Thankfully for him, they're getting just enough help to get past New Jersey in two tight games. 

It's no secret that Los Angeles needs to call upon Brown to play his best hockey again. With the way these games are being played, the Devils could get back in this series in a blink of an eye.

Simon Gagne

Kings forward Simon Gagne hasn't played since December 26, but he's confirmed to be in the lineup for a Game 3 that could put the Devils on the brink of elimination, according to Lisa Dillman of Los Angeles Times

His emergence into the lineup is mainly due to his recovery from a six-month-long injury, obviously, but the Kings may feel like his experience in New Jersey's Atlantic Division. He played 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers and absolutely has as much experience, if not more, on how to get goals past the ever-playing Martin Brodeur. 

Despite Kings wins in both Game 1 and Game 2, they struggled at times to find the net and to get past Brodeur, who has quietly had a stellar series. Los Angeles can't expect Quick to continue letting up just one goal per game, so they'll do all they can to get a few extra scoring chances.

A big performance by Gagne in Game 3 could help to seal the deal for the Kings and would come just in time for him to make his mark on their Stanley Cup run.