Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Scouting the Stanley Cup final: Devils vs. Kings

Who won the season series?

The Devils won both meetings in typical Devils fashion: 2-1 in a shootout in New Jersey and 3-0 in Los Angeles, but pay no attention to those results. The games were played way back in October. They were different teams back then. New Jersey was 12-12-1 through Dec. 3, then went 36-16-5 the rest of the way. The Kings were 15-14-4 when coach Darryl Sutter took over and stormed back into the playoff race with a 25-13-11 record.

Also, Johan Hedberg was New Jersey's goalie of record in both games. Unless something goes drastically wrong for the Devils, Hedberg will not play in this series.

How did the teams get here?

The Kings were the eighth seed in the West, yet plowed through the top three seeds — Canucks, Blues and Coyotes — with just two losses. They haven't been threatened at all, taking 3-0 leads in all three series.

On the other hand, the Devils came this close to getting knocked out in the first round. They had to go to overtime to win both Games 6 and 7 to escape the opening round against the Panthers. Since then, they have pretty much cruised, dispatching the Flyers in five games and the top-seeded Rangers in six.

A history lesson

Okay, so Barry Melrose wasn't always a goof. Before he stumbled through 16 games as the alleged coach of the Lightning, he led the Kings to their only Stanley Cup final back in 1993 — the Lightning's inaugural season. Wayne Gretzky was the star of that team that lost to Jacques Demers' Canadiens.

Meantime, the Devils have been a model franchise pretty much since goalie Martin Brodeur started playing full time in 1993-94. They've qualified for the playoffs 16 times in 18 seasons. They've won three Cups (1995, 2000, 2003) in that span and reached the final another time (2001).

But this might surprise you: despite all that history, the Kings have four players who have won a Cup, while the Devils have only three.

Captain Americas

For the first time in Stanley Cup final history, both teams have captains born in the United States. New Jersey's captain is Zach Parise, a native of Minneapolis. Dustin Brown, raised in Ithaca, N.Y., wears the "C" for the Kings.

Brown leads the Kings in playoff scoring with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists), which is third overall. His plus-13 rating is tied for tops in the postseason with teammate Anze Kopitar. Meantime, Parise is tied for the team lead with seven goals and his 14 points are second on the team to Ilya Kovalchuk's 18.

Whoever wins will be the second American captain to lift the Cup. Michigan native Derian Hatcher won the 1999 Cup with the Stars.

The road warriors

The Kings are 8-0 on the road in the playoffs, outscoring their opponents 30-13. Since the league went to the conference-based playoff format in 1993-94, the Kings are the first team to be unbeaten on the road headed into the final. Two more road victories and they'll tie an NHL record.

Who has the better goalie?

Hard as this is wrap your brain around, you might have to take Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick over New Jersey's Martin Brodeur at the moment. Crazy, right? Brodeur is a four-time Vezina Trophy winner and three-time Stanley Cup champ. He has played in 24 Cup final games, winning 15, with a 1.91 goals-against average. He will become the fifth goalie ever and the first since Jacques Plante in 1970 to appear in a Cup final game after his 40th birthday. But he isn't showing his age: He's 12-5 this postseason with a 2.04 GAA.

Quick, a finalist for this season's Vezina, is 26, just eight years older than one of Brodeur's kids. But he has been the story of these playoffs, leading the postseason in goals-against average (1.54) and save percentage (.946). Quick has allowed as many as three goals only twice in 14 playoff games.

Who might be an under-the-radar star?

Dwight King (fitting name, right?) could be the Kings' secret weapon. The rookie has five postseason goals, including two winners in the Western Conference final. Meantime, keep an eye on New Jersey's Bryce Salvador. He is second among defensemen in scoring with 11 points (three goals, eight assists). His 11 points are the most ever by a player who scored fewer than 10 points in at least 70 regular-season games. He had just nine points (with no goals) in 82 games this regular season.

Who will win the series?

Neither team is a juggernaut on paper. The Devils are the first sixth seed to reach the final since the 2004 Flames. The Kings join the 2006 Oilers as the only No. 8 seeds in the final. But you don't want to play either team right now.

Flip a coin. We'll go with the Kings in six.

Tom Jones can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8544 and can be heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620.

tom jones' two cents

Stanley Cup final

Devils vs. Kings

Tonight: at New Jersey, 8, Ch. 8

Saturday: at New Jersey, 8, Ch. 8

June 4: at Los Angeles, 8, NBCSN

June 6: at Los Angeles, 8, NBCSN

June 9: at New Jersey, 8, Ch. 8 *

June 11: at Los Angeles, 8, Ch. 8 *

June 13: at New Jersey, 8, Ch. 8 *

* If necessary

Scouting the Stanley Cup final: Devils vs. Kings 05/29/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 12:24am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl halftime show for first time since 'wardrobe malfunction'

    Celebrities

    Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

    Singer Janet Jackson covers her breast as Justin Timberlake holds part of her costume after her outfit came undone during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson cause a national controversy. [Associated Press]
  2. No more looking at Jim Harbaugh, but should we look at Notre Dame?

    College

    STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Overheard Sunday morning in a hotel elevator, among two Penn State fans: "Did you see Coach Harbaugh's interview? He looked shellshocked. One of those coaches with his job on the line."

    Jim Harbaugh and Michigan are falling out of the national conversation; Sunday they fell out of the AP rankings after a blowout loss to Penn State. [Detroit Free Press/TNS]
  3. NFL Week 7: What we learned

    Bucs

    Are the Purple People Eaters back in Minnesota? The Vikings sacked Joe Flacco five times and held the Ravens to 208 total yards in a 24-16 home victory, their third straight win. QB Case Keenum looked ordinary with a 67.7 passer rating after completing 20-of-31 for 188 yards and an interception. Kai Forbath …

    Trainers, top, check Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas after Thomas was hurt in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) OHTD122
  4. Bills' comeback against Bucs a win for the process

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It hasn't taken Sean McDermott long to understand how to play to his base. Asked if the Bills had "gotten away with one" Sunday, the first-year coach gushed about his team reflecting the character of the town.

    Under first-year coach Sean McDermott, the Bills are 3-0 at home for the first time in six years. “I love playing here,” he says.
  5. No. 18 UCF closes in on USF, which drops to No. 17

    College

    USF remained ahead of UCF in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday — just barely.