Despite the great Martin Brodeur’s heroic efforts in carrying a dominant Devils team to the Cup Final for the fifth time since 1995, this year’s Stanley Cup Final seems to be advertised as the Devils and Kings being a parity matchup. Many discussions go so far to say that the days of ruling dynasties are over. On top of the Devils return to the familiar Final, the Kings have the deepest team in the league at every position and have seemed to breeze their way to the Cup Final. So upon further review, is this really the shocker of a Final that it’s been advertised? What is the real storyline to this year’s Cup Final?
Let’s properly observe the Los Angeles Kings. For anyone crowning the Kings as the cinderella team of the playoffs, think again. Here is a team that was falling off the way-side until the arrival of Darryl Sutter behind the bench. The acquisition of Jeff Carter at the trade deadline didn’t hurt either. Thus, reuniting one of the most romanticized tandems in the league, Carter and Richards. These two went to the Stanley Cup Final just two seasons ago with the Philadelphia Flyers and won gold for Canada at the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championships. Adding these two very experienced scorers acts as an injection of performance enhancers. Essentially, giving the Kings two devastating top lines and mix and match options with the likes of Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, and Dustin Brown. Not to mention the Vezina nominee in net, Jonathan Quick. In my opinion, he has the best chance of winning the goaltender of the year award. And let’s not forget about one of the best defensemen in the league, Drew Doughty, who has the ability to turn the game on a dime or Willie Mitchell who wants nothing less than to avenge his bitter Game 7 loss last year in the Stanley Cup Final.
On to the New Jersey Devils. With Marty Brodeur, need I say more? I mean.. can you really dismiss the greatness of Marty still? Nevermind his 3 Cup rings, or the way he’s carried the Devils to the Final yet again. The domination of this team just never seems to cease. In any case, the Devils, unlike any other year, have a certain offensive edge over every opponent they’ve faced. They completely demoralized the Flyers, the winners of the most offensive playoff series in NHL history. Then, they proceeded to play the best defensive team in the Eastern Conference, backed by a Vezina nominee in net, and once again dominated throughout the series. In that sense, the Devils seem to always have an edge. No matter how well you play your game, they’re going to counter attack and play theirs better. The Devils, too, have two top lines that seem to produce and dominate every single game. With Marty playing better than ever and Kovalchuk playing to his potential, the Devils seem unstoppable.
Respectively, the Kings and Devils seem to have virtually steam rolled through their opponents. It took the Devils until Game 6 against the Panthers in Round 1 to finally find their game and dial up the pressure. Of course, the Kings have done so more impressively, only losing two games along the way against the top three seeds in the Western Conference. Though they are not the ’8 seed’ that everyone labels them as. The way in which they’ve dominated every team is truly incredible. The Kings have illustrated, oh so perfectly, how to execute a gameplan to the highest intensity. The Devils on the other hand, have countered the most offensive and the most defensive teams in the East and relentlessly imposed their game on their opponents.. sucking the life out of each victim like an anaconda.
So what do I think will unfold? I think the Devils will take an early edge at home and take the first two games. I see the Kings bouncing back at home, led by the charge of Mike Richards. However, Marty an company will prove be ultimately too much. Hearts will break in Los Angeles once again. Marty will retire on top and further his legacy with another ring. Devils in six.
I don’t think people are realizing how good of a Stanley Cup Final this will be. The Devils are the ultimate test for the Kings and vise versa. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how these two teams handle each others’ dominance.
One thing is for sure, this will be a Stanley Cup Final to remember.