Stanley Cup Final Game 2: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Los Angeles Kings 2-1 New Jersey Devils (OT)
Kings Lead Series 2-0
What is this? I take a short break from my blog and two games have already been played? Who would have thought that two games in a playoff series would be played in four days? I guess I've been watching too much of the NBA Playoffs.
Anyway, what an exciting series so far! Two overtime games and a 2-0 series lead for the Kings. They have now reached the all-time record for road wins in a single playoffs with 10. Interestingly enough, they tie the mark set by the 1995 and 2000 New Jersey Devils en route to the Cup, which was also equaled by the 2004 Calgary Flames, who were also coached by Darryl Sutter. Even more amazing is the fact that the Kings have yet to surrender a road loss in these playoffs. I had thought the Devils would be good enough to end that streak in one of these two games, but the two overtime losses mean that they might not have another chance. Dropping the first two games at home puts them in a deep hole as the Stanley Cup Final heads to California for the first time since the Anaheim Ducks won it all in 2007. The Devils are still alive, and the Kings are not immortal at home, going 4-2 so far in the playoffs. But the Devils face two straight must-win games and must also find a way to win at least one game at home.
1. Jeff Carter: I said that the Kings needed Carter to step it up offensively, and he did so last night in a big way, scoring the overtime winner. As the opening video shows, he made a great individual effort on the game winner. He entered the zone, squeezed by Andy Greene, dodged a diving Mark Fayne to get a bad angle shot off, came around behind the net to pick up his own rebound, circled in front of the net and threw a shot past Martin Brodeur. Sure, it was only one goal. But damn, what a goal.
2. Jonathan Quick: Will people ever realize that Quick stopped playing weeks ago and was replaced by a cleverly painted brick wall? In all seriousness, he was as good as ever last night, stopping 32 of 33 shots, and only being beaten by a bouncing redirect by Ryan Carter. The Devils didn't test him quite as rigorously as the Kings did Brodeur, but Quick made the stops he needed to make.
3. Martin Brodeur: It's been tough luck for Marty, as he has put forth a great effort so far in the Final, only to be narrowly outdueled twice by Quick. He made 30 saves, a few of which were purely spectacular. Unfortunately, he can't score goals. The Devils need to find a way to beat Quick, or Brodeur's efforts will be for naught.
- Drew Doughty scored the King's first goal, logged a game-high 32:19 TOI, and registered this hit on Zach Parise.
- The Kings penalty kill was amazing. The Devil's came out of the gate strong to start the game and drew an early penalty. The Kings used their penalty kill to turn around the momentum early, and this momentum shift ultimately led to Doughty's goal.
- Marek Zidlicky showed some offensive talent, getting a quality chance close to the net, and firing the shot that Ryan Carter redirected to tie the game.
- Though the Kings used the penalty kill to build momentum, Matt Greene's early cross-checking penalty was pretty undisciplined.
- Andy Greene and Mark Fayne were completely undressed on Carter's overtime winner. It reminded me of my youth hockey days.
- Patrik Elias must still think it's the Eastern Conference Finals because many of his shot attempts appeared to be aiming for the goal at Madison Square Garden.
Other Thoughts and Questions
- Will we see the first Stanley Cup Final four-game sweep since the Detroit Red Wings swept the Washington Capitals in 1998?
- Will the Devil's turn to Henrik Tallinder for help on the blueline?
- Can I come up with a question about the Tim Thomas situation small enough to fit in a single
- bullet point?
- I must also say a few words about Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement. The consensus player of the last decade played his entire 20-season NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. He is perhaps the best European NHL player of all time. He leaves hockey having won a World Championship Gold Medal, an Olympic Gold Medal, 4 Stanley Cups, 7 Norris Trophies, and a Conn Smythe Trophy. He is a certain Hall of Famer, and is quite possibly the best player of his generation. His career will be remembered as one of the most illustrious in NHL history.
Game 3: Monday June 4th 8:00 ET at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.
TV: NBC Sports Network, CBC