The New Jersey Devils may look back at this game and pinpoint their first period as the place where they lost this one. This isn’t to say that the rest of the game was perfect; not by any stretch of the imagination. But the fact remains that they were outplayed and outskated in the first period by the LA Kings and didn’t manage to capitalize on their power play opportunity after LA’s goal. LA kept the momentum in this game and maintained their perfect playoff road record, stretching out to 9-0. They’ve been impressive this post season and they continue to impress.
LA took game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals 2-1, but needed overtime to get there. While they jumped all over the Devils in the first, they lost some of their intensity late in the second and both teams played a tight third period. New Jersey just looked slow in that first period, always playing from behind, unable to catch up to the swift feet of the Kings. Both teams appear to have done their homework on each other, with lots of cycling and playing off the weaknesses of the goaltenders. As a result, it’s a back and forth kind of game with very few shots on goal.
New Jersey had excellent chances in the second and in overtime to put this game away. Some of the shots were dumb luck, on both sides of the coin. A lucky bounce off Elias put the Devils on the board in the second and Fayne’s missed shot with a wide open net will probably be replayed in his nightmares tonight (the rest of us can just watch it on SportsCentre in a loop). Parise’s handing of the puck into the net in the third was probably more desperation and a brain lapse than a cheap play; either way, the call on the ice was a good one.
LA’s strengths are in their good cycle game, their physicality and their patience. New Jersey may be guilty of being too timid out of the gate and too desperate in overtime. Because they didn’t get the kind of start they needed to get early on, the Devils couldn’t stage a late comeback. After a firestorm on Quick, LA waited for New Jersey to make a mistake in the neutral zone, and they took advantage with Kopitar left wandering wide open with two late Devils defensemen centered on William. As a result, Brodeur was left high and dry to face a crafty Kopitar charging up the middle and he won LA the game.
There’s not much to be said about LA’s game other than the fact that they play a strong one. Some of their hits are on the edge, but they’re not exactly a dirty team. They play defense and block shots, but their game style is much more dynamic and is a quick two way game. And more than enough has been said about their out of this world goaltending. The LA Kings of the 2012 playoffs are fierce competition. They’re scary good. It will do New Jersey no good to be careful. If they want to go toe to toe, they’re going to have to live every shift right from the drop of the puck.
The Devils have to bring it. Because LA certainly will.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.