Goalie battle key to Kings-Devils Stanley Cup Finals
First of all, to the history books for some perspective on just how unlikely a Stanley Cup match-up this is. No matter who wins – the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils ($2.00) or eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings ($1.83) – we will see the lowest-seeded team ever become NHL champion. Their combined seed of 14 is another first for the finals.
The Kings haven’t been to the Stanley Cup since 1993 and have never won the title in their 45-year history.
The Devils’ last appearance in the Cup was 2003, when they beat another Californian team, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, to claim their third championship.
Now to the present and the battle that is expected to be key: the goaltenders.
Martin Brodeur, a career Devil, is a future Hall of Famer who many argue is the best goalie the game has ever seen. At 40, Brodeur has turned back the clock this season and was immense Saturday, pulling out one remarkable save after another as the Devils overcame great rivals New York to progress to the Cup in six games.
His opposite number, Jonathan Quick, is one of the best young goalies in the NHL. The 26-year-old’s form has been so impressive that he is among the leading candidates to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the player most valuable to his team during the playoffs.
The Kings have earned favouritism on the back of an unprecedented playoff run, where they have knocked over the first, second and third seeds. But keep in mind that while they have averaged nearly three goals a game this postseason, LA had the league’s 29th-ranked offence during the regular season.
New Jersey’s Russian winger Ilya Kovalchuk shapes as the most lethal attacking threat on the ice for either team, leading all scorers in the playoffs with 18 goals. His 83 regular-season goals ranked him fifth in the league.
The first game of the seven-match finals series starts at 10AM (AEST) on Thursday.2,228 views