Saturday, June 2, 2012
Kings: Road show ramps up for Game 2
By Dan Arritt
Stanley Cup Final
Game 2 (Kings lead the series, 1-0)
Kings vs. New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center, 5 p.m. PT
Five storylines to track:
1. Down this road before -- Nothing has been more well-documented during this postseason run than L.A.’s success on the road. Why stop now? The Kings bring an 11-game road winning streak into this game, winning all nine away from Staples Center in these playoffs, both NHL records. There’s no clear explanation for why the Kings have been so successful on the road, they’ve just continued to play very well over the last three months. You get the feeling they could win 10 straight on a frozen pond in Iceland right about now.
2. Two is better than one -- The Kings may not have played their absolute best in Game 2s during this playoff run, but they’ve had their best results. It began with Dustin Brown’s two short-handed goals in a 4-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks in the opening-round series, followed by a four-goal first-period outburst in a 5-2 win against the St. Louis Blues in Round 2. Jeff Carter backed that up with a hat trick in a 4-0 win against the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference final. Like in the past, look for Kings to set the tone in the first 10 minutes and counter any flurry by the Devils.
3. Stop-n-go -- Since the regular season ended April 7, the Kings have played just 15 games. Part of the reason is they’ve breezed through the first three rounds, another has been arena availability. The Kings had to spend an extra day in New Jersey because of a previously scheduled concert Friday night at Prudential Center. Both of L.A.’s losses in these playoffs have come after two-day breaks without travel in between, although both of those setbacks came at Staples Center.
4. More than just energy -- Coming into this series, much of the hype was focused on the production spilling from New Jersey’s fourth line. But it was L.A.’s energy line of Colin Fraser, Brad Richardson and Jordan Nolan that delivered the best overall effort of any line in Game 1. Fraser scored the first goal for the Kings, his first career playoff marker, Nolan set him with a nice pass from behind the net and contributed four hits and two takeaways, and Richardson was just a pest, screaming in on the forecheck and making life difficult for the Devils.
5. Star suppression -- The Kings did a fine job limiting Ilya Kovalchuk in Game 1. The team’s leading scorer in the regular season and playoffs had just one shot on goal in the 2-1 overtime loss and that didn’t arrive until early in the third period. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty received a lot of credit for getting in Kovalchuk’s way, but in reality he played only nine shifts against the speedy winger. The entire defense corps for the Kings deserves credit for keeping Kovalchuk under wraps, and you can bet he’ll be circled on their radar for Game 2.