Los Angeles Hockey: New Jersey Devils

Rob Scuderi takes one for the team, and then some

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
11:45
PM PT
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- As veteran Los Angeles Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi lay sprawled on the ice midway through the first period Monday night, blood staining the surface, little did anyone realize the turning point of the Stanley Cup finals had been set in motion.

New Jersey Devils forward Steve Bernier was quickly ejected for the reckless boarding penalty and the Kings were awarded a five-minute power play, one that would continue no matter how many goals L.A. put in the net.

By the time those minutes ticked off the Staples Center scoreboard, Scuderi’s teammates had scored three times, more than enough to hold on for a 6-1 victory that clinched the series, 4-games-to-2, and handed L.A. its first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Scuderi had not just taken one for the team at that moment, he took one for the entire organization, maybe even the city of L.A.

Even better, Scuderi returned for the start of the second period, a fresh cut on the bridge of his nose and another on his upper lip. Not long after, Jeff Carter scored again for the Kings, stretching the lead to 4-0 and putting New Jersey out to pasture.

“It was a pretty hard hit,” Scuderi said. “At least we were able to capitalize on it and win the game.”

Capitalize might be the understatement of the team's 45-year existence.

Rapid Reaction: Game 6: Kings 6, Devils 1

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
7:54
PM PT

Stanley Cup finals

Game 6

Kings 6, New Jersey Devils 1

(Kings win the series, 4-2)

The good: Forty-five years of existence, six years of rebuilding and four minutes of pure elation merged together Monday night at Staples Center, combining to make hockey all the rage in L.A. once again.

After two missed opportunities, the Kings finally silenced the Devils for a fourth time in this series, clinching their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Better yet, they accomplished the ultimate goal in front of their loyal supporters. The turning point began just past the halfway point of the first period, when Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi was hit from behind by Steve Bernier as he played the puck near the end boards in his zone. Scuderi crumbled to the ice after he slammed face first into the boards and blood spilled from his mouth and nose. Bernier was given a five-minute major boarding penalty and a game misconduct. Since major penalties don’t end when a power-play goal is scored, the Kings took full advantage, scoring three consecutive goals with the man advantage.

Dustin Brown, mired in a slump during the finals, scored the first 53 seconds into the power play, deflecting a shot by defenseman Drew Doughty. Then it was Jeff Carter’s turn to get a piece of Brown’s shot from the slot and he tipped it past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur midway through the penalty. L.A. wasn’t satisfied, as rookie left wing Dwight King carried the puck down the left side and shoveled a short pass through the crease to Trevor Lewis, who flipped it past Brodeur for a 3-0 advantage with nine seconds still left on the major. This wasn’t a power play, this was a power trip. Even better, Scuderi returned at the start of the second period with a nasty gash on the bridge of his nose and his upper lip. Carter welcomed him back by taking a pass in the slot from Anze Kopitar and rifling it past Brodeur 1:30 into the second period for L.A.’s fourth goal on their 14th shot on net.

The bad: From the first game of these playoffs, the Kings had trouble closing out the second period. It happened again Monday night, as Adam Henrique beat three Kings to a loose rebound off a faceoff win and shoved it past the goal line with 1:15 left in the second period, cutting the deficit to 4-1. Dustin Penner then laid a check on New Jersey defenseman Bryce Salvador that looked like nothing more than a check along the boards, sending him to the penalty box with 17 seconds remaining in the period. The Kings killed that penalty, however, giving their fans a chance to breathe a sigh of relief.

The in-between: It was a rough night for a lot of folks. Not only did Scuderi leave a pool of blood on the ice, but Devils forward Stephen Gionta was struck in the face by a teammate’s slap shot late in the second period and linesman Pierre Racicot had to leave the game after he was knocked down on a rush by Brown during the second period, as well, slamming his head sharply on the ice.

Kings: Another opportunity to clinch arrives with Game 6

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
8:34
AM PT
Stanley Cup finals

Game 6 (Kings lead series, 3-2)

Kings vs. New Jersey Devils at Staples Center, 5 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Clock is ticking – So close has been Lord Stanley’s Cup the past two games, the Kings could almost see it, nearly touch it and practically feel the tradition reverberating from its sterling silver. But the Devils didn’t roll over in Game 4, and then pushed back a little more in Game 5, leaving L.A. still one win from raising its first Cup. Despite the luxury of having two more chances to win one more game, this has to be considered a Game 7 for the Kings. They want no part of a seventh game Wednesday in Newark, no matter how well they’ve played on the road. If they hope to stem this rising New Jersey tide, the Kings need to play their best game of the series.

2. Added demands – Only two members of the current Devils team were on the organization’s 2003 team, the last to win the Stanley Cup: goalie Martin Brodeur and forward Patrik Elias. But the entire squad seems to have developed a been there, done that attitude. New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer poked fun at the Kings after practice Sunday, saying the Devils had noticed a stream of limousines parked outside Staples Center prior to Game 4, just waiting to whisk the Kings to an after-party once they completed the sweep. Earlier in the day, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty admitted there were some outside distractions prior to Game 4. “We were nervous, worried about other things," he said. "All of us in the room were kind of frustrated that we were thinking about things ahead of time.” Doughty said coach Darryl Sutter vowed to make sure that wouldn’t happen again. No word if he confiscated their cellphones.

3. Mission in action – If the Kings hope to wrap up the Cup, they must squeeze more production from their top six forwards. The only member of that group who has played better as the series has rolled along is right wing Justin Williams. He scored goals in two of the past three games and rang the post twice as well. Dustin Brown was so ineffective down the stretch of Game 5 that he sat out the last five minutes, and their leading scorer in the playoffs, Anze Kopitar, hasn’t recorded a shot on goal the past two games. The only thing the second line of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner has generated the past two games is more length to their beards.

4. Where’s Simon? – After missing nearly six months with a concussion, Simon Gagne has appeared in three straight games for the Kings. Sutter was hoping he would generate some offense in place of Brad Richardson, but so far he has recorded zero points. Even more telling for those who didn’t like the move in the first place, the Kings are 1-2 with Gagne in the lineup. He has the offensive skill of a top-six forward but is still limited to fourth-line minutes, Sutter said. Gagne took a few shifts with Kopitar and Williams late in Saturday night’s loss, but since stamina is still an issue, Sutter can only go with that look intermittently, leaving him to roll with three lines. It will be interesting to see how Sutter uses Gagne moving forward, if he uses him at all.

5. Quick response – The last time Jonathan Quick gave up a soft goal in the playoffs — a shot from the red line against the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals — he came back with a shutout in Game 2. L.A. fans are hoping he responds with a similar effort after his mishap with the puck midway through the first period of Game 5 allowed the Devils to take a 1-0 lead in a game they eventually won 2-1. Quick has been phenomenal in these playoffs and will likely wrap up the Conn Smythe Trophy if he can put the Kings on his shoulders once more.

Kings again leave the Cup on the table

June, 10, 2012
6/10/12
8:28
AM PT


NEWARK, N.J. -- Before the Los Angeles Kings took the ice for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals, Dustin Brown smiled and said that since the Kings had to fly back home after the game anyway, they might as well bring the Cup with them on the long flight.

Although the trophy was once again in the building, for the second straight game the Kings left the ice empty-handed, destined to drink out of regular cups instead of a silver chalice on their flight to L.A. on Saturday night.


Jim O'Connor/US Presswire
Since taking a 3-0 series lead against the New Jersey Devils and being in position to win the Cup, the Kings have failed to take the lead in each of the past two games.


"We want the Cup!" has become a rallying cry around Los Angeles over the past couple of weeks, but maybe the Kings need to forget about the trophy they are playing for. Ever since the Stanley Cup has arrived at the arena they are playing in, they have seemingly crumbled in its presence. Since taking a 3-0 series lead against the New Jersey Devils and being in position to win the Cup, the Kings have failed to take the lead in each of the past two games. Suddenly this team’s mystique is beginning to fade as quickly as its lead in this series.

For the first time in more than two months, the Kings returned to a visiting locker room and took off their white uniforms in defeat. It was a feeling so foreign to most players, they didn’t quite know how to react.

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick got defensive when a reporter said this was the first time this postseason that the Kings had been tested or faced adversity.

“I thought we were tested pretty hard in the first, second and third rounds,” he said. “Just because we were able to come out on top it doesn’t mean we weren’t tested. If you don’t think we were tested in those series, you should be covering a different sport.”

Well, it was the first time the Kings had dropped a road playoff game in nearly 14 months. The Kings have won an NHL playoff-record 10 straight road games this year, and 12 straight dating back to their first-round series against San Jose last year. They had always responded to a loss with a win, until now.

So now the question is how the Kings will respond to their first back-to-back losing streak of these playoffs, in the first Game 6 they will have to play after closing out each of their previous three series in four or five games.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Devils 2, Kings 1

June, 9, 2012
6/09/12
8:01
PM PT

Stanley Cup finals

Game 5

New Jersey Devils 2, Los Angeles Kings 1

(Kings lead the series, 3-2)

The good: So, the Kings have lost two straight for the first time in this postseason, and watched their 10-game road winning streak in these playoffs skid to a halt inside Prudential Center. But look at the bright side, they still lead the series heading back to L.A. Right from the opening drop, Kings right wing Justin Williams had an extra jump to his step and a little more zing on his shot. After drilling his second post in as many games 2:40 into the first period, he didn't let his second prime scoring chance go to waste. The play began with a run-of-the-mill clearing pass by defenseman Matt Greene. Williams collected the puck at his own blue line with Anze Kopitar in front of him. Williams smartly elected to keep the rubber, darting toward the high slot and forcing defenseman Mark Fayne to back off. Kings left wing Dustin Brown cut toward the goal, drawing Zach Parise with him. As Williams reached the high slot, he let go of another wrister that beat goalie Martin Brodeur cleanly, tying the score, 1-1, about 3 1/2 minutes into the second period.

The bad: Puck-handling has long been a glaring weakness in goalkeeper Jonathan Quick’s game and it reared its ugly head in the first period. After the Kings owned the first 11 minutes, defenseman Willie Mitchell went to the penalty box for interference in his offensive zone. The Devils nearly scored in the first minute of the power play when Travis Zajac’s shot from the slot trickled through Quick’s pads, but the puck rolled away from the goal line and Drew Doughty was able to step in and clear it from the crease. About a minute later, Quick came out of the crease to handle the puck with plenty of room to send it forward, but he elected to spin and bounce it off the end boards. He didn’t put enough on the attempt and the puck hit the boards and got hung up on the back of the net. Parise swooped in, beat Doughty to the puck and scored on a wraparound before Quick could get back into position. It was Parise’s first goal of the series, as well as New Jersey’s first power-play goal. Not a good omen considering the team that scored first won the previous four games.

About 5 minutes after the Kings tied the score, New Jersey defenseman Bryce Salvador let go of a slap shot from just inside his blue line. L.A. defenseman Slava Voynov was battling with David Clarkson in front of the net and both attempted to get out of the way of the shot. The puck got a piece of Voynov, however, and was redirected to the left of Quick, giving the lead back to the Devils, 2-1. It was the second time in the series the puck has caromed off the rookie defenseman and into his own net. The score held up, sending the series back to L.A. for Game 6 on Monday night at Staples Center.

The in between: At least the Kings and Devils won’t have to compete with the NBA Finals or the Subway Series for viewership come Monday. The NHL will have the afternoon/evening time slot all to its self.

Kings looking to bounce back in Game 5 vs. Devils

June, 9, 2012
6/09/12
11:45
AM PT

Stanley Cup finals

Game 5 (Kings lead the series, 3-1)

Kings vs. New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center, 5 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Not this time -- The Kings finally came up on the wrong side of a nail-biter this postseason. Heading into Game 4 of this series Wednesday night at Staples Center, they were 6-0 in playoff games decided by one goal, including all four that ventured into overtime. Game 4 was still tied with 4 minutes remaining in the third period, but Adam Henrique scored on a rush and New Jersey sealed the 3-1 victory with an empty-netter in the final seconds. Is that a sign the magic has finally worn off for the Kings? Game 5 should provide an immediate answer to that question.

2. Kings of the road -- L.A. is 10-0 on the road this postseason, a streak that seems a lot more important to the media than the coaches and players. “The only time I think about it is when you bring it up,” coach Darryl Sutter repeated Saturday morning following the team’s morning skate. Except for the second round, when the Kings swept the St. Louis Blues, they’ve followed the same pattern. Win the first two games on the road, split the next two at home and then clinch the series back on the road in Game 5. The Kings may not be mindful of their road record, but the Devils surely are.

3. Put it on ice -- Sutter reminded the gathering of reporters that Saturday was Farmer’s Day in his home province of Alberta. “A big picnic with coolers,” he said. Winning a fourth game against the Devils surely won’t be a picnic. The victory in Game 4 provided New Jersey an ounce of momentum and demonstrated that Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is human after all. For the first time in the series, the Devils actually put a shot past Quick that wasn’t redirected at some point en route to the net. Quick is still the most consistent player for either team, limiting the Devils to two goals or less in all four games.

4. Brown needs to rebound -- Kings captain Dustin Brown doesn’t need anyone to remind him that he hasn’t had much of an impact in the finals. He had at least five points in each of the first three rounds, but has just one assist through the first four games of this series. Brown said the Devils have done a solid job taking away his time and space, a strategy made somewhat easier because he’s playing on his off-wing. “I’ve been pretty quiet in the finals so far and it’s up to our big players to step up at big times,” he said after practice Friday.

5. Devils are due -- After meandering for five straight games without a power-play goal, the Kings broke through with three in the last two games. Now it’s the Devils who are stuck in the mud with the man advantage. They netted 12 power-play goals in their first 18 playoff games but have been shut out thus far in this series. They haven’t gone five straight games without scoring on the power play since November. If the Kings can win the battle of special teams again in Game 5, they have a good chance of wrapping up their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history.

Kings discuss Game 5 following morning skate

June, 9, 2012
6/09/12
9:34
AM PT
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Los Angeles Kings had a good turnout for their optional morning skate Saturday at Prudential Center prior to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals against the New Jersey Devils. Here's what Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Simon Gagne and Rob Scuderi had to say.

Secret to good power play? There's no secret

June, 8, 2012
6/08/12
3:08
PM PT


NEWARK, N.J. -- Except for some better results, not much has changed on the power play the last two games.

The Los Angeles Kings combined for three goals on six man-advantage opportunities in Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, as many as they scored in the previous 14 playoff games.

The Kings split the last two meetings with the New Jersey Devils at Staples Center, leaving them with a 3-games-to-1 series edge heading into Game 5 on Saturday night at Prudential Center. Another win and L.A. will clinch its first Stanley Cup title in franchise history.

Justin Williams, who scored a power-play goal late in Game 3, said a variety of factors have accounted for the unit’s recent surge in production.

“There’s no secret to a good power play,” he said. “Shots, screens, tips, rebounds. It’s all of those things. An extra effort on a goal, getting in front of the goalie, just out-battling the four guys with one of your five out there.”

The Kings didn’t have a power play in Game 3 until the third period, when they were protecting a 2-0 lead. That gave the coaching staff reason to tinker with their personnel, keeping the first and second lines together with two defensemen, rather than their normal set of a fourth forward stationed at the blue line alongside a single defenseman.

L.A. scored on both man-advantage situations to finish off the 4-0 victory.

Dustin Brown wasn’t sure if the change in personnel helped spur the power play in Game 3, but “you’re more comfortable playing with your line,” he said.


Kings coach Darryl Sutter said the decision to go with line combinations in Game 3, rather than his usual power-play combinations, was purely strategy and not a result of the team’s lack of production with the man advantage.

“It’s more time and score and those sorts of things,” he said.

(Read full post)

Kings practice day before Game 5 in New Jersey

June, 8, 2012
6/08/12
12:15
PM PT
Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter was the first one on the ice Friday afternoon at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The Kings will meet the New Jersey Devils in Game 5 on Saturday night, with a chance to close out the series and win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Here's a look at the coach and players as they report to work.

Kings on the precipice of Stanley Cup title

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
9:54
AM PT

Stanley Cup Final

Game 4 (Kings lead series, 3-0)

Kings vs. New Jersey Devils at Staples Center, 5 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Let it rain – The day that many thought would never arrive in L.A. is finally here. The Kings can clinch their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history with a victory in Game 4, erasing a 45-year championship drought and making a bunch of die-hard fans very happy. As difficult as it has been for the Kings to win a playoff series over the years, or even qualify for the postseason, this run has been remarkably seamless. They’ve won 15 of 17 games and haven’t been pushed beyond a Game 5 in the first three rounds. With a win in Game 4, the Kings would tie the 1988 Edmonton Oilers for the quickest route to a Cup title since the playoffs were expanded to a best-of-seven format for all four rounds in 1987.

2. Just a number – As potentially the first eighth-seeded team to win a Stanley Cup title since the league went to a conference-based format in 1994, the Kings continue to receive plenty of attention for their spot in the pecking order. In reality, they were the third-seeded team in the West when they qualified for the playoffs with two regular-season games remaining, then took their only breather in the last 3 months and dropped the last two to tumble to No. 8. Not owning home-ice advantage in the playoffs has been a blessing in disguise, as the Kings have won the first two games on the road in all four rounds.

3. First blood, Part IV – When the Kings score first in this postseason, they’re 10-1. They’ve notched the first goal in every game of this series, despite getting outplayed at the beginning of Games 1 and 2, and have yet to trail in a game. If the Kings can pull off another wire-to-wire victory against the Devils, they’d become the first team since 1960 to win the Cup without ever trailing during the finals. New Jersey has never been swept in franchise history either, but a couple first-period goals by L.A. might just encourage New Jersey to start packing for the long flight home.

4. Offensively-challenged – Scoring first is much easier when the opponent doesn't score. The Devils have lit the lamp just twice in the first three games of this series and those were hockey’s version of a broken bat single. They have no offensive synchronization, whether on the power play or at even strength, and haven’t shown any creativity with the puck. Of course, much of this is due to the plug the Kings have in their net. If goalkeeper Jonathan Quick can pitch a second consecutive shutout in Game 4, the Kings would become just the second team in NHL history to hold a team to two goals or less in the Cup finals.

5. Head game – Quick has clearly disrupted the Devils’ offensive rhythm, if not completely gotten into their heads. When the Devils get a rare look at the net, they’re trying to be perfect with their aim. They took 21 shots that were off target in Game 4, compared to 22 on goal. The New Jersey defensemen were especially wayward with their shot attempts last game, as 12 of 18 were off their mark and several others were blocked. And when the Devils have put their shots on target, Quick has stopped the puck 97.2 percent of the time. They must be wondering what more they can do to score a goal.

With chance to sweep Cup finals, Kings remain businesslike

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
4:30
PM PT
KingsJayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireDespite having a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals, the Kings aren't looking ahead at all.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Don’t put the champagne on ice just yet.

That was the mindset a day after the Los Angeles Kings snowplowed the New Jersey Devils, 4-0, in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.

The victory Monday night at Staples Center put the Kings up 3-0 in the series, leaving them one win from raising their first Cup in franchise history. In the minds of the players, however, they’re also four straight losses from having it snatched away.

“Can't get too excited, look too far ahead,” said third-line center Jarret Stoll. “You have to stay in the moment and play the game.”

It’s an approach that has worked well throughout this 15-2 playoff run:

Win Game 1, then forget about Game 1.

Win Game 2, then forget about Game 2.

Win Game 3, then forget about Game 3.

If the Kings have one flaw outside their power play this postseason -- and even that came through with two goals Monday night -- it’s completing the sweep. They’ve lost two of three Game 4s in the playoffs, giving the opposition a ray of hope.

Nobody is more aware of this inconsistency than the players.

“We haven't been very good in these situations,” said second-line center Mike Richards. “It's something we have to improve on, obviously. We still know that we can play better. ... We're going to have to be, because [the Devils] are going to bring it all.”

When the Devils skate out for Game 4 on Wednesday evening at Staples Center, they'll be on a road 25 teams have traveled before, but only one has completed. Since the league went to a best-of-seven format for the finals in 1939, only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs managed to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win the Cup.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Game 3: Kings 4, Devils 0

June, 4, 2012
6/04/12
7:48
PM PT
Stanley Cup Final

Game 3 (Kings lead the series, 3-0)

Los Angeles Kings 4, New Jersey Devils 0

The good: Barring a historic comeback in this series, the Kings are well on their way to their first Stanley Cup title. They reached this point with perhaps their best all-around performance of the playoffs, getting a superb effort from their penalty-kill unit, another strong game from goalie Jonathan Quick and a pair of goals in the second and third periods.

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez put the Kings on the board first for the third time in this series, pouncing on Dwight King’s leftovers to notch his first career playoff goal. King shot the puck at New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur from the right circle, hitting him in the chest. King was right there for the rebound, shooting it off Brodeur’s right pad and getting in a couple more whacks before Martinez raced into the play and shoved it across the goal line. Brodeur thought the play should have been called dead, but he had no clue where to find the puck during the scramble. Martinez is the 17th member of the Kings to score a goal in this postseason.

While the first goal was a result of persistence and hard work, the second was pure skill. Justin Williams collected a stretch pass that banked off the boards and left it for a trailing Dustin Brown. He looked to his left and spotted Anze Kopitar with a step on the defense and skipped a pass in his direction. Kopitar took a swipe at the airborne puck and put it high in the net for a 2-0 lead with 4:53 left in the second period. It was the first two-goal lead for the Kings since Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

After six straight power plays by the Devils, the Kings finally got one of their own and showed New Jersey how it’s done. Willie Mitchell took a page out of Quick’s book and snagged a clearing pass with his glove at the blue line, set it down and the Kings resumed their attack. Mike Richards took the puck down low and then passed it out to his good buddy and roommate Jeff Carter just to the right of Brodeur. He put the rubber up high in the net for a 3-0 lead 4:15 into the third.

Just more than a minute later, the Kings went back on the power play. This time it was Williams jumping on his own rebound and putting it past Brodeur for their fourth goal in 20 shots.

The penalty kill was again outstanding for the Kings. They snuffed out all six man-advantage situations for New Jersey, including a five-on-three situation that lasted 60 seconds late in the first period. Kings defenseman Matt Greene came through with two blocks on Ilya Kovalchuk and Quick made pinball-lever save with his right pad to rob Zach Parise, who had received a pass on the far post.

The bad: Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

The in between: Sidelined since Dec. 26 because of a concussion, Kings left wing Simon Gagne made his first appearance of the postseason, taking the fourth-line spot of Brad Richardson. He finished with 11 shifts, 6:39 of ice time and three shots on goal. The Kings were hoping Gagne would breathe some life into the power play, but the Kings spent most of the first two periods killing penalties. Still, the Kings played their best game of the series and possibly the playoffs with Gagne in the lineup, so look for coach Darryl Sutter to stick with that lineup in Game 4 on Wednesday.

Kings: Bounces going L.A.'s way heading into Game 3

June, 4, 2012
6/04/12
9:17
AM PT
Stanley Cup final

Game 3 (Kings lead series 2-0)

Kings vs. New Jersey Devils at Staples Center, 5 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Just win, baby: Safe to say, L.A. is fortunate to be leading this series. The Devils have been hard on the Kings, even beating them at their own game in some areas. If not for Mark Fayne missing a wide-open side of the net late in Game 1, or Ilya Kovalchuk ringing his wrister off the wrong side of the crossbar with seven seconds remaining in Game 2, the momentum could easily be pointing east rather than west. But hey, no team got more unlucky bounces than the Kings during the first three quarters of the regular season. Now the series heads to L.A., where the Kings have actually played an inferior brand of hockey for most of the last eight months. They need to make the right adjustments, or the Devils could easily turn this into the dogfight most everyone anticipated.

2. Full speed ahead: After strolling through the first 16 games at a snail’s pace, the postseason finally shifts into overdrive over the next three days. The Kings headed straight to the airport following Game 2 on Saturday night, getting home around 4:30 a.m. They’ll take the ice for Game 3 warm-ups approximately 36 hours later. Following another day off Tuesday, they’ll come right back for Game 4 at Staples Center on Wednesday evening. Thanks to their 2-0 series lead, the Kings had the luxury of skipping practice Sunday afternoon. Not the Devils. They were out at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, trying to figure ways to get the puck past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. In an interesting scheduling twist, New Jersey is outside the Eastern time zone for the first time since mid-January.

3. Rough around the edges: A few of L.A.’s big-bodied forwards were stymied by the Devils in Game 2. Dustin Brown did not record a shot on goal, Dustin Penner didn’t get one until overtime and Anze Kopitar’s only shot on net came from 171 feet away midway through the third period. New Jersey’s relentless forecheck seemed to be a big contributor to the trio’s struggles. Since that strategy seemed to work so well in Game 2, look for the Devils to turn up the heat in Game 3. It’s up to the Kings to find ways to get the puck out of their end more efficiently. They did a better job in Game 1 by quickly passing the puck into the middle of the ice, but that also left them vulnerable to costly turnovers in a high-percentage scoring area.

4. Sneaky Devils: While the four goals by the Kings in this series have been works of art, New Jersey’s have been as dirty as a junkyard dog. Anton Volchenkov’s shot from the point in Game 1 was saved by the stick of Quick, but then took an unfortunate bounce off the chest of Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and caromed into the net. Marek Zidlicky took another point shot through traffic in Game 2 and that one was tipped in by New Jersey forward Ryan Carter, who was parked in the high slot. Not a bad idea by the Devils, considering Quick is stopping everything he sees. If the Devils are planning to set up camp in front of the net again, the Kings need to be there too. They did a better job of that in Game 2, blocking 19 shots, one of their highest totals of this postseason. The usual suspects, defensemen Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi, led the way with four each.

5. Paging Mr. Smythe: What more can be said about Quick? While in New Jersey, he managed to lower his minuscule goals-against average in the playoffs from 1.54 to 1.44., and his save percentage from to .946 to .947. He’s the reason the Kings have stolen five games in the postseason while scoring two goals or less, including the first two of this series. He’s been exceptionally good in Game 3s in this playoff run, allowing three goals in the three victories at Staples Center and stopping 86 of 89 shots (.966).

Rapid Reaction: Game 2: Kings 2, Devils 1 (OT)

June, 2, 2012
6/02/12
8:46
PM PT
Stanley Cup Final

Game 2 (series)

Kings 2, New Jersey Devils 1 (OT)

The good: The Kings are heading back to Los Angeles with another two-games-to-none lead thanks to three incredible individual efforts. Jeff Carter scored the second straight overtime winner for the Kings, racing down the right side and taking a shot from the right circle that New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur shoveled aside. Carter didn’t give up, collecting the puck to the left of the opposite post, circling around at the top of the left circle and letting go of his patented wrist shot from the slot, beating Brodeur down low on his stick side. That set off another wild celebration as the Kings won their 10thconsecutive road game of these playoffs, and their fourth in overtime.

Long before that play, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty gave the Kings a 1-0 lead on a play that will long be shown on highlight reels and training videos for seasons to come. Doughty began the play by beating David Clarkson to a puck that was skidding into the Kings’ defensive zone. He collected the rubber, made a wide U-turn and then skated up the middle, weaving through Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier before putting a nasty toe-drag move on Ryan Carter. He then let go of a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Brodeur over his right shoulder 7:49 into the game. Almost immediately, comparisons to NHL greats Bobby Orr, Scott Niedermayer and Paul Coffey filled the Twitter-verse. The play also put Doughty back in the running for the Conn Smythe Trophy, but it will be tough at this point to take it away from Jonathan Quick, who turned in another stellar postseason performance with 32 saves.

The bad: Realizing the best way to beat Quick was to get the puck to change directions, the Devils were looking for a high tip from the opening faceoff. They finally got one to skip past the goal line early in the third period after New Jersey defenseman Marek Zidlicky took the shot from the right point. Ryan Carter, a former Anaheim Duck, got his blade on it, bouncing it off the ice and past Quick who was screened by teammate Colin Fraser and a New Jersey player. It was the fifth goal of the postseason for Carter, who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He was called up by the Ducks heading into the 2007 postseason and appeared in four games, just enough to get his name on the Stanley Cup. The goal was the first the Kings allowed in the third period since Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against St. Louis.

The in between: For the first time since 1951, the first two games of the Stanley Cup final went to overtime. … Dustin Penner and Dustin Brown did not have a shot on goal for the first three periods, but Penner collected one in overtime, nearly scoring in the opening two minutes. Anze Kopitar also managed just one shot on goal, but with the depth the Kings have, they can get away with that.

Kings: Road show ramps up for Game 2

June, 2, 2012
6/02/12
10:02
AM PT

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.

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