Saturday, June 2, 2012
W2W4: Devils vs. Kings
By Katie Strang
At a glance: Too early to say a must-win for the Devils? Not really. New Jersey aims to tie the series against the Kings with a win at home before jumping on a cross-country flight to LA for Games 3 and 4. Meanwhile, the Kings try to keep their remarkable road record pristine with their tenth straight victory away from home. Game 2 from Prudential Center, Saturday at 8 p.m.
Road warriors: With a 2-1 OT win in Game 1, the Kings improved to a stunning 9-0 record on the road this playoffs. Of the two losses the Kings have surrendered in 15 total games, both came at home at Staples Center.
Been here before: The Devils aren’t fretting about being down a game to the Kings. New Jersey dropped the opener in both the semifinals against the Flyers and the conference finals against the Rangers and still managed to advance.
Stars not shining: After recording five points apiece against their hated division rivals, captain Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk were held off the score sheet on Wednesday. Parise managed three shots on goal against Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, Kovalchuk only one.
Lead the way: Kings captain Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar are tied for the team lead with 16 playoff points apiece and a plus-14 rating. Brown has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in the last 10 games, while Kopitar has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in the last nine, including the overtme winner in Game 1 vs. Martin Brodeur.
Precarious position: The Devils will be desperate to avoid the dreaded two-game hole -- one that only five teams have vanquished in the Stanley Cup Finals (although Boston managed such a rally against Vancouver just last year). New Jersey has advanced only once in franchise history – the conference semifinals against the Bruins in 1994 – after falling behind by 2-0.
Tallinder to appear in series?: Coach Pete DeBoer said there will be lineup changes for Game 2, but veteran defenseman Henrik Tallinder appears close to return. The 33-year-old Swede has not played since January because of a blood clot in his lower left leg but is available. The Devils confirmed he will travel to Los Angeles with the team for Games 3 an 4.
Killing time: The Devils top-ranked penalty-killing unit has lived up to its billing lately. New Jersey has not surrendered a power-play goal in four straight games, boasting a 7-for-7 success rate during that span.