New York Hockey: Drew Doughty

W2W4: Game 6, Devils vs. Kings

June, 11, 2012

At a glance: Two times the Kings have had the chance to finish off the Devils and both times they have failed. After falling behind in a 3-0 hole, the Devils have recorded two straight wins to send the series back to Los Angeles and shift the pressure to the Kings for Game 6 on Monday night.

Can the Devils postpone the party once again?

Plenty of people wrote New Jersey off early in the series, but the Devils still feel they have unfinished business.

Said captain Zach Parise: “I don’t see any reason we should be over-confident or satisfied. We’re still down 3-2.”

Losing focus: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty openly admitted his team was guilty of looking ahead the last time they had a chance to clinch the Cup at home. He said the influx of family and friends was a distraction as they were looking to sweep in Game 4 at Staples Center. Doughty vowed that the Kings won’t make a similar mistake this time, calling it “a lesson learned.”

Brodeur at best: 40-year-old Martin Brodeur isn’t showing any signs of aging. The Devils veteran goaltender has seemed to find another gear in the playoffs -- and in the Cup final, especially. In a series where L.A.’s resident Vezina finalist Jonathan Quick has garnered most of the attention, Brodeur is stealing back the spotlight with some of his finest saves of the season. The three-time Cup winner has surrendered only two goals in the last two games.

More snarl to series: In a series that has been physical but otherwise pretty civil, things got a little nastier in Game 5. A post-whistle scrum even led one Kings player to pull Brodeur’s jersey over his head as tempers flared in the third period.

“When you play a team five times in a week-and-a-half, it’s going to get a little more heated,” Kings forward Mike Richards said Sunday.

Cooler heads: With the series tight at 3-2, discipline will be paramount for the Devils. New Jersey’s penalty-killing unit lost a bit of swagger early in the playoffs and almost paid dearly for it. The Devils have given up 19 goals in 73 times shorthanded (74%), compared with a staggering 89.6% success rate that led the league during the regular season.

If it ain’t broke: There will be no lineup changes for the Devils on Monday night, according to coach Pete DeBoer.

Gut-check time: Statistics can change on a dime this time of year -- Game 5 snapped both the Kings' 10-0 road record and the Devils' 0-for-15 power-play skid -- but the Devils want to keep an important one intact: They are 4-0 when facing elimination games this postseason.

Devils shift pressure to Kings

June, 10, 2012

Dave Sandford/NHLI/Getty Images
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – According to coach Pete DeBoer, the New Jersey Devils couldn’t help but feel they were being treated like a foregone conclusion the last time they were in Los Angeles.

Down in a 3-0 hole on the road against a Los Angeles Kings team that had the chance to clinch in front of its home crowd, the city had the buzz of an impending coronation.

And the Devils didn’t like it.

“When your bus has to pull by the 10 limos parked on the road for the after party, that's definitely a motivation,” DeBoer said Sunday from the Kings' practice facility.

The series has taken a dramatic shift since, however.

Ripping off two straight wins to pull within a game of the Kings, the Devils hope they have foisted the pressure and scrutiny on their opponents.

“I don't think there's any doubt about that,” DeBoer said. “People expected this to be over two games ago. So the fact that we're in the spot we're in, I don't think there's any hiding from that pressure.”

A few of the Kings willingly admitted that they got consumed with the allure of the ultimate prize -- the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title -- and lost focus on what it would take to achieve it.

“I think a lot of us before Game 4 were distracted with family members and friends, the Cup coming in the building. A lot of things we have to put aside,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “Family always comes first for everyone, but at this point of the year, the team has to come first.”

A sore spot after squandering two chances to nail it down?

“Yeah,” Doughty said. “I think it was a lesson learned.”

With doubt and pressure seeping into the Kings' room, the Devils seem to have harnessed momentum heading into Game 6. Puck luck has turned in New Jersey’s favor while the Kings’ have looked frustrated at times, particularly in the post-whistle action that might suggest their composure is being tested.

If that’s a subtle weakness the Kings have exposed, the Devils hope to exploit it.

“We were in their shoes. We know how it feels,” Ilya Kovalchuk said. “But, like I said, you’ve got to control your emotions. I think the team that is going to do it better is going to win.”

Composure and resiliency has been a strength all year long for the Devils, who are 4-0 when facing elimination this postseason.

DeBoer doesn’t think that’s a fluke.

“I think it's a testament to character, to gut check, to leadership in the room, all those things,” he said. “That's when the rubber hits the road, so to speak, for your season and for your team.”

“We have had an ability to rise to the occasion.”

W2W4: Kings vs. Rangers

February, 17, 2011
The Los Angeles Kings come to the Garden Thursday night to battle the Rangers in a contest that pits two teams battling to reach the playoffs. Here are three factors to watch for when the puck drops.

Any Goal Is A Good Goal

Both the Rangers and Kings are excellent in their own end, ranking sixth and third respectively in goals against average. That ought to increase the value of any goal either sign can put on the board tonight. In addition to the stacked blue lines, which will feature Marc Staal and Drew Doughty, expect a solid battle in the nets between Henrik Lundqvist and talented youngster Jonathan Bernier.

Grind ‘Em Down

The gritty quality of the Rangers’ game could pay particular dividends against the Kings Thursday. L.A. is in the midst of a 10-game road trip that began Feb. 1. Adding to their potential weariness, the Columbus Blue Jackets took the Kings to a shootout Wednesday night. The Rangers should be well rested, having been off since Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh and should have the energy advantage. The Blueshirts shouldn’t expect the Kings, desperate for points in the playoff race, to simply roll over though. L.A. hasn’t lost in regulation since Jan. 20.

Special Teams Still Special?

Both the Rangers power play and penalty kill carried them in their 5-3 win over the Penguins. Now, can they keep that momentum going? The consistency on the PK has never really been in question this season, but the PP has been a work in progress. The three man-advantage goals Sunday marked the season high for the unit. It will be interesting to see if the Blueshirts can keep it up or if bad habits -- over-handling the puck, not screening the goalie -- resurface.