PRIMEPUCKS PREDICTIONS- STANLEY CUP FINAL
LOS ANGELES KINGS(8) v.s. NEW JERSEY DEVILS(6)
Kings: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick
Devils: Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Marek Zidlicky, Martin Brodeur
Kings: Mike Richards, Justin Williams, Dustin Penner
Devils: Adam Henrique, Patrik Elias, Traviz Zajac
- In an eerily striking comparison, both teams have been rolling four lines in the playoffs, while getting significant contributions from blue-collar types such as Ryan Carter and Dwight King on their way to the Stanley Cup Finals. But let's not kid ourselves. Fantasy owners would be wise to stack their lineups with the big horses, for they are ones with the most big-game experience and superior skill level to penetrate the great goaltending of Jonathan Quick and Martin Brodeur. Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise have never advanced this deep into the post-season, but are among the elite scorers in the game and are coming off strong offensive showings against the Rangers. Kovalchuk, in particular, has been hot, collecting two goals and four assists in his last six games. After surpassing Claude Giroux for the playoff scoring lead with 18 points, the Russian sniper is definitely sniffing the Conn Smythe Trophy. He would be my number one fantasy pick here. By the way, rookie Adam Henrique clearly has the penchant for clutch goals during his first taste of the playoffs, so he might be worth the fantasy start. Speaking of big-game experience, Patrik Elias could come up big, even though he is struggling mightily with six points in 18 games. When it comes to the Kings, fantasy owners should just ride the hot hands of Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar. Brown has led the offense with 16 points in 14 games and has shown no signs of slowing down. In respect to the underrated Kopitar, he rarely gets mentioned amongst the league's elite, but his strong playoff performance might finally constitute as his coming out party. He has been held scoreless only once in his last eight games. Big-gamer Mike Richards has been relatively quiet, but did register three points in the five games against Phoenix. He might be heating up for the big dance. Sorry, I cannot recommend you starting Jeff Carter, even though he has the skill to thrill! Nor Dustin Penner, who had gone goalless in the last seven games prior to his game-winning tally in Game 5. I was so burned by him in the regular season, but he does qualify as a sleeper, considering he lines up with Richards.
- On the blueline, look no further than Drew Doughty and Marek Zidlicky as fantasy must starts in this series. Doughty looked real sharp offensively with one goal and three assists against Phoenix. As for Zidlicky, since coming over from Minnesota, he has added a dangerous dimension to the potent Devil's power-play unit. You can expect plenty of offense from him with the man-advantage. By the way, don't get caught up with the unexpected scoring prowess from Bryce Salvador, who has 11 points in 18 playoff games for the Devils, despite collecting only nine in 82 regular season games. Fantasy owners should steer clear as his offensive production could dry up in a hurry.
- When it comes to big-game experience, it's hard not to believe in future Hall-of-Famer Martin Brodeur, who along with his three Stanley Cup rings, is playing at an extremely high level at the age of forty. Let's see, his 2.04 GAA and .923 SP in the postseason is a huge improvement from his pedestrian regular season numbers, but still fall short of what the King's Jonathan Quick has accomplished in the post-season. The brilliant American netminder has compiled a 12-2 record with a 1.54 GAA and a .946 SP. Wow, Marty can't catch a break when comparing his stats to Quick's, but do not underestimate the intangibles he brings to this series as a three-time Stanley Cup champion, who, remarkably enough, has yet to win a Conn Smythe Trophy in his distinguished career. How is that for motivation!
PRIME PREDICTION: Steve- Devils in 6 Ray- Devils in 6
On paper, this one looks to be quite an exciting affair between two deep offensive teams with stellar netminders protecting the crease. One interesting stat to note: the Kings have been a penalty-killing mahine in the playoffs, clicking at an unbelievable 91.2% rate. This does not bode well for New Jersey, who might have a tough time beating Jonathan Quick five-on-five. Having said all that, Martin Brodeur looks determined to show the hockey world that he could still bring it on the NHL's biggest stage.. and with the hot Kovalchuk and Parise watching his back, who are we to bet against him? When it's all said and done, the New Jersey Devils will be hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup after six tight games.