Stanley Cup Preview: Game 3

The third installment of the Stanley Cup Finals makes its way into the Staples Center tonight. The Kings had little time to celebrate their 2-1 overtime victory Saturday night, Darryl Sutter rushed his team out of the locker room and onto the team plane in order to get back to Los Angeles as quickly as possible. Up 2-0 in the series, the Staples Center will be packed with raucous fans hungry to get a step closer to the first championship in franchise history.

For the Devils it's time to get desperate. Tonight is ultimately a must-win scenario for New Jersey, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to go down 0-3 and rally back to win the Cup. The trip out west could be to the Devils' benefit. The Devils haven't been on a plane since April 26th due to playoff series against the Flyers and Rangers. After two close and crushing overtime defeats a change of routine could help New Jersey re-focus. Not to mention: The Kings two losses this season have come inside the Staples Center.

The first two games were remarkably similar. Kings score, Devils rebuttal, Kings finish in overtime. Marty Brodeur and Jon Quick continue to impress. Powerplay woes. Physical but smart play. Game three will have similar storylines with different themes and will contain more scoring.

Devils Start Fast: When you drop two games in overtime you want to get back on the ice as soon as possible. Don't be suprised to see the Devils strike first tonight. They will set the pace with their forecheck and their forwards need to be able to finish. When playing against Quick, every opprotunity is vital. The Devils shot low against Quick the first two games, wouldn't be suprised to see shots placed around Quick's head and above his shoulders.

Brodeur vs. Quick: Both goalies continue to play exceptionally well. Brodeur and Quick have both received 2nd and 3rd star honors in the first two games. With the way these two have played it seems that the first star honor will continue to go to the player who is able to score the last goal of the game. Tonight's game will be determined not by the goalies but by the opposing forwards. Brodeur and Quick are going to make great saves, it's going to come down to players making even greater shots. 

Powerplay Woes: Ilya Kovalchuk blasted the Devils 0-4 powerplay effort after game two. Kovalchuk, practically non-existent in game one, had several great passes on the Devils' powerplay but was still to hesitant to shoot. Kovalchuk will be blasting shots tonight on the powerplay hoping to get one past a Kings penalty killing unit that has been sensational. The Kings powerplay unit went 0-2 last game and is an anemic 6/77 this postseason. The powerplay unit has been frightening but not detrimental. If the Kings can continue killing penalties their lack of production on powerplays won't matter.

Devils Player to Watch - Ilya Kovalchuk: The Devils want need Kovalchuk to score. Kovalchuk played well in the second game but was unable to make an impression. Kovalchuk will be shooting early and often, and the Devils would benefit most if he played a little selfish. 

Kings Player to Watch - Drew Doughty: Doughty is the rare defensemen that has major impacts on both sides of the ice. Doughty is the only player in the series with more than one point (2) and has been the leader of a defense that has only allowed one goal a game this series. Doughty has been matching up well with Kovalchuk and the Kings will need his best effort if they want to go up 3-0.

Prediction: Devils make this a series with a 4-3 victory tonight.