Stanley Cup Preview: Game 2

"Gross." - Every Flyers/Rangers/Kings fan. "Cool!" - I guess everyone else. (Photo courtesy of Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Wednesday night’s Game 1 didn’t fall too far from the format of a typical series opener. The game play became rather ugly at times, due largely to both teams’ inexperience with one another and the acknowledgement that one small mistake could cost you the game. The scoring chances were minimal, save for, of course, the three combined goals and Mark Fayne’s swing-and-a-miss (or a swing-and-a-wide, however you want to look at it) at a wide open net late in the third period. But that shouldn’t downplay the play of both goaltenders, as Jon Quick and Martin Brodeur remained as impressive as they have been in the playoffs to date.

Anze Kopitar netted the winner in overtime on a goal which very few would have been able to stop. Lest we forget just who might be the dynamic offensive force in this series; no disrespect intended towards the men grabbing all the headlines in Parise, Kovalchuk, and Brown.

With the first effort in the rear view mirror, who grabs the reins and takes control tonight? Will the Kings continue their unprecedented undefeated streak away from home, or will the Devils recapture the suffocating, shutdown attack which brought them so far in the first place?

Game 2 takes place tonight at 8pm in New Jersey, here’s what we’re looking forward to:

  • Power play woes: The Kings are 6 for 75 (8%) on the power play this postseason, a mark that is somehow even worse than the Bruins’ from one year ago—who won the Stanley Cup with an abysmal 11.4%. They’ve struggled all year in this respect, it’s one of the reasons the team so aggressively pursued Rick Nash and eventually acquired Jeff Carter prior to the trade deadline. Simply put, the team needs to start cashing in to avoid repeated trips to overtime and potentially losses. The Kings had one power play Wednesday night and registered one shot on net. It’s no secret that Dustin Brown has been rather adept at drawing penalties recently, look for the captain to get into the scrum of things and give his team a much required kick in the pants.

 

  • Increased physical play: The two teams exchanged in an awkward process of feeling one another out before the game play turned into anything substantial, but don’t expect the pleasantries to extend into Game 2. The Kings employ a roster filled to the brim with men who can throw their weight around. They’re big, they’re strong, and when they are roaring with an insatiable tenacity, well…it’s hard to stop. The Devils on the other hand have several players that are a little smaller in stature. Steven Gionta might weigh 185 lbs when soaking wet, but is more than capable of banging with the big boys and providing the almost obligatory “scrap” factor to his team. The Devils are not ones to go down without a fight, and if the Kings start pushing, expect their opponents in red to push back even harder.

 

  • Fights: I’m all but guaranteeing one tonight. Dustin Penner said during media day that he could see animosity building between the two squads after “one game, one period, or even one shift.” This goes nearly hand-in-hand with the notion of an increased physical play on the ice, but I’m still including it here. It also aligns closely with one other sentiment I think will dominate the headlines tomorrow morning—“best game of the series.” Obviously, it’s early, but little remains to indicate both the Kings and Devils won’t come out this evening firing on all cylinders.

Prediction: Devils win 4-2.