Three things you need to know about the opening game of the Stanley Cup final between the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Wednesday.
Brodeur could be a huge factor in this series
A big part of the success for the Kings has been what they call their Hound the Puck forecheck system. It has given their opponents fits. Devils 40-year-old goalie Martin Brodeur is the best at playing the puck amongst his peers. He said he learned the skill as a kid from studying Kings assistant general manager Ron Hextall in his playing days with the Philadelphia Flyers.
If the Kings can't keep the puck away from Brodeur on their dump-ins, they could face an obstacle that they did not in the first three rounds, although Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith tried to his best later in the series to get involved in moving the puck. He just wasn't as deft in this area as Brodeur usually exhibits.
Brodeur, by the way, remarked on Tuesday that he is leaning towards playing next season, and the outcome of the final will have little bearing on his decision. He did, however, add that if there were to be lengthy lockout in the fall he likely would not stick around to play another season.
Kings have been road warriors
While the Devils boast the best record at home in the 2012 playoffs, the Kings have set a playoff record with eight consecutive away victories to open the postseason. In each of the previous three rounds the Kings have snatched a 3-0 lead and then cruised to win the series. Can they continue this trend against Devils?
One matter the Kings will deal with on Wednesday evening is an eight-day layoff, compared to a four-day break for the Devils. But the Kings went six days between the first and second round, and seven days between the second round and the West final, and the time off certainly did not derail their success.
The first game has been important in this postseason. Of the previous 14 series, the team that has won the opener has gone onto win the series 10 times. The Devils, however, lost the opener in their series against the Flyers and New York Rangers and managed to survive.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter has been here before
Eight seasons ago, Kings coach Darryl Sutter steered the Calgary Flames to the Stanley Cup final, only to lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a seventh and deciding game. But he's back in the saddle again, and he would like to win something that brothers Duane and Brent have from a their playing days - a Stanley Cup ring.
Duane won four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders in the early 1980s, while Brent joined him on that same dynasty team for two championships in 1981-82 and 1982-83.
Devils projected forward lines
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Patrik Elias - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Starting goalie: Martin Brodeur
Kings projected forward lines
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan
Starting goalie: Jonathan Quick
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