To say these Stanley Cup Playoffs have been exciting is not doing them enough justice.  There have been underdogs, overtime thrillers, and bone-jarring hits. Now it all comes down to two unlikely competitors: the 8th seed Kings and the 6th seed Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, and Dustin Brown (left to right) have helped make the Kings dominant.

The Los Angeles Kings came into the season as one of the Western Conference favorites, equipped with star-power in Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar and a super-star goalie in Jonathan Quick. They got off to a slow start and eventually fired head coach, Terry Murray. 4 games later, the Kings hired former Blackhawk left winger and coach, Daryl Sutter, made a few trades and, walla, the Kings’ started to win. The Kings clawed their way into the playoffs on the back of goalie, Jonathan Quick, grabbing the 8th seed in the West. Going against the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks, most were just happy the Kings got that far. The Kings played like a different team. They became resilient, wise, and belligerent. If the Canucks tried to do some fancy stickhandling, the Kings would let them have it, crushing them along the boards. Dustin Brown played out of his mind, and Jonathan Quick was a demigod en route to a 5-game series victory. The surprisingly dominant play continued into the second round, with the Kings sweeping the 2nd seed, St. Louis Blues. Many, including your’s truly, thought the Kings had met their match in the Phoenix Coyotes during the Western Conference Finals. With every line contributing, and Jonathan Quick continuing to do Jonathan Quick things, the Kings clinched the Western Conference Championship in an overtime thriller in Game 5, but some believe the Kings are out of magic facing off against the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup.

Throughout the regular season, it was painfully apparent that Martin Brodeur was 40-years old and at times, it looked like Broduer’s backup was the best goalie on the team. When the Devils made the playoffs as a 6th seed, something clicked for Marty. It took the Devils 7 games to take out the Florida Panthers in the first round, but the looked strong while defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in 5 games. The Eastern Conference Finals hosted a subway series featuring the Devils and the top-seeded Rangers. Ilya Kovalchuck and Zach Parise have done exactly what was needed from them and helped shut down the Rangers.

The Devils won both regular season meetings against the Kings, but that is to be taken with 4,500,000 grains of salt. The playoff Kings and the regular-season Kings are two different teams.

The playoff Kings and the Devils play similar styles of hockey. Both teams have two studs on offense (for the Kings it’s Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar, for the Devils it’s Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuck), a defensive beast (Kings: Drew Doughty, Devils: Bryce Salvador), and 2 Conn Smythe Trophy-favorite goalies (Kings: Jonathan Quick, Devils: Martin Brodeur).

This series will come down to Jonathan Quick. Throughout this season, Quick has been nothing short of a monster. In the past few games though, Quick’s play has slipped. When Quick plays as well as he can, the Kings feeds off him and can’t be beat. If Quick is only good, not great, the Kings won’t stand a chance.

The man. The myth. The legend. Martin Brodeur: Best Goalie Ever.

The main reason for the Kings turnaround is the play from every line. During the regular season, the Kings only had one, or maybe on a good night, two strong lines. These playoffs? Every line has produced. 18 different players have scored a point (assist or goal) this post-season. The Devils have incredible depth as well. This will be a physical series, so depth will be essential for both teams.

The Kings have been surprisingly aggressive since Sutter was hired ­–getting into fights and knocking opponents to the ground – but their power play has been awful, only scoring a pathetic 8.1% of the time. The older Devils will use this aggression to their advantage and put Kings in the penalty box and force mistakes. I feel stupid saying this, but this is to the Kings’ advantage. It seems crazy, but the Kings are better on the penalty kill than they are during a power play. They’ve been so good during the penalty kill that some fans cheer in Staples Center when the Kings commit a penalty.

I think the Kings win in 5, but if they don’t rap the series up by then, Marty Brodeur will be eating popcorn out of the Stanley Cup while watching The Avengers with his kids on his day alone with Lord Stanley’s Cup.

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