NHL Playoffs: One Step To Go In Kings’ Coronation
They’re not quite at the peak, but they can see it from where they are. The Los Angeles Kings are on the verge of ending a 45-year drought and need only a single victory to sweep the New Jersey Devils and win their first-ever Stanley Cup. DALE PERTH prepares the rose petals.
It’s appropriate that the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, is among the throng of celebrities seen at the Staples Center during Game 3 on Monday night. He was the captain of the Kings the only other time they got this far, when they lost to the Montreal Canadiens four games to one in 1993. It’s a far different scenario this time, with L.A. utterly dominating their opponents every step of the way.
A four-game sweep is not out of the question; even if that doesn’t happen, Kings netminder Jonathan Quick has already turned in a performance for the ages. The 1.36 goals-against average and .950 save percentage indicate an outstanding run for the 6-foot-1 native of Milford, Connecticut.
As outclassed and worn out as they’ve appeared, though, the New Jersey Devils still have some say in this. For one thing, New Jersey is 4-0 in their last four games after a loss of three goals or more. The Devils are 5-2 in their last seven games as a road underdog of +151 to +200, and they are 10-4 in the last 14 games they played on a Wednesday.
Here’s the most important trend, though: they are 1-4 in their last five Stanley Cup Final contests. In addition, they’ve scored a grand total of two goals in the last three games.
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur isn’t convinced. Even though they face a truly do-or-die situation, he remains confident they can get back into the series. Of course, we shall see if they can come up with a suitable response now that their backs are against the wall.
They’ve never led in this series,but all they need to change that is to come up with the opening tally in Game 4. For that reason, winger Petr Sykora will draw back into the Devils’ lineup while light-scoring center Jacob Josefson will sit. Defenseman Henrik Tallnder will also suit up, taking Peter Harrold's place on the blueline.
With all the talk about what a monster team they are on the road, the Kings are pretty good at home, too: 4-1 in their last five there. They are also a solid Wednesday team, going 12-3 in their last 15 midweek matches. In fact, point to any statistical indicator and it’s likely to favor the Western Conference champions, including the NHL betting line for Game 4 along with the futures betting. It’s not even close.
Regardless of what happens in Game 4, Hollywood has already become Hockeywood.