The Stanley Cup Finals are finally here, and it appears that this could be a fun ride to the finish. Wednesday night the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings, two of the most unlikely championship candidates, battled for more than 68 minutes before a winner was crowned. And, for the 9th consecutive time in this postseason, it was the Kings that stole a game on the road off the stick of Anze Kopitar.
Los Angeles Kings 2, New Jersey Devils 1 (OT) (LA leads the series, 1-0)
Those Who Shined
1. Anze Kopitar, Center, Los Angeles Kings
Kopitar has been the unquestioned offensive leader for the Kings all season, so it seems fitting that he was the hero on the largest stage. His overtime goal was his seventh tally of the postseason and gives him a team-leading (tied with Dustin Brown) 16 points. Not surprisingly, Los Angeles seems unstoppable when Kopitar is involved offensively. In fact, he has posted just one point in the two defeats, but has 15 in the 13 victories. And how about one more impressive statistic for you — Kopitar has recorded at least one point in eight of his last nine games; the definition of consistency.
2. The Los Angeles Kings Defense
Now, it’s easy to look at the scoreboard and immediately give all the credit to Jonathan Quick. I mean, he is arguably the best goaltender in hockey and he did hold a fairly dangerous offense to one goal in more than 68 minutes. But, the Kings defensive effort extends to everyone on the ice on this occasion. Los Angeles held the Devils to just 17 shots on goal — only three in the 2nd period — and prevented them from converting when they had the man advantage. I have to be honest with you, I don’t think anyone is beating Quick if they are able to test him that rarely. New Jersey must turn that tide in game two.
3. Martin Brodeur, Goaltender, New Jersey Devils
The ageless wonder between the pipes for the Devils was excellent once again Wednesday night. Brodeur was tested far more often than his counterpart on the other end of the ice, but he found a way to keep his troops in the contest. Overall, he sent away 23 of 25 shots, which is a save percentage of 92 percent — a respectable start on any night. Unfortunately, Brodeur is going to be forced to go above and beyond this type of effort if he hopes to bring home a Stanley Cup. Similar to his fantastic triumph over Henrik Lundqvist, beating Jonathan Quick is extremely tall task at his current level of play.