New Jersey Devils 3, Los Angeles Kings 1 (LA leads the series, 3-1)
Those Who Shined
1. Bryce Salvador, Defenseman, New Jersey Devils
Very quietly Bryce Salvador has solidified himself as the x-factor for the Devils in the 2012 postseason. Now, he may not be the one scoring the goals, so his name isn’t one to appear on most fans radar. But, I assure you that his presence is of as much importance as any other skater on the roster. This is because when Salvador plays well, New Jersey quite literally does not lose. Don’t believe me? Take a look at his numbers in each playoff series. Salvador has 13 points in 22 games, but they all came in winning efforts. Wednesday night he recorded two assist and had a plus two rating on the ice, which is an outstanding night of hockey. In the other three contest against the Kings (all defeats), he has zero points, four shots on goal and a negative three rating. If New Jersey hopes to keep this series alive at the Prudential Center in game five, they better make sure this man is in the picture.
2. Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique and Ilya Kovalchuk — New Jersey Forwards
This trio makes up three of the top four regular season scorers for the Devils, and they were in top form Wednesday night. They each tallied a goal, which gives them a combined 17 for the postseason — obviously a very respectable number. But, they are not being highlighted for individual accomplishments. Instead, I think it is pivotal to recognize the combined effort of three goals against this typically unbreakable Los Angeles defense. In fact, all three goals were scored in one period after the Kings had allowed just two goals in the other three contests combined. And, even though just two of the goals were charged to outstanding netminder Jonathan Quick, this marks just the third time in 18 games that an opponent has tallied three goals against Los Angeles. Give those Jersey forwards a pat on the pack; they deserve it.
3. Drew Doughty, Defenseman, Los Angeles Kings
There weren’t many bright spots in the rare Los Angeles defeat Wednesday night, but Drew Doughty continued his excellent play in the series. He scored the Kings only goal, which came in a crucial moment, exactly one minute after the Devils took a one-goal advantage. This marked the fifth consecutive game in which he tallied at least one point and gives him 14 overall — third best on the team, even as a defenseman. And most importantly, including the game four defeat, Doughty has put together an on-ice rating of plus 12 in the postseason. When you have defenseman that are that far in the positive, you’re typically a tough squad to overcome.