Tag Archives: Ilya Kovalchuk

Kings-Devils Set for Stanley Cup Showdown

It’s quite unexpected, but expected to become a legendary matchup. The Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils have punched their ticket to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. Very few anticipated these two teams would be good, let alone great. Very few foretold these two cities would gain hockey elite status. Few doubt that this will be a runaway series for either team. Welcome to the thinking fan’s style of hockey.

The Los Angeles Kings barely made it into the playoffs coming in at the No. 8 seed. Representing a new generation and geographical era of beach-leagues, the Kings have given Southern California exactly what they knew they had in their midst. Billboards lined the Hollywood Hills, Kings jerseys were sported on Rodeo Drive and talk of rising stars became household names. LaLa Land is riding the wave of success.

The Kings railed through the Stanley Cup Playoffs on a mission. Only taking one hit to the Phoenix Coyotes, the Kings momentum is not a streak rather a mantra. There are so many factors that will give the Kings the edge in this series, but the strength of this team is their versatility, confidence and creativity.

Captain Dustin Brown has been an underrated player for years. Brown is the epitome of the quiet leader and workhorse. He isn’t the grandstander expecting to be the leading scorer on the team. He shares the victory equally and rallies behind the skilled talent assembled on the ice. Brown is both versatile and veracious. He can hit a goal from any angle and hit an opponent with every angle. The captain drew the most penalties in the league this season, yet won’t waste a scoring chance bantering with an opponent. Brown is the freight train you didn’t see coming.

Brown’s line with  Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams have combined for 42 points in 14 games and a plus-32. They’ve produced four shorthanded goals and three game-winning goals. In the playoffs, expect the Kings to dazzle. This line has scored the first goal of the game five times, which sets the tone for the each game in the series.

Los Angeles has a sturdy offense, but their netminder is unstoppable. Vezina finalist Jonathan Quick is the remaining finalist still standing. Though he’s hit some rough patches, Quick led the league with 10 shutouts, finished second with a 1.95 goals-against average, plus added a .929 save percentage (5th overall). Quick can take down Marty Brodeur. He’s really the secret to their success. The goalie dominated in the first-round of the Western Conference playoffs ousting the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks.

New Jersey has rebounded from terrible times. Coming in at the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, no one saw this team surviving into the playoffs. After beating the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, the Devils are the new studs in the stable. Headed by General Manager Lou Lamoriello, the Devils are experiencing a renaissance. This is great news for Devils fans, Newark and New Jersey. Controversy surrounding the team’s bankruptcy has been prominent. Lamoriello’s acquisition of forward Ilya Kovalchuk spurred a battle with the NHL costing the team a draft pick and hefty fines. Who’s looking good now? The New Jersey Devils SB Nation blog  In Lou We Trust exemplifies all the the Devils represent. Lou has stood behind his team and the city of Newark. Though many doubted his vision, Lou has proven his vision was genius.

Captain quandaries plagued the Devils early in the season. It had been rumored that star forward Zach Parise was looking for a way out. Kovalchuk vs. Parise became the question as the season progressed. Parise won in large part to appease his level of commitment and experience with New Jersey. As the matinee-idol, Parise is the chosen one to become the future of this franchise.

New Jersey is the New Jersey Devils. Hard work, mental toughness, resilience, and serving up the honest play will make New Jersey a devilish opponent for Hockeywood. Brodeur and Quick will ignite the veteran-rookie debate as the goaltender has achieved significant status in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

Expect the series to last seven games. Los Angeles will take home the Stanley Cup.

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Devils Delight in Opening Night

It wasn’t Newark or Hoboken, but it was the home of the Albany Devils, the AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, where the win over the New York Rangers revitalized a new Devils era in the Garden State.

The future is looking bright for the New Jersey Devils as they beat the New York Rangers, 2-1, in preasesaon action. For the first time since 1996, the Devils, who have won three Stanley Cup titles since 1995, did not make the postseason last year. This year the chances of a preseason playoff berth is clearly up for grabs.

Petr Sykora, a Stanley Cup winner for the Devils in 2000, scored the first goal in the Devils-Rangers preseason opener. Sykora, who hasn’t  played in the NHL since the 2009-10 season, was invited to Devils training camp.

New head coach DeBoer’s style was introduced during training camp and encouraged more open ice skating.

Defenseman Andy Greene likes the new direction. The Devils re-signed Andy Greene to a 4-year, $12 million despite his 14-point decline and a minus-23. Greene remains a conisitent puck-moving player on the blue line:

“Obviously, it’s still pretty early, but we all like the type of style that he wants us to play. It’s fast paced and up tempo, and that’s a style I really like. It encourages us to play freer and that’s a plus.”

DeBoer, previously the coach of the Florida Panthers from 2008-2011, led the Panthers to a 30-40-12 record and was dismissed at the end of the season.

Second-year forward Jacob Josefson added,  “I like the high-tempo practices. I like the fast pace. It makes you feel like you’ve been on the ice for a long time, but you really haven’t. Obviously, he has a game plan that he believes in and it’s up to us players to get into it. Things are definitely looking up this year.”

Rookie Adam Larsson has become the new defensive hope of the New Jersey Devils. The 18-year old rookie will have some veteran defenseman assiting in what should make for an intersting year. Returing veteran defenders include:  Henrik Tallinder (16 points, minus-6), Anton Volchenkov (125 hits in 57 games) and Bryce Salvador, who missed the 2010-11 season with an inner ear ailment.

Adam Larsson

Adam Larsson

Placing Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and Patrick Elias up front gives the Devils a front line to be reckoned with if the thin blue line can hold the army back. Travis Zajac is predicted to make a mid-season return. And if Andy Larsson does play in Jersey this season, he’ll give Parise a break from the matinee idol hysteria.

Zach Parise

Zach Parise