June 4, 2012
Kings one win awayOn verge of winning first Cup
By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
LOS ANGELES - When they get around to filling out the toe tag for New Jersey Devils' 2011-12 season, they can put down the cause of death as suffocation by the Los Angeles Kings' penalty killers.
It's not officially over, but does anybody out there think the Devils are going to find a way to come back from the 0-3 hole in which they find themselves in the Stanley Cup final after Monday night's 4-0 loss at the Staples Center?
The Devils went 0-for-6 on the power play Monday and are now 0-for-12 in the final.
Now the Kings can win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history Wednesday night.
“If we win one more game,” said Kings forward Dustin Penner, “I hope the San Andreas fault can take it.”
Give a lot of credit to the Kings and goaltender Jonathan Quick, of course, for the Devils' demise. They were daringly aggressive when down a man, especially given the poor ice quality. As former King Jim Fox's once said about the ice here at the old Fabulous Forum: "I've seen better ice on my windshield."
The Devils had a wonderful opportunity handed to them with five minutes to go in the opening period with the game tied 0-0.
First, L.A.'s Mike Richards was given a penalty for an elbow and then Jeff Carter was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking when he gouged the face of Devils forward Adam Henrique. The Devils had a full minute of 5-on-3 hockey but couldn't put a shot on net.
Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk had a couple of chances but fired one wide and had another couple blocked by Kings defenceman Matt Greene, who gave his club a big boost by denying the other team’s top player.
“You can just tell how much it means to the guys. It excites and bumps everyone up on the bench to watch guys go down and take a shot like that consecutively over three different one-timers,” said Penner.
Devils coach Peter DeBoer agreed it was the difference in the game and now, perhaps, the final.
“We need to get the first goal, absolutely,” he said. “We had some power-play opportunities there. We need to score one. Credit to them. Their goalie made some big saves early.”
“I’m not going to point fingers at anything or anyone,” said Devils captain Zach Parise. “We had good puck movement and Quick made some good saves. That’s it. We would have loved to have scored there. It’s execution. Same as 5-on-5. Plays were there. They didn’t go in.”
To add to the Devils' miseries, the Kings power play came alive for the first power-play goals of the final. Carter and Justin Williams scored with the man advantage in the third to put an exclamation point on the win.
The Staples Center record crowd of 18,764 burst out with a chant of "We want the Cup!"
The eighth-seeded Kings are now 15-2 in this remarkable post-season.
“That sounds like you’re playing a crib game,” said Penner when asked to put it in perspective.
A key point of this final: L.A.'s top players have been getting the job done. Kopitar had the winner in Game 1 and another two points Monday night. Williams has been brilliant, along with captain Dustin Brown, defenceman Drew Doughty and, of course, Quick, who is looking like the Conn Smythe favourite as playoff MVP.
New Jersey's top guys -- Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Henrique -- are still eating bagels.
At one point in the third period, they showed broadcaster Al Michaels on the big screen and it brought to mind his famous call of the 1980 Olympic win by the Americans.
"Do you believe in miracles?"
In the Devils' case, no.