Five storylines to watch in final
CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
|New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur grins as he stretches at practice ahead of Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup finals. (REUTERS)
NEWARK - Here are five storylines to watch in the Stanley Cup final.
1. Power against power: The Devils and Kings are the third- and fourth-highest scoring teams in the playoffs, so we could be in for some entertaining hockey. It will be interesting to see how each team handles the other team's top offensive stars. Do they play power against power, say the Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk on the ice against the Kings' Dustin Brown? Neither of the coaches are big on matchups, so there could be a few shifts of best-on-best play.
2. The men in the masks: Devils veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur, 40, will be a sentimental favourite to win his fourth Stanley Cup in five tries. He is looking like the last of a generation of great Canadian goaltenders. The Kings' young Jonathan Quick is looking like the best of a growing wave of American goaltenders and is in his first final. Which will rule?
3. The battle in the middle: The Kings can throw out Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards as a 1-2 punch among their centres. The Devils can counter with Travis Zajac and rookie Adam Henrique. It looks like the Kings have the advantage there. Henrique has two series-clinching overtime goals. Can he keep it up against a guy like Richards?
4. On the short end: There is an interesting matchup between the Kings' penalty killing and the Devils power play. The Kings have scored a playoff-leading five short-handed goals and the Devils have allowed two shorties in the playoffs to go with the league-leading 13 they surrendered in the regular season. It's a combination that bears watching.
5. The zebras: The referees picked to work the final are Dan O'Halloran, Dan O'Rourke, Chris Rooney and Brad Watson. As a group they are a relatively inexperienced when it comes to post-season work, but have earned their spots in the final based on merit. Given both the Kings and the Devils play a somewhat similar style -- they both like to take the battle to the other team rather than sit back -- it wouldn't appear that how the game is called is going to be an advantage for either club.