Kings ultimate road warriors
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Los Angeles Kings' Anze Kopitar (L) watches as New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur (R) makes a save during the second period in Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup final. (REUTERS)
The Los Angeles Kings keep proving over and over again in these playoffs they’re road warriors.
The Kings walked into the Prudential Center Wednesday and battled the odds in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final by knocking off the New Jersey Devils with a 2-1 overtime victory on the strength of Anze Kopitar’s winning goal.
While there was talk the Kings were going to be rusty after a seven-day layoff following the Western Conference final, the Kings were the better team, outshooting the Devils by a 25-18 count en route to its ninth straight win on the road.
Prior to Wednesday, the home team had won every Game 1 of the Cup final since the lockout. The last road team to win the opener was the Calgary Flames in 2004 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It just looks like these Kings are unstoppable.
OFF THE GLASS
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry picked the Kings to win the Cup. Why? “I picked them at the start,” he screamed. “Twenty-three North Americans, 14 Canadians and eight guys from Ontario.” Hard to disagree with that logic, but what about Kopitar? The Slovenian scored the overtime winner and had four shots ... The NHL frowns upon major announcements during the final. No one was going to tell Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom to cancel his press conference Thursday in Detroit where he’s expected to announce his retirement. Lidstrom, 42, can choose any time he likes ... The Devils recorded their first shot of the second period with 5:30 remaining. It was a pretty easy save for Kings goalie Jonathan Quick as the puck slid into him after what was literally a swing-and-a-miss by Zach Parise.
AROUND THE BOARDS
Expect a lot of focus on Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk. Signed to a 15-year deal in July, 2010, this is his first trip to the final. Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello defended the signing in an interview with HNIC’s Ron MacLean before the puck was dropped. “He was in a situation in Atlanta where he was expected to do everything,” said Lamoriello. Kovalchuk better do more if the Devils are going to win. He played 21:13 and had 1 shot ... The Devils might want to do something about that board with SiriusXM ad at the Prudential Center that was causing strange bounces and handing out scoring chances ... Not sure what Parise was trying to pull by throwing that puck into the net in the third period. It was was just ridiculous.
THE MORNING SKATE
Didn’t take long for Kings captain Dustin Brown to send a message by throwing his body around. He leads the league in hits in the playoffs and he started off the night by hitting Parise. Then, for good measure, Brown hit Martin Brodeur and David Clarkson ... Got to give the 40-year-old Brodeur credit. He is showing no signs of slowing down, coming up with a huge stop on Kings defenceman Drew Doughty with the score tied 1-1 in the third by stacking the pads. Old school style ... Anybody who picked Kings fourth-liner Colin Fraser to score the opening goal on the second shot Brodeur faced put up their hand. Didn’t think so. No one saw Fraser’s first of the playoffs coming. Pretty sure the fans in Edmonton were thrilled ... New Jersey defenceman Mark Fayne had a wide open net for the Devils in the third and missed it. That can’t happen, but he is on a 42-game goal scoring drought so that explains a lot.
THIS 'N' THAT
The Devils were in an uncomfortable position after going down 1-0 in the first. They’ve outscored opponents 23-10 in the opening frame in these playoffs. The Devils and Kings were tied with five shots each, but Los Angeles led where it counts ... Best hit of the night: Devils winger Steve Bernier on Kings centre Trevor Lewis. That’s what New Jersey has to do to be effective ... Nice to see New York Jets coach Rex Ryan in the stands. He’s a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan but I guess he couldn’t wait much longer to see them play in the final.
RUMOURS DU JOUR
Since Lidstrom is likely going to announce he’s done, expect the speculation to shift into high gear the Wings will make a pitch for Predators defenceman Ryan Suter. Talks to get a contract in place with the Preds will begin this week, but Suter’s not expected to stay in Nashville. Detroit has the money to sign Suter and they’ve got a big hole to fill with Lidstrom gone. There’s talk Suter’s rights could be moved before July 1 ... The NHL GMs met in New York before Game 1. Trade talks were on the menu. Sources say Columbus GM Scott Howson will get active in trying to move star Rick Nash. The asking price remains high but the San Jose Sharks have told Howson they’ll sweeten the pot from their February offer ... Asked whether coach Bob Hartley should accept a job offer from Calgary or Montreal, a league executive quipped: “Neither, his job is much safer in the Swiss Alps.”