June 3, 2012
Prudential Center awaits Devils
By Rob Longley, QMI Agency
NEWARK, N.J. - Less than an hour after Jeff Carter’s overtime winner here Saturday night, workers at the Prudential Center were tearing down the stands at the ends of the rink.
The obvious question now, of course, is whether the building will be needed for hockey again this spring.
Unless the Devils get off to a much better start in Monday’s Game 3 - and that likely means scoring in the first 10 minutes of the game - it could be broom time. And if the Kings sweep it in four, it would be the first time in a Stanley Cup Final since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings stormed past Carolina.
A sweep would also tie the 1988 Edmonton Oilers with one of the most impressive records in NHL history - winning four seven-game series to claim the Cup in just 18 games.
Think the Eastern seaboard teams have it easy travel wise? You bet they do. Game 3 on Monday will be the Devils' first trip outside of the Eastern time zone since early January. When the Devils flew to L.A. On Sunday, it was the first time they boarded a jet since Game 7 of Round 1 vs. Florida ... The Kings got the jump in the race home as well, opting for a flight immediately following Game 2 which would have landed them at LAX in the wee hours. Coach Darryl Sutter said players all should have been in bed by 4:30 a.m. Pacific ... The rush to depart led to a neat exchange between coach goaltender Jonathan Quick and coach Darryl Sutter following the game. Sutter waded into the big scrum in front of Quick's stall and said "Speed it up, son." A half-an answer later and the goalie was into the showers ... If you ever get the chance, check out the routine Quick goes through just before he leaves the ice following the pre-game warmup. Willing to bet you've never seen a goaltender move so quickly ... Love the way Devils goalie Martin Brodeur gives up some of the net glove side to dare shooters to go there. There's a reason both of the Kings goals on Saturday were blocker side ... As great an individual effort as Jeff Carter unleashed for the OT winner in Game 2, it didn't hurt that Dustin Penner was providing a big - all 6-foot-4, 242 pounds of him - screen.
Got a chuckle out of Devils rookie forward Adam Henrique the other day when I told him of the email blast I received last round after writing that he was from Brantford. While the OT hero in clinching games from Rounds 1 and 3 was born in Wayne Gretzky’s home town, he has lived outside of the nearby small town of Burford, Ontario, all of his life. "They're pretty passionate," Henrique said of his hometown backers. "I'm going to have to get the media guide changed to Burford. It's been pretty cool, a nice feeling. Mom and Dad are always telling me about what's going on. They've been watching all the games in the arena there. I don't know if (the excitement back home) has really hit me yet. I'm just playing." ... This from a proud resident of Ontario’s Forest City - Game 2 was London 2, New Jersey 1. Both goalscorers, Carter and Drew Doughty, grew up and played their minor hockey in the city ... Doughty, who scored the first goal on Saturday and had an assist on the overtime winner in Game 1, logged game-high ice time in both - 32:19 Saturday and 28:15 in the opener.
According to the odds posted by online sports book, Bet365.com, the most likely conclusion to the series is a 4-0 sweep. The odds on that are just plus 140 meaning a $10 bet nets you a $14 profit ... Think the Devils can win four in a row? That can get you 20-1 ... With two overtime wins, the Kings haven't exactly been dominant, but they play with supreme confidence. In the intermission between the third period and OT, the players believed it was just a matter of time: "We knew we had a goal in here somewhere," forward Jarret Stoll said. "That's all we were talking about in the intermission - someone had it ... Obviously if the Kings win they will be the lowest seed to capture the Cup since the seeding formula began in the 1993-94 season. The Devils, who were seeded fifth in 1995, are the previous low. That Devils team, by the way, was the only champion to go the distance without having home-ice advantage in any foe the four rounds ... The Kings are 4-0 in OT these playoffs with a different hero each time - Carter, Anze Kopitar in Game 1' Jarret Stoll (Game 5 Western Conference quarter final) and Penner (Game 5 Western Conference final) ... Updated numbers on Quick these playoffs after lowering both categories on Saturday - 1.44 goals against, .947 save percentage.
The atmosphere may have looked good on TV, but the Prudential Center didn't seem to have SC Final-worthy buzz inside the building. Funny scene outside before Game 2 where a mob of Devils fans were mugging for the camera. It was clearly staged, however, as they were the only dozen people in the area ... Nothing against the Devils impressive route to get here, but if this turns out to be a clean sweep, blame the early exits of the Penguins, Bruins and Flyers for making this one of the least interesting finals in recent memory.