Kings Cruise to Win Game 3
No question, the Los Angeles Kings were and have been the favorites since the Stanley Cup Finals have gotten underway, even though were ranked eighth in the Western Conference. The Kings truly are better than the New Jersey Devils, or the Devils for no rhyme or reason, have not figured out anything over the course of the first two games.
For a team that had one of the best power plays in the playoffs, the Devils are really showing how self induced this potential sweep really is. The Kings dismantled the Devils last night, by a score of 4-0. The weirdest part
Only scoring two goals in the previous two games, the Devils should have realized that Jon Quick refuses to get beat by a puck that is aimed low. In order to beat Quick, did the Devils try and score high in Game 3 to try and gets some offense going? Absolutely not.
Did the Devils pass enough on the power play while consciously making an effort to shoot for the open top corners? Nope. Even when they had six power plays, including a five-on-three for over a minute did they attempt to shoot high from the points? Not until it was too late. Towards the end of the game, the Devils started to fire high shots from the points and it was clear they were getting through, hitting the post or crossbar at least three times just in the third period.
In terms of game play and momentum, the Devils were given the beginning of the game on a silver platter by the over-excited Kings. The Kings committed four penalties in the first half of this game(halfway through the second period). For the Devils to have four power plays in the beginning of the game, not converting a single man advantage opportunity yet this series and to continue this abysmal trend will cost them the Stanley Cup.
What even makes things look worse for the Devils, the Kings converted both of their power plays on just four shots. How in the world of sports, do the Devils only get three shots on net during six total power plays? The Kings outshot the Devils on the man advantage despite having four less opportunities.
Although the power play statistics are startling, what is even more impressive is the fact that the Kings registered a total of 55 hits in last night's game. The Devils were clearly getting physically dominated, considering they only delivered 32 hits of their own.
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The Kings line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Justin Williams has been the key in this series thus far. Each of the line mates have scored a series high three points in three games. The Slovenian, Kopitar has taken the lead for most points in the postseason after registering a goal and an assist last night, putting his totals eight goals and ten assists this postseason (18 points).
Not only is Kopitar leading the postseason in scoring, but that is simply telling half of the story of 6'3" Slovenian. The former 1st round draft pick, Kopitar now leads the postseason in plus/minus with +15 and in shorthanded goals with two. Kopitar's line is not only very explosive offensively, but with line mates Williams and Brown, the Kings first line is devastating on defense.
If Kopitar continues at his pace, the only player that could beat him out for Most Valuable Player of the playoffs is goaltender Jon Quick. The 26 year old goaltender ranks first in four categories including wins(15), save percentage(.950), goals against average(1.36), and shutouts(3). If a general manager was looking for one of the best franchise goaltenders, they would incorporate each of those statistics first before all others.
The Kings look like they are going to get the sweep, especially after last night's game. The Devils seem to not learn anything from a game-to-game stand point. Their adjustments seem to be either non-existent or not executed. Either way, if the Devils want to save any face in this situation, they must win Game 4.
The old quote is 'the hardest game to win in the playoffs is the game to knock a team out of the playoffs.' Hockey fans will be able to see how much truth there is to that quote or how good the Kings are in defying that quote. Whatever the Devils do, they cannot lose like they did last night in an elimination game.
By: Stephen London
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer