Sportsbook.ag NHL Stanley Cup Finals Finally Begin
No. 8 LOS ANGELES KINGS at No. 6 NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Los Angeles -115 & 4.5 over -120
The Devils and Kings square off in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night as two underdogs begin their quest for hockey's holy grail.
The Kings are just shredding up the record books this postseason. Along with becoming just the second No. 8 seed ever to make the Finals (along with Edmonton in 2006), Los Angeles is first team in NHL history to go undefeated on the road en route to the Cup Finals, posting a perfect 8-0 record away from home. On Wednesday, history will once again not be on the Kings' side: the home team has won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals six straight times, and the road team has won Game 1 only two times since 2000. Unfortunately, the odds are not enticing enough to make a strong play on the Devils, who are 6-2 at home this postseason. Instead, look to the total, which is over-adjusted for the exceptional goaltending of Jonathan Quick. In the six Game 1's of the post-lockout era, the average total score has been a rather high 5.7. The Kings haven't played in nine days, and will show signs of rust early-a trend that favors an offensive-minded team like New Jersey.
The Kings success in this postseason has been made simpler by their road dominance. In all three series, L.A. was able to take a 2-0 lead in the series before ever stepping foot on home ice. Los Angeles won each of their three Game 1's by two goals (4-2 over the Canucks, 3-1 over the Blues, and 4-2 over the Coyotes).
No team has had an answer for the Kings' top line of Dustin Brown (seven goals, nine assists), Anze Kopitar (six goals, nine assists) and Justin Williams (two goals, nine assists). The trio has been the most efficient line in the postseason, and expect more of the same against a New Jersey defense that has allowed more goals per game (2.33) than the Kings' last opponent, the Coyotes (2.19), in these playoffs.
The Devils love to jump out to early leads, scoring first in 10 out of 18 games this postseason. If they have any chance of solving Quick, the Devs must continue to generate traffic in front of the crease like they did against the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist. New Jersey will not be afraid of a world-class goaltender like Quick, especially since it already disposed of one in the last round, but the defense must work harder to protect leads against the most efficient offensive team in the playoffs.
This will be the fifth Stanley Cup Finals appearance for Devils' goaltender Martin Brodeur. The 40-year-old netminder has won three Cups with New Jersey, and a victory in this series would tie him with the legendary Patrick Roy at four. Interestingly, Brodeur has never won a Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) despite backstopping the Devils to three championships, but if New Jersey wants to prevail in this series, he will need to be the difference against a high-flying opponent like the Kings. Brodeur has a 2.04 GAA and .927 SV Pct. in the 2012 playoffs.