1. Zach Parise Vs. Dustin Brown
The parallels between these two American hockey stars are uncanny. They play the same position, wear the captain’s “C” for their respective squads, are both making their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance, and employ a ferocious, non-stop effort that results in game changing hits, goals, and every little thing in-between that could possibly contribute to a win. Brown is known for his ability to get under opponent’s skin drawing the most penalties during the regular season while Parise’s slick skating ability generates chances other players can only dream about. Which captain will get the better of the other and hoist their first Cup?
2. Can The Kings Continue Their Road Magic?
As an eighth seed, the path to the Stanley Cup isn’t exactly paved with gold. That’s why the Kings NHL record ten consecutive road playoff wins is the key component in their playoff run, and that success will need to continue as they find themselves with only three home games in a series that requires four wins. The red hot goaltending of Jonathan Quick will need to manifest itself once again in New Jersey, thousands of miles away from the Staples Center.
3. Martin Brodeur Vs. Jonathan Quick
The Devils legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur has shown he still has something to prove despite multiple career Stanley Cup wins, and owning just about every important record for his position. Jonathan Quick, fourteen years Marty’s junior, is the best young net-minder in the game next to the recently dispatched Henrik Lunqvist. With the offensive flourishes sure to be crashing and testing each of the aforementioned, who will manage to bend but not break? The wily veteran Brodeur? Or the young gun Quick in his prime?
4. The Devils Fourth Line
The surprise emergence and clutch offensive production of Ryan Carter, Steve Bernier, and Stephen Gionta has helped catapult the upstart Devils this far with timely goal scoring in nearly every game this postseason. These contributions add a new element of depth to an already deep scoring and forechecking capable team. Here’s the line for their collective performance through the playoffs thus far; Goals (9), Assists (10), Plus/Minus (+17).
With several days off to game plan can the Kings find a way to slow down the high flying fourth line of New Jersey?
5. Which Team Can Be The Most Consistent?
Unless one of the goaltenders comes up with four shut outs, chances are the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals will mirror the style of play exemplified in the Rangers/Devils series rather than the Coyotes no show against the Kings. Aside from the Devils dalliance in the first round against the Panthers, both teams have shown the ability to overwhelm and dominate in the offensive zone. Conversely, like a flick of a light switch, New Jersey and Los Angeles’ games require an all out intensity on the forecheck that can be difficult to maintain, leading to the occasional dive into maddening inconsistency. The deciding factor in this series will likely come down to who can keep skating and pressuring on both ends of the ice. If either team lets up for even a moment, chances are they’ll be catching their breath while the puck rests in the back of their own net. Kovalchuk, Kopitar, Brown, Parise, Richards, Zajac. On paper we’re in for an even series, unless one team can shift into that extra gear as both the Devils and Kings have done to others all postseason long.