|Written by Michael|
Bet on the NHLFor the first time, in a long time, we have a NHL Western Conference Stanley Cup participant about as far west as you can travel, at least in the USA, with the Los Angeles Kings emerging from the number eight seed all the way to the top of the pile.
Beginning on Wednesday night, they will make the long coast to coast journey to meet the New Jersey Devils in a competition to win the 2012 Lord Stanleys Cup. So which team will add each players name to the silver trophy and have the honor of it's company for one day each, when this series concludes?
Let us start with the improbable events that landed the Kings here. As mentioned earlier, they were the last seeded team in the West when the playoffs began, albeit, one of the better eighth seeded teams in recent history. However, all they have done in this postseason is eliminate the Presidents Trophy winning and overall NHL number one seed Vancouver Canucks in five games of round one. They then went up against two seed St. Louis and swept them. They had just a little more trouble with the third seeded Phoenix Coyotes, but just a little, as they beat them in five games too. With this, L.A. has played only 14 games, 2 shy of the minimum to advance through three rounds.
On the other hand, we have a New Jersey franchise who came out of the East beginning as a six seed, but ultimately prevailing over the top seeded Rangers in six games of the Eastern Finals. It took them 18 contests to get here. This series should come down to which goaltender plays the best. It's hard not to give the nod to the Kings, Jonathan Quick, as he has posted incredible numbers of 1.54 goals against average and a .946 save percentage thus far in the playoffs. But don't discount future Hall of Famer, Martin Brodeur, as he will give it all he's got in what may be his final chance at another "Cup."
The only weakness the Kings have had this postseason is the power play, where at an 8 percent conversion rate they ranked 15th of all 16 playoff contenders. The series opens Wednesday night in Newwark, but L.A. is 8-0 on the road this postseason. The Kings are favored to win it all and go into the opening game at -$120 with the home ice Devils at even money for this contest. The over / under in game one is 4.5 total goals on a $110/$100 moneyline.