The Kings' Anze Kopitar has scored two goals in three games against the Devils, and both have been completely devastating. The first came in overtime to win Game 1, and while the second wasn't a game-winner, it sure felt like one. His tally in Monday night's Game 3 put the Kings up 2-0, a particularly wide gulf in a series in which the Devils have managed to score just twice.
Just as notable about both goals, though, is how beautifully they were set up by Justin Williams, L.A.'s 30-year-old forward who, somehow, remains relatively obscure despite playing on the team's top line. The Kings' top six guys include their captain, Dustin Brown, their marquee scorer, Kopitar, and a second line with plenty of name recognition: former Flyers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and of course our beloved Dustin Penner.
Anze Kopitar scored in overtime Wednesday to lift the Los Angeles Kings to a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, a series that most expect to be a close one. While there’s no natural rivalry to build on, there are plenty of interesting players and story lines that could add up to a memorable final few weeks before the long offseason.
So what type of series can we expect? It’s tough to say, but history tells us that the choices are limited. That’s because there are only 10 basic types of Stanley Cup finals, and the NHL seems to choose one randomly each season.
Here’s a look at all 10, along with examples from the past 20 years, tips on how to determine which one you’re watching, and what you can do about it.
Here is a video of the Official Team of L.A. Live the Only Team Still Currently Playing at L.A. Live, the Los Angeles Kings, beating the Phoenix Coyotes to advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1993.
The Kings lost the Cup in five games to the Montreal Canadiens, an outcome that scans as definitive yet had seemed quite unimaginable in the third period of Game 2. Up 2-1 late in the third, the Kings were less than two minutes away from returning to Los Angeles with a 2-0 series lead. The whistle was blown, and the Kings' Marty McSorley was called over.
Dale Hunter has radically altered the Washington Capitals.
He’s slashed the ice time of the club’s franchise forward, Alexander Ovechkin. He’s taken a team that used to be the exemplar of run-and-gun hockey in the modern NHL and converted it into a buttoned-down, defense-first bunch.
Shortly before Alexei Ponikarovsky followed up on his own shot to give the New Jersey Devils a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk had collected his own rebound too.
The first round of the NHL playoffs is quite possibly the two best weeks in all of sports. Yes, the Stanley Cup finals are nice, in that endlessly drawn-out “Why are they taking a week off before it starts?” way that the NHL insists upon. But the first round is pure adrenaline. It’s the very best the sport has to offer, every night, served up through a fire hose for two straight weeks.
And this year’s version might have been the most exciting in recent memory. It seemed like every game involved either overtime or a brawl or double-digit goals or some combination of all three. For fans of the 16 teams that made up the first round, the last two weeks have been amazing.
For the fans of those 16 teams. For the rest of us not so much.
"Probably an hour," he said, kidding-except-actually-serious.
Shortly afterward, in his postgame press conference, Rangers coach John Tortorella explained that winning this first-round series in seven games was no easy task, that it was invaluable experience for a team with so many youngsters. (The Rangers went into the playoffs with the least combined postseason experience of the 16 teams.) "They should be real proud of themselves," Tortorella said. "For about an hour."
Other than the Panthers and Devils, who will meet tonight, all of the teams in this year's NHL playoffs have played a game of their first-round postseason matchups. And just about all of them, probably much to the delight of the NHL and NBC, have been doozies.
Ground down, sore on Saturday night when the regular season ends. Ready to explode Wednesday as the playoffs begin. It’s the miracle of April.
When playoff energy returns, defense returns. Shooters get harassed and forced to bad angles; rebounds are cleared. Great chances become good chances that good goalies can stop. Every goal not scored seems bigger. Every save made seems better. It’s a goalie’s time of year.
You have to like attention to be a goalie. You have to want to be a hero. In the playoffs, you have your chance. You’re playing better than you’ve ever played, in games more important than you’ve ever been in. You can suddenly feel a wave build beneath you. A save, another, the noise of the crowd. You feel good. You feel great.