May 30, 2012

The Stanley Cup final is finally here – so who will win?

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

It’s finally here! The Stanley Cup final that is.

After eight long, tiring months, we’re finally wrapping up Canada’s favourite winter sport just a few weeks before it’s officially summer. But enough about the ridiculous length of the NHL season, let’s talk about who’s going to hoist the Cup.

We’re really in uncharted waters with this Los Angeles-New Jersey matchup. For one, a team that finished eighth in its conference and lacks home-ice advantage is somehow the favourite to win it all.

It’s actually not all that unreasonable though; the Devils themselves were only a sixth seed and the Kings haven’t lost a game on the road this post-season. They’re not too shabby at home either, going 4-2.

This series is really going to come down to the goaltending. Between Martin Brodeur and Jonathan Quick, we’re going to be in for a real treat. Brodeur may be 40-years-old but he’s playing like a man half his age. Quick wasn’t too stellar in the regular season, but he’s the main reason that the Kings have looked unbeatable in the playoffs.

Whoever can lead their side to the win will likely be the one that hoist the Conn Smythe trophy.

Both teams are deep enough to role four lines comfortably, something that has helped each side make it this far. The aptly named Dwight King has gone from tough guy to hero on several occasions on the road here while the Devils have gotten a great effort from rookie Adam Henrique.

It’s not like the top-six guys are any slouches either; we’ve seen our share of highlights from the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Zach Parise.

Where I think the Kings have the greatest advantage is on defence. Drew Doughty is undoubtedly the best defenceman in this series, on both ends of the ice. Jersey will try to slow him down with their strong forechecking, but that should leave them a bit thin in retreat.

While many think this series is going to go six or maybe seven games, I think that it could easily wrap up in five. Even without home-ice advantage and facing a living legend like Marty, the Kings have that feel of what it takes to be a champ. L.A. has the hottest goalie of the past two months, the right chemistry and the clutch scoring needed to get it done.

Prediction: Los Angeles over New Jersey in five.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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