2012 Stanley Cup FinalsNo matter which team wins the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, they will be the lowest-seeded team to have ever done so, as the New Jersey Devils finished as the No. 6 team in the Eastern Conference and the Los Angeles Kings finished eighth in the Western Conference. None of that matters now, as both teams got hot when they needed to most, particularly the Kings, who have steam-rolled their way to the Finals in impressive fashion, having lost just two games so far in the postseason.
The Devils have lost six games in the playoffs, dropping three in their opening series against the Florida Panthers, who match-up well against New Jersey, but the Devils moved past Philadelphia and the New York Rangers in fine fashion, dropping three games against those two.
The Series PriceFans have certainly been more enamored with the Kings' postseason run more than they have that of the Devils and Los Angeles is a hefty favorite at odds of -165, while the Devils are at +145.
NOTE: The odds are listed in money line format. If the money line is a new concept for you, read Understanding Money Lines.
The TeamsThe Los Angeles Kings had scoring issues during the regular season, but addressed some of those at the trade deadline when they added Jeff Carter. While the Kings offense didn't immediately take off, the Kings have been one of the top scoring teams in the playoffs, trailing only Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, who inflated each other's stats by failing to play defense.
The Kings have a solid defense, led by Drew Doughty, who is playing the way he is capable of, and you won't find a bigger fan of goaltender Jonathan Quick than myself, who believes he should have received the Hart nomination that went to Henrik Lundqvist, as well as should be the winner of the Vezina Trophy.
The Devils aren't the trapping team of years past and play an aggressive forechecking style that is actually entertaining to watch and they have several top-tier forwards, such as Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. The supporting cast is strong too, with guys like Patrik Elias, David Clarkson, Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac, while the team's fourth line has chipped in with some huge goals the past few games.
The team defense is decent, not great, but not as bad as most people say, while 40-year-old Martin Brodeur has come to life this postseason and is playing as well as he has in several years.
Bottom LineSo far, we've done well in the playoffs by taking the underdogs and I really can't see any reason to stop now. The Devils have home-ice advantage and are getting a decent price.
The Devils have just a few players left from their last Stanley Cup championship, while the Kings have several players who have won Cups with other teams, so Stanley Cup Finals experience shouldn't be a big factor, except between the pipes.
If I had to pick a goalie for next season, I wouldn't hesitate to take Quick over one of my all-time favorites, Brodeur. But if I have to take a goalie for a best-of-7 series right now, I would have to go with the old man who has led his team to three Stanley Cup titles over the years.
Quick has played in the playoffs before, so this has been nothing new, but the pressure is going to be raised several degrees now and there's no substitute for experience.