No matter that trying to divine the finishing point or the winner of any league and any series is like trying to squeeze water from a stone, it’s basically the responsibility of any sports-based web site to wrench predictions out of its crack staff for the playoffs.
We here at Flyers Faithful certainly aren’t above it! Below are our staff predictions for the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals between the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils. Leave your own predictions in the comments below!
Marcello, owner: Dustin Penner was dead-on accurate when he jokingly nicknamed Jonathan Quick “Vezina Smythe”. The Kings’ goalie will continue his elite-level play through the Stanley Cup Finals. Scoring on him will be a daunting task for New Jersey, which is to say nothing about the fact that the Devils will first need to get through forwards like Dustin Brown and Mike Richards and defensemen like Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell, and the recently-emerging threat, Slava Voynov.
The Kings/Devils series will be the ultimate battle to see who really won the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes. I said LA won out when Kovy signed in New Jersey and I believe they will once again beat out New Jersey in the Finals. LA in 6.
Bob H, Content Editor: The New Jersey Devils have laid waste to pretty much all prediction and defied most analysis through the first three rounds of this postseason, so why can’t they do it again for the fourth and final round? The 2012 Devils possess the least overall talent of the five clubs in franchise history which have made a Stanley Cup Final, and their head coach could arguably also sit at the bottom of the list. As Harriet Wheeler once sang, here’s where the story ends. Los Angeles can match New Jersey line for line, and can play the turnover/transition game or kick it up a notch. The Kings have also stolen a page from the early chapters of the Devils’ book of success during their Cup runs and are unbeatable on the road. Jonathan Quick is outperforming Martin Brodeur, and that figures to happen again and give the Western Conference winners the most decisive advantage. LA in 6.
Kevin C, Managing Editor: I’ve been underestimating the Devils all playoffs, so I figure I might as well continue. However, in this case it’s more confidence in the Kings than it is a lack of confidence in the Devils. The Kings are just firing on all cylinders and look to be hard to beat at this point. Quick is at the top of his game and Richards and Carter are thriving in a checking role. Kings in 6.
Filip S: Considering the history (history having repeated itself many times) I’m picking the Devils in 6. The last 3 Stanley Cup champions have beaten the Flyers before they won the Cup (2009 Pens, 2010 Hawks, 2011 Bruins) and 2 of the 3 Devils Cups came after defeating the Flyers – 1995, 2000 (2003 was not because Flyers lost to Ottawa, who faced the Devils in the 3rd round). I’m picking the Devils for one more reason: No one can imagine the titles, taunts, and teasings after the Kings win – Richards with Mr. Unclutch would win the Stanley Cup just one year after their Philadelphia departure.
Kimberly Q: The Devils vs. the Kings for the Stanley Cup; I don’t think anyone could have predicted this one. Both teams seem to have hit their stride at the right time. The Devils out of the East boast solid defense, good goaltending and several big scoring threats. They handled the Flyers seemingly easily and then out-endured a tired (well, to me they seemed tired) New York Rangers team in game 6 overtime. I’ve kept a close eye on the Kings throughout the year and it has really been fun to see them click and have things come together in the playoffs. They also have very good defense and arguably the best goaltender in the league behind a mass of offensive firepower with 3 lines of very capable scorers. The Kings have had an answer to their opponent in each round of the playoffs. They haven’t had a series go beyond 5 games, even when they were not at their best against the Coyotes in this past round. As long as their offensive game doesn’t go into hibernation as it did mid-season, the cup is headed to LA. Kings in 5
Jim H: Prediction: I will be wearing a fading Flyers t-shirt and shorts that haven’t been washed since Jeremy Roenick annoyed us from the ice instead of a broadcast booth as I hit the button on the remote that brings me to a Stanley Cup Finals match. I will see the teams involved and my heart will sink as I think about my own beloved team’s exit. I will watch enviously as an ex would when running into an old flame with the new replacement. I will see familiar faces that used to wear orange and black and feel a strange mixture of pride and jealousy. At least once, I will marvel that Brodeur and I are the same age yet there he is and here I am, barely able to bend down and tie my own shoes. I predict a few extra shots of cheap liquor and beer to take the edge off of the spectacle that is yet another Flyersless finals.
And oh yeah, Devils in 7.
Nick D: As is almost always the case in the awesomeness that is the NHL playoffs, the two hottest teams are meeting in the Stanley Cup finals. The New Jersey Devils are set to represent the East, while the Los Angeles Kings will represent the West. They are the only two teams that have played a particular brand of hockey this spring since game 82 and kept their identities intact through just about every game, resulting in their appearances here on center stage competing for the coolest trophy in professional sports.
Both teams are chock full of character, skill, and experience throughout their forward corps. The teams seem to match up fairly evenly on paper with the Kings having just the slightest edge in depth up front and on the blue line. In the nets, it’s a tough call as Jonathan Quick has been dynamic for the Kings all year long, but especially in the playoffs. At the other end of the ice Martin Brodeur is still playing and playing well at age 40.
Both teams bring a vicious, unrelenting forechecking style, with good support in all areas of the ice and top notch goaltending, but I think the edge goes to the Kings in just about every area: Kings in 7.
Kim P: Two Cinderella stories will be meeting in the Stanley Cup Finals this year. You’ve got the captain of the LA Kings, Dustin Brown, whose name was on the trade rumor block just a few short months ago, playing his heart out and really leading his team by example. You’ve got Zach Parise, the captain of the New Jersey Devils, who is constantly surrounded by questions of “Will he stay or will he go once his contract is up?” Parise has played very well throughout these playoffs and, just like Brown, has shown why he is the captain of his team. Both of these guys are exceptional leaders, but who has the better team behind him? Based on the playoffs so far, it’s the Kings. They’ve yet to lose on the road in the playoffs, which doesn’t really give the Devils the advantage of ‘home ice advantage.’ Jonathan Quick has been phenomenal in net, and could give Marty Brodeur a run for his money. Both teams have depth and solid defense, but when it comes down to it, the Kings have the overall advantage. Kings in 6.
Hal G: The Devils may be the most underrated and surprising team in these playoffs. The Devils, who had the 4th best record in East, received little respect. As I cautioned on the podcast, do not underestimate these Devils, the league continued to do so. After beating Florida in 7 games, the Devils easily dispatched the Flyers in 5 and the Rangers in 6. The Devils best asset continues to be their defense and penalty kill.
The Kings were the 8th seed out West, but only missed out on the 3rd seed by one point. Nonetheless, the Kings beat the 1st seeded Canunks in round one, the 2nd seeded Blues in two, the the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Finals. The Kings blend together a strong defense with great goaltending and an offense that was the best in the league following the trade deadline. The Kings weakness: the power play.
So what will happen when the New Jersey Devils meet the Los Angeles Kings? Defense and tight checking will be at a premium. If the Kings get an opportunity to get shots on goal, Martin Brodeur has shown he still has some life left in his 40-year old body. Regardless, as I have been riding the Kings bandwagon since the playoffs began, Simon Gagne will be hoisting the Lord Stanley’s Cup on home ice as the Kings will win in 6
Nina: The outcome of this year’s Stanley Cup match-up will feature something we haven’t seen before; a 6th-8th conference seeded team winning the Cup. This is a match-up of two underdogs that far exceeded expectations. One of them will make history. The Devils stunned everyone by knocking out two teams that were favored to come out of the East. As impressive as the Devils run has been, the Kings have been even better. The Kings eliminated the top 3 seeds in the West from the 8th seed. They are also superior to the Devils in just about every team metric, except for the powerplay. The Devils taught us that they shouldn’t be taken lightly, but it’s hard to envision that the Kings’ historical run will fall short. Kings in 6.
Eden: Guess it’s my turn. It really is a shame that my first playoffs was in 2010. My expectations are so high now. But truly, this Stanley Cup Final holds a lot more of my interest than last season’s.
So, without a lot of explanation or much understanding, I predict Kings in 7. Seven because I don’t think the Devils will just lay down and take it, but the Kings, because, holy crap, they’ve been good.
Frick: First: A couple of guarantees. 1. Carter will win the Stanley Cup. 2. You will be tired of how many times Brodeur’s age is noted during the series (I was thinking of making this a drinking game, but I fear for our livers). Now to the prediction: As to which Carter will win, I am going with Jeff. The Kings win a hard fought series in 6. I think Quick will lock up the Conn Smythe trophy. Also of note is that I am always wrong with these, so I hope I didn’t jinx the Kings.
Dain: The Stanley Cup Finals this year are between a 6th seed and an 8th seed. It could be said that both team underachieved this season and hit their stride as the season ended. The Devils have have peaked the last 2 weeks, beating the Flyers and Rangers, while the Kings have rolled through the playoffs, losing only twice in three rounds and dominating on the road.
The Kings have the better offense and the better goalie in Jonathan Quick. The Devils have been very good, but I don’t see them withstanding the Kings attack and Quick will be able to shut them down like they haven’t been all postseason. LA will show everyone they were the winners of the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes by not signing him and getting Carter, Richards, and Gagne instead. Kings will win in 6 and Quick will win the Conn Smythe.
Craig: I’m sticking with Kings in 6. Although the Devils have had a difficult road to the Finals, I think the Kings have overcome greater odds. They’ve taken down the Presidents Trophy winners, one of the best defensive clubs in the league, and the club with the hottest goalie in the playoffs (unless you consider Quick the hottest). I think the Kings are led by a group of players that are fueled by the fact they need to prove themselves. Jeff Carter and Mike Richards need to prove they weren’t the reason why Philly didn’t win a Cup/drunks/locker room cancers, Dustin Penner needs to prove he isn’t fat and slow, and Quick needs more proof as to why he is the most valuable goalie to his club. Also, I think the Devils received some luck by playing the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals. I’m not saying the Devils don’t deserve to be in the Finals (because they do), I’m just saying the Rangers were most likely worn down by back-to-back seven-game series before the clubs’ meeting in the ECF (just like it seemed that the Flyers were spent after their emotional win over the Penguins in the ECQF).
Steve J: I have certainly underestimated both the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils this offseason. I’ve picked against them time and time again and yet they’ve both shown me that they’re much better than I expected. The Devils have a ferocious forecheck that I didn’t see out of them in the regular season. The Kings have been destroying every opponent in their path, led by the tenacious Dustin Brown. So who wins out when these two underdogs meet? Somehow the eighth seed has become favored. They’ve got the best goaltender in the playoffs. They have two very solid lines, where if you shut down one, the other picks up the slack. I have to pick the Kings in 6. No team has found a solution for them to this point and I can’t see the Devils doing that. I’m also picking the brilliant Jonathan Quick for the Conn Smythe. Dustin Brown is definitely a worthy candidate but Quick has been the backbone of the Kings since the season began.