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Hockey This Week

Scepters and Sulfur: The Kings and Devils Top Players. By @PuckSage

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

In the looking at who does it best for both teams, you’re looking at slightly different things. The Kings have better overall balance, but the Devils have an absolutely arresting mix of all world talent, Stanley Cup experience, veteran savvy and guys playing well above their pay grade. Don’t expect a short series.

For the Los Angeles Kings:
Top two forwards are:
• Dustin Brown who’s epic What Can’t Brown Do For You tour hasn’t stopped since that fateful day he was rumored to be available on the trade market. Since then, Brown has probably been the best and most effective player in the entire National Hockey League.

• Mike Richards: tied for the team lead in powerplay goals, tied for the team in 1st goals, leads the teams forwards in blocked shots, lots of hits. If he weren’t playing with Brown people would be making a whole lot of noise about his play this post season.

Most effective defender:
• Drew Doughty certainly hasn’t done it alone, but oh man has he done it. Loads of minutes, smart play in all three zones. Watching Doughty round out the defensive end of his game over the last 90 days has been the best coming of age story I’ve seen in hockey this year.

The sneaky good:
• Despite his more than 700 NHL games played, most people have no idea how good Willie Mitchell is. Before this post season it’s doubtful he’d be among the first three defensemen you named for the Kings, now there’s no doubt about it.

• Dwight King is third on the team in goals scored this post season. The burly rookie winger has notched his five goals in 14 games playing less than 13 minutes a night, and stacking some of that time on the penalty kill.

Pivotal player:
• Jonathan Quick would be the easy answer, but if Jeff Carter can catch fire and contribute to three games in this series the Devils have a good chance of going home with a cup of disappointment.

The New Jersey Devils
Top two forwards:
• “Kovy Clutch” is about the best way to describe the most talented skater in the Stanley Cup finals. Ilya Kovalchuk has done it all this post season. Before this year he’d never been on a team that won even a single playoff round. Now he’s defeated three teams. He leads the league in scoring, and is a career point per game player against the Kings.

• Travis Zajac has been in beast mode for the Devils. Having played in just 15 regular season games thanks to an injury it seems he’s making up for lost time. He’s had a stellar 56% faceoff efficiency, seven goals, and over two minutes a night of short handed time.

Most effective defender:
• Bryce Salvador picked a good time to play some of the best hockey of his life. Lots of hits and blocked shots. Smartly played minutes on the penalty kill, and yes a high point total two make him arguably the lone standout on this no name defense.

The sneaky good:
• Adam Henrique has put kept up the routine that should see him picking up the Calder in Vegas. He hasn’t logged the minutes he did before Zajac returned, but he’s still playing effective hockey. He has all the tools to draw comparisons to some of the NHL’s top two way centers, and he’s willing to use them.

• Martin Brodeur while he’s not putting up the absurd sv% his opposite number has, Brodeur is a better puckhandler than many skaters and has picked up four assist this post season. Further, Brodeur isn’t going to make the mistakes handling the puck other goalies have or would.

Pivotal player:
• Patrik Elias has another gear, its time for him to pop the clutch and slide into it. Just six points in 18 games is well beneath his capabilities.

Hockey This Week

@PuckSage is hockey writer without a dog in the biggest fight of the year. He’s planning on enjoying the hell out of the Stanley Cup finals anyway. You should expect to see updates from him all summer long.

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