Forechecking Kings present big, tough challenge for unheralded Devils defense


Today at media day in Newark, Kings captain Dustin Brown was asked what his team needs to do to beat the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup finals.

The answer he provided was no real surprise.

“Our forecheck is probably the key to our game,” said Brown. “To follow that up is getting through the neutral zone successfully against them is probably a key.  If we can get through there, we can get on the forecheck.

“Again, our forecheck has probably been the reason we’ve been so successful.”

New Jersey forward Patrik Elias knows what the Kings are about.

“You look at their forecheck,” he said. “They’re very aggressive on the forecheck. They got some big bodies, big guys that play strong, physical hockey.”

For the Devils, it means the toughest test of the playoffs for an unheralded back end that relies on Bryce Salvador, Marek Zidlicky, Andy Greene and Mark Fayne to play the big minutes.

So far they’ve held up – actually, more than held up – but if the Kings are able to consistently dump it in to places Martin Brodeur can’t get to, throw the body around, take control of the puck, and start the cycle, New Jersey’s defense could really start to wear down.

Of course, the Devils can forecheck pretty well themselves, and they’ll need to be effective against Los Angeles. After all, the more time New Jersey can spend in the attacking zone, the more time its defensemen aren’t absorbing punishment in their own end.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?