With the Devils and Kings set to begin the 2012 Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday at the Prudential Center, PHT will spend today and tomorrow breaking down the positional matchups.
New Jersey Devils
Zach Parise — Travis Zajac — Dainius Zubrus
Patrik Elias — Adam Henrique — Ilya Kovalchuk
Alexei Ponikarovsky — Jacob Josefson — David Clarkson
Ryan Carter — Stephen Gionta — Steve Bernier
Overview: The Devils owe much of their postseason success to balanced scoring, as eleven different forwards have at least six points (12 different forwards have scored at least one goal.)
The fourth line of Carter-Bernier-Gionta was massive against the Rangers, combining for seven points in the final two games of the series.
New Jersey’s obvious big guns are Kovalchuk and Parise, but they’re not the only ones providing clutch scoring. Henrique has 11 points in the playoffs, breaking Scott Gomez’s club rookie playoff scoring record, which included two series-clinching overtime goals.
Not to be outdone, all three of Clarkson’s goals have been of the game-winning variety as well.
X-Factor: The forecheck. Much has been made of its effectiveness through the first three rounds, and it’ll have to be as good — if not better — against the Kings.
Los Angeles Kings
Dustin Brown — Anze Kopitar — Justin Williams
Dustin Penner — Mike Richards — Jeff Carter
Dwight King — Jarret Stoll — Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson — Colin Fraser — Jordan Nolan
Overview: The Kings are a big, big team up front as four guys (Kopitar, King, Penner and Nolan) are over 6-foot-3, 225 pounds. They use their size effectively by keeping puck possession and driving to the net.
Brown’s become a consistent scoring threat (points in 10 of 14 games) and Carter (another biggie at 6-4, 200) is heating up — he had five points in the final four games against Phoenix, more than he scored through the opening two rounds.
The Kings have also scored five shorthanded goals this postseason, the most since the Detroit Red Wings scored six in the 2008 playoffs.
X-Factor: Strength down the middle. Head coach Darryl Sutter has said in the past he think his centers — Kopitar, Richards, Stoll and Fraser — are the strongest part of his team.