Strong starts go a long way with Devils, Kings

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Scoring first is always important, but it might matter even more in the 2012 Stanley Cup finals. New Jersey and the Los Angeles Kings are a combined 16-3 in the playoffs when scoring first.

Of course, you’d be hard pressed to find a scenario that the Kings haven’t excelled in during their postseason run, but the Devils are just 4-5 in the playoffs after surrendering the first goal.

It goes beyond that though. Both of these teams have been exceptionally good at protecting a lead in the playoffs. The Devils and Kings have only lost a combined three games when leading after 20 minutes. They also have a perfect record in games where they’ve led after 40 minutes.

After a weak start in Game 1 on Wednesday – and really just a subpar showing overall – the New Jersey Devils are expected to put some extra emphasis on starting out strong on Saturday. Of course, the Los Angeles Kings will attempt to do the same.

“We’ve been focusing on starts, and our starts have been pretty good, getting the first goal,” Anze Kopitar said. “It’s easier when you’re not playing catch-up hockey, and obviously everybody knows that. It’s easier with the lead.”