The New Jersey Devils have received six power play opportunities to just three for the Los Angeles Kings, but it hasn’t been a difference-maker in the 2012 Stanley Cup finals. Ilya Kovalchuk didn’t beat around the bush when he gave his assessment of the team’s man advantage, either, as Dave Lozo reports that he called it “embarrassing.”
The Devils went 0-for-4 in Game 2 after going 0-for-2 in Game 1. To be fair to New Jersey, the Kings’ man advantage went empty handed in the first duo of contests as well, although they received half the chances.
Yet for Kovalchuk (five power play goals) and the Devils, a wilting PP is a much bigger concern than for LA. While the Kings have been just about as productive offensively on the penalty kill as they’ve been on the power play, the Devils scored three PP goals against the Rangers, four against the Flyers and five against the Panthers.
That might not sound like much, but it’s the third-most in the 2012 playoffs behind Philly (a ridiculous 15) and the Rangers (13). The thing is, New Jersey’s consistently been strong in other areas – aside from some PK hiccups against Florida – so that PP advantage transformed a good team into a dangerous squad.
As strong as John Tortorella’s shot-blocking PK system can be, perhaps the Kings are just a different animal than the Devils are used to. It might just come down to Los Angeles being that good.
Still, the Devils’ PP needs to get more done in a series where goals are incredibly tough to come by. Again, five of Kovalchuk’s seven playoff goals have come on the PP, so he probably feels the deficit the most.
So can Kovalchuk and the Devils turn that – and perhaps the series – around?