“You can sleep when you’re dead”. That’s the response I received from another King’s fan when I complained how tired I was from the tossing and turning and general non sleep issues during this playoff run. And he is right. This is an extremely exciting time in Kings hockey for not just the players but the fans as well. You know who you are. Fans young and old, die-hards and casuals, long time sufferers and newly minted bandwagoners. Congratulations to you all! Many new fans started because of the 1993 Stanley Cup Final and stayed for the ride. For our newbies, welcome to the best sport in the world; you are now locked in for life.
I have no idea how this first game is going to play out. Will we come out hard and fast or will the Devils? Will the long rest go for or against us? How about the plane ride across the country? So far road games have gone our way but will that continue? I think that is what all the tossing and turning is about. The Devils are an East coast team and lets face it, we really don’t know a lot about them. We certainly know more than they do about us, but that’s because we watch their games early and they miss ours due to the late time. LA advantage. Let’s look at what the Kings need to do win this game. Don’t look back and don’t look forward. Just this game. Just today:
- Great Goaltending – We all know we will need Quick to help us out and do his job. Both the Kings and the Devils have great goal scorers so it will be up to the goalies to keep the scoring low. The Devils have Brodeur and he has the experience with 3 previous cup wins. Quick will need to be his usual aloof self so none of the pomp and circumstance around Brodeur permeates him.
- Power Play – We don’t really have one. So far that has been ok since we have over powered our opponents and didn’t need to rely on the pp. But the Devils are powerful too so finding a way to score with the advantage I think will be the most important piece to winning this game. The Devils will want to score on their power play as well and the Kings have a great Penalty Kill this season. They need to shut them down and keep a cool head.
- Forecheck – Continue to do what we have been doing all playoffs. Get the puck through the neutral zone by pure strength if needed and in our opponents zone. This will so crucial tonight because we are playing against a team who has an aggressive forecheck too. The Devils have been playing just like us and we have to win this war to get the puck on net.
- Start Hard and Strong – Kings want to continue to come out strong in the first period. The Devils have done the same. Hopefully the rest will serve the Kings well when they step on the ice an unleash all that energy. Let’s see if we can rile up the Devils. It has worked for us so far and hopefully we can worm our way under their skins and have them take unnecessary penalties. Then get a shorty. Now that’s dreaming!
- Defense – We have it. We will need it against the Devils surprising 4th line. This line has produced like never before. We need to find a way to stop them and our defense will have to be a wall.
The odds are in the Devil’s favor and most pundits have them to win the Cup. But they don’t know about the individual players and their motivations. Sure everyone wants to win but do they have Willie Mitchell, 35, who most likely has only a few years left to play? Do they have Richards and Carter who were thrown away after a cup run only to be together again and get this second chance? What about a young defensemen whose star has risen so fast he wants to show what he is worth? Or an incredible goalie just starting to see what he can achieve?
So let’s wait and see how we do tonight. Take your pepto to settle your stomach and have a few beers to lower your heart rate because this game is going to be nerve-wracking. Remember, you can always sleep tomorrow.
Line ups are the same as before and the Devils are staying with their lines as well.
# 23 Brown– # 11 Kopitar – # 14 Williams
# 25 Penner– # 10 Richards – # 77 Jeff Carter
# 74 King – # 28 Stoll – # 22 Lewis
# 15 Richardson - # 24 Fraser– # 71 Nolan
# 7 Scuderi – # 8 Doughty
# 33 Mitchell – # 26 Voynov
# 27 Martinez –# 2 Greene
# 32 Quick #
#9 Zach Parise – #19 Travis Zajac – #8 Dainius Zubrus
#12 Alexei Ponikarovsky – #14 Adam Henrique – #17 Ilya Kovalchuk
#26 Patrik Elias – #16 Jacob Josefson – #23 David Clarkson
#20 Ryan Carter – #11 Stephen Gionta – #18 Steve Bernier
#6 Andy Greene – #29 Mark Fayne
#24 Bryce Salvador – #2 Marek Zidlicky
#28 Anton Volchenkov – #10 Peter Harrold
#30 Martin Brodeur
#1 Johan Hedberg
Go Kings Go!