Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils meet at Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey for Game 1 (8:00 PM ET, May 30, 2012) of the seven game series. New Jersey winning both games played in October against the Kings. On Oct. 13, the Devils beat the Kings 2-1 in a shootout at Prudential Center and then won 3-0 at Staples Center on Oct. 25. The betting odds have the Devils (1), while the Kings (10/11) for this game.
Martin Brodeur injured himself in the first period of the game at Prudential Center and was out of the lineup until Nov. 2, while Johan Hedberg, Devils backup goalie got the win in both games. Since beating the Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference last Friday, the Devils have been off for four days. The Kings have been off for seven days since beat the Coyotes in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The Devils and Kings are very alike in their approaches. Both want to launch the forecheck, generate pressure and have it lead to offense.
Los Angeles is making only its second appearance in a Cup final, having lost in 1993 to Montreal. They are heavily courted Kovalchuk in free agency. They have had a good run until now. The Kings hope their road success continues in New Jersey. From the start of the playoffs, they have won an NHL-record eight straight road games. The long layoff is not anything new to this team. The Kings have been practicing at their facility in El Segundo, Calif despite not playing for a while.
While a balanced group of six defensemen, and the incredible play of Jonathan Quick in net, it was a rookie who led them in goals against the Coyotes, the Kings have mostly been led by a strong group of top-six forwards.
With the time off, both the teams have gotten healthier. Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder is cleared to play. He has not played since Jan. 17 due to a blood clot. He is not expected to play in Game 1. Similarly, Kings forward Simon Gagne is cleared and he could play in this series. He has not played since Dec. 26 due to a concussion. He is not expected to play in Game 1.
Vancouver Canucks will meet up Dallas Stars in the third of the four game series. Dallas leads the series with two wins. They would like to seal the series. This match will be held at American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas (8:30 PM ET, March 22, 2012). On March 30, these two teams meet again in Vancouver. On Feb. 26, the Stars have won a 3-2 overtime win in the Canucks’ first visit to the American Airlines Center.
The Canucks are stumbling toward the finish line and they have all but clinched the Northwest Division. In a four-way scramble for the top spot in the Pacific Division, the Stars have no such assurances for them, to try to hold on to first place. The scramble could see the three non-winners all miss the playoffs.
Canucks continues to struggle to put the puck in the net. In Wednesday’s game in Chicago, Jannik Hansen scored in 27 seconds, but, despite a 35-save performance by Roberto Luongo, the Canucks could not score again and wound up losing 2-1 in overtime. Daniel Sedin’s injury was the biggest loss, after he took a high elbow from Duncan Keith. It does not appear he will be in the lineup against Dallas, although he will be re-evaluated today.
After the match, Coach Alain Vigneault said that the battle and the level of competition was very strong. He added that the tam did lose a little bit of composure after the hit in the second. He was happy with the way the team played in the third but was disappointed for not able to finish some quality chances.
Vancouver goaltender Cory Schneider seems to be in good form. All eyes will be set on him. He has allowed just eight goals in his last five games. Dallas’ Loui Eriksson, in his last three games has scored three goals and six points.
Dallas defenseman Marc Fistric will not play because of a strained abdominal muscle. Vancouver may not play and forward Andrew Ebbett might be out. Defenseman Keith Ballard is also out with a concussion.
NFL betting lines have received a ton of action these last few weeks. The Vancouver Canucks are 4/5 and Dallas Stars 20/19.