At the beginning of the 2011-12 NHL regular season, very few could have predicted the matchup that fans are about to witness when the Los Angeles Kings visit the New Jersey Devils for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight. While both teams will look to make history as the lowest seed to ever win the Stanley Cup, picking a winner is proving to be a daunting task because of how well both teams have been playing this postseason. So here’s a quick breakdown of some of the key stats of the series and how well the Kings and Devils match up in many key statistical categories:
This is where it will be fun to watch these teams duke it out. Both teams average slightly less than three goals per game and both teams average just better than 1.5 goals per game during five on five play. In goals against per game, however, the Kings are far superior allowing only 1.57 goals a game, best in the postseason, compared to 2.33 goals allowed per game for the Devils.
The Devils have six players with 10 or more points this postseason, same as the Kings, and each team has three players with five or more goals in the playoffs. In terms of offense, these teams are incredibly evenly matched, placing even more importance on the next category.
Special teams will be an interesting element in this series. On one hand, the Devils have the fourth best power play of any postseason team with an 18.2 conversion rate. However, throughout the playoffs the Kings have continually been one of the best teams on the PK with a success rate of 91.2 percent. But the Kings’ power play has struggled mightily with an 8.1 percent success rate, second worst of any team in the postseason and worst of any team that made it beyond the first round, while the Devils have one of the worst penalty kills at 74.2 percent, good for 13th in the postseason.
The Kings have a great penalty kill, but the Devils will be by far the best power play team they have faced in the playoffs. But the Devils have also allowed two shorthanded goals during the playoffs while the Kings have allowed none. The Devils are dangerous on the power play, but the Kings have a superior penalty kill and if their own power play can click against a weak Devils PK, then LA will win the special teams battle.
Jonathan Quick, the 26-year-old netminder for the Los Angeles Kings, has been unbelievable this postseason and a big reason for the Kings’ success. However, Martin Brodeur has experience on his side and a desire to win another Stanley Cup before retiring either this season or in the future.
Quick leads the league in two of the biggest goalie stat categories with a 1.54 goals against average and a .946 save percentage. Brodeur also has very respectable numbers with a 2.04 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. But Quick has two shutouts to Brodeur’s one.
Eliminating the notion of an epic goalie collapse on either end of the ice, and taking away experience or mental fortitude, Quick seems to have the advantage over Brodeur in all the statistical categories. But both goalies are playing incredible hockey right now and either could be a contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy when the Finals wrap up a week from now. If nothing else, Brodeur and Quick should provide a great goalie duel through the Finals for fans to enjoy.
These playoffs have been full of surprises, illustrated purely by the fact that these two teams are playing in the Stanley Cup Finals, which is what makes choosing a winner for this series so difficult. Both teams are pretty evenly matched in five on five play, but the Devils have a much better power play than the Kings. The Kings also have a much better penalty kill than the Devils, leaving the special teams battle up for grabs. Quick has some of the best goalie stats of the postseason, but Brodeur has been one of the league’s premier goalies for nearly two decades and would love to go out on top. If nothing else, the Stanley Cup Finals should be an incredibly fun and incredibly furious matchup between two of the leagues best. But judging by the stats, it looks like the Los Angeles Kings could have the upper hand, if only slightly.