Monday, June 4, 2012

Mindset of Kings and Devils after Game 2

Two overtime victories for the Los Angeles Kings has them two games away from hoisting the Stanley Cup. The team of destiny continues to find a way to win close games. The inevitably of the Kings winning the Cup as the #8 seed from the West seems clearer than ever. It was no more evident than when Kovalchuk hit the crossbar late in the third period of Game 2. The Kings cannot lose even when their captain hand delivers the puck to the Devils best sniper ten feet from the net.

With a 2-0 lead in the series LA must not change their game. There are two pitfalls in the Kings' leading position.

1. They become complacent because they know they are going to win the Cup or,
2. They play not to lose the Cup because its within their grasp.

LA must continue to play their game aggressive forechecking game shift-by-shift. In Game 2 the Devils actually played a better game but were unable to beat Jonathan Quick. LA knows allowing the Devils to control the game with their forecheck is not a winning formula. The Kings also know that they need to control Game 3 better than Game 2. This series is far from over and the Kings must play with the focus and urgency they have shown throughout the playoffs.

The Kings' defense and forwards deserve credit. They are playing composed hockey in their own zone. The Devils have been unable to force as many turnovers against the Kings who are moving the puck confidently. The Kings will need to keep their composure as the feel the Cup getting closer.

For the Devils there also one of two paths to take after playing a good Game 2 and still losing in overtime. They can either:

1. Accept the inevitable - the Kings are a team of destiny, or,
2. Realize they did many good things Saturday night, take the good, and put the rest behind them.

I expect the Devils to choose the second path. They have been resilient throughout these playoffs. I think Brodeur will steal at least one game in this series. However, the Devils' shooters must beat Quick. It seems Quick may be in the heads of the Devils. Instead of firing the puck on net in prime scoring positions, the Devils shooters were trying to set up backdoor plays and make fine passes. Both goals that got past Quick in this series were deflections. New Jersey needs to send players at the net, screen, deflect pucks, dig for rebounds, and create havoc in front of Quick. This is easier said than done, however, because the Kings have been excellent at keeping the Devils out of good scoring positions, blocking lots of shots, and Quick is not giving up rebounds.

Ultimately for the Devils perseverance will be the key. They must not panic. They have to keep pushing forward knowing that it will pay off in goals. I expect a serious effort by the Devils to take control of Game 3 early. The Kings will be ready. They have been excellent in first periods all playoffs long. It will be an intriguing Game 3. Either we will have a series or the Kings will be one win from the Cup. Winning Game 3 is all about the right mindset. I think both teams will bring an appropriate mindset which should make this a great game to watch.

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