‘Devils In The Details’
By Sean Hartnett
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Peter DeBoer was searching for a spark and finally found one. Unfortunately for New Jersey, it came too late. As a result, the Devils are mired in an 0-2 hole as the Stanley Cup Final shifts to Los Angeles.
DeBoer juggled New Jersey’s top three lines and got the response he was hoping for during the third period and overtime of Game 2. The Devils gained a stronger territorial advantage and tested Jonathan Quick, but were unable to come away with a much-needed victory.
“It was just a shot in the arm to try to find a goal. We haven’t scored enough, obviously,” DeBoer explained following Game 2.
Jeff Carter’s overtime winner gave the Kings a 2-0 series stranglehold as Los Angeles placed one hand firmly on the Stanley Cup.
A brief spark is one thing, but finding consistency and dictating play is an entirely different story. For most part, the Kings haven’t been on the back-foot and Quick hasn’t been pressured with as many threatening chances as his counterpart Martin Brodeur.
It’s up to the Devils to place a seed of doubt inside the Kings’ psyche by winning Game 3 at the Staples Center. As I glance up-and-down their roster, I don’t believe they’re equipped to bring this series back to New Jersey for Game 5.
The Devils aren’t as loaded offensively as Los Angeles and it’s showing. New Jersey’s powerplay went a brutal 0-for-4 in Game 2. This was following a lackluster 0-for-2 performance on the powerplay in Game 1. Ilya Kovalchuk described the Devils’ powerplay as “embarrassing” when he spoke with Dave Lozo of NHL.com.
Kovalchuk appears to be laboring through this series. Outside of his overtime blast that rang off the crossbar, he’s been very tentative on the puck and has been dishing off to teammates whenever possible.
His back injury is preventing him from playing with the skill and fire we’re accustomed to seeing from Kovalchuk and it’s up to his teammates to step up and take on their share of the load.
Travis Zajac has been a non-factor this series. After scoring some memorable goals against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals, Zajac has been a missing man during the Stanley Cup Final.
The Devils’ first line centerman has been held to two shots through the first two games against Los Angeles and is yet to make a noticeable impact this series.
First-year playoff sensation Adam Henrique has also struggled to make his mark during the finals. Henrique did not register a shot on goal in Game 2.
Captain Zach Parise has had his share of opportunities but is yet to break through Quick’s ‘force field.’ Too much of a burden is being placed upon the Devils’ two main stars, Parise and Kovalchuk to deliver the goods.
On the other hand, Kings’ captain Dustin Brown has hit a rough patch, but his teammates are compensating for his lack of production. Brown is on a six-game playoff goal drought which isn’t standing out because the Kings aren’t overly-reliant upon individuals.
Darryl Sutter is blessed with a deep group of talented skaters, each of whom can be the difference-maker in any particular game. Anze Kopitar, Brown, Drew Doughty, Mike Richards, Justin Williams, Dustin Penner and Game 2 hero Jeff Carter are all capable of delivering important goals.
The Devils have run into a supreme Kings’ team that’s been riding a wave since upsetting the Vancouver Canucks in round one. They simply don’t have the ammunition to keep pace with the Kings.
Can the Devils take the series back to New Jersey or will the Kings continue their momentum and pull off a sweep? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.