NHL Stanley Cup Picks: Devils at Kings Game 4 Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 6/6/2012
I hate to see the NHL season end – although it does drag on forever – but it sure looks like hockey will disappear until this fall after Wednesday night’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the visiting New Jersey Devils and the red-hot Los Angeles Kings.
Los Angeles, which was given an expansion team in 1967, plays Game No. 3,706 (playoffs and regular season) on Wednesday and it likely will be the loudest and most festive crowd in California hockey history as the Kings look for their first Stanley Cup. L.A. and Toronto, which won the Cup in that ’67 season, share the unwanted distinction of having the longest Stanley Cup drought in the NHL.
Devils at Kings Betting Story Lines
New Jersey mostly outplayed Los Angeles in the first two games of this series back in Newark, but that definitely wasn’t the case in L.A.’s 4-0 Game 3 win on Monday as the Kings improved to a stunning 15-2 in these playoffs and took a 3-0 lead for the fourth straight series – it’s the first time any team has done that since the NHL went to all seven-game series. Remember, this was the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed and a team that ranked 29th in the NHL in scoring.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who is your lock Conn Smythe Trophy winner, stopped 22 saves on Monday, and Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams each had a goal and an assist for L.A. Quick has three shutouts in these playoffs and has stopped 70 of 72 shots in this series. The Kings have not allowed more than three goals in any of their 17 playoff games this postseason. That ties the NHL record for most such games.
The Devils just can’t solve Quick with two total goals in this series. That matches the second-fewest goals through the first three games of Stanley Cup finals series in the NHL's modern era (since 1943-44). The power play hasn’t helped the Devils. Los Angeles stopped New Jersey on six power plays Monday, including a five-on-three that lasted 59 seconds in the first period with the game scoreless. The Devils had just three total shots in nearly 10 minutes of power-play time in Game 3. Ilya Kovalchuk led the NHL in playoff points entering this series but has just five shots (he had six alone in the clincher vs. the Rangers in the East finals) and hasn’t found the net. Neither has Zach Parise on 11 shots. Tonight could be his final game as a Devil as Parise will be a highly-sought after free agent.
And while New Jersey set an NHL record in penalty-kill percentage during the season, L.A. has stopped 64 of 69 power plays in the playoffs, an incredible 92.8 percent success rate. New Jersey has allowed 18 goals on 67 opposition power plays (73.1 percent) in the postseason after surrendering just 27 power-play goals in 82 regular-season games.
Not that Los Angeles needed any help, but it got back Simon Gagne in Game 3. The two-time All-Star, in his first season in L.A. played his first game for the Kings since Dec. 26, the day he suffered the latest concussion in his 12-year-career. He had three shots on goal in 6:39 of ice time.
A win on Wednesday night would give Los Angeles a 16-2 record this spring, matching the 1988 Oilers for the fewest games needed to win the Cup in the last 25 years. It would be the first sweep in the Finals since Detroit routed Washington in 1998. L.A. is the 12th team to win the first two games of the Finals on the road, with seven of the other 11 completing the sweep.
Devils at Kings Betting Odds and Key Trends
Los Angeles opened as a -185 favorite for Game 4 with the total at 4.5 goals on NHL odds. With the fact that L.A. has not had home-ice advantage in any series in these playoffs, this will be only its eighth home game so far. The Kings are 5-2 SU and 1-6 on the ‘over/under’. On the road, New Jersey is 6-5 SU and 3-5-3 O/U.
The Devils are 4-0 in their past four after a loss of at least three goals. They are 8-1 in their past nine games on one day of rest. The Kings are 0-7 in their past seven as a favorite of at least -151. The under is 2-0-3 in New Jersey’s five games after scoring two or fewer goals in the previous game. The under is 6-0 in L.A.’s past six games after a win. The under is 7-0-1 in past eight meetings between these teams.
NHL Stanley Cup Picks: Devils at Kings Betting Predictions
If the Devils are looking for some sort of ray of hope, three other teams have rallied from 3-0 deficit in the NHL playoffs: the 1942 Maple Leafs (the only one to rally in the Stanley Cup Finals), 1975 Islanders and 2010 Flyers. But all signs point to the Kings becoming the first No. 8 seed to hoist the Cup. They finish things off Wednesday night and avoid a trip back East. Also take the under. With guys like Quick, Dustin Brown, Kopitar and Drew Doughty all in their prime, this may well be the first of a few Cups for L.A.
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