Ask the Coach: What do the LA Kings need to do to get past the Devils?

(Dinur/Flickr)

Ask the Coach, with Coincidental Minors’ contributing writer Danny Amodeo. (@DannyP29)

This week’s question comes from a fellow Twitter user: “What do the Kings need to do/continue doing to get past the Devils in the Cup Finals?”

So far in these playoffs the Kings have played almost perfect hockey. They have been dominate on the road, winning all eight of their road games, they have had scoring depth, played strong defensively and have had solid goaltending. As they move onto the Cup Finals, which begin Wednesday night in New Jersey, there are six keys to the Kings being able to win the Stanley Cup.

1.    Continue to dominate on the road
– The Kings have been completely dominated on the road. Along with going 8-0 on the road, they have played with a confidence that they have not always played at home in these playoffs. The Kings will need to at least split the first part of the series in New Jersey if they want to have a shot at winning the Cup.

2.    The Kings powerplay needs to step up, and the penalty kill needs to remain the same
– So far in these playoffs, the Kings have had a horrible powerplay, clicking at 8.1 per cent. Despite having top guns like Kopitar, Brown, Carter, Richards and Doughty on their powerplay,  the Kings have had a hard time even setting up in the offensive zone. The Kings need to simply convert on the powerplay or they will be giving New Jersey too many chances to remain in games.
– The Kings penalty Kill however has been simply amazing in these playoffs. Along with killing 91.2 per cent of all penalty kills, they have also scored five short handed goals in these playoffs, with Captain Dustin Brown leading the way with two shorthanded goals and three shorthanded assists in these playoffs. Although the Kings have not been shorthanded a lot in the playoffs, they need to continue to hold teams off while shorthanded.

3.     Keep up the physical play
– Not only have the Kings been hitting everything that moves in all three zones of the ice, but they have successfully used checking on the forecheck throughout the playoffs. With the Kings wingers establishing a physical presence down low in the offensive zone, they have been able to open up space that has allowed the Kings to score a lot of goals from the slot in these playoffs. Also, the Kings defense has been extremely physical, especially in the Western Finals against the Coyotes, which has allowed the Kings to be first on the puck in the defensive zone.

4.    Jonathan Quick needs to take the torch from Martin Brodeur
– One of the most interesting matchups in the cup finals is the battle in goal between the Kings Jonathan Quick and the Devils Martin Brodeur. Brodeur, who is back in the Cup finals for the first time since 2003, now at 40 years old is still considered one of, if not the best goaltender to have ever played the game. Quick has been a rising star in the NHL, especially with his Venzia nominated regular season this year, and his Conn Smythe worthy play in these playoffs. If the Kings want to win the cup for the first time in their franchise history, Quick needs to outplay Brodeur in goal, and take the torch from Brodeur so to speak.

5.    Dustin Brown needs to continue his Conn Smythe worthy play
– Kings’ captain Dustin Brown has been amazing in these playoffs. Not only is he leading the Kings in scoring with seven goals and nine assists for 16 points, but he has done it all. He has gotten under the other teams skin, which has lead to opponents taking unnecessary penalties. He had played physical all throughout the playoffs, which highlight hits such as the one he laid on Henrik Sedin in the first road, and Michal Rozsival in the Western Finals. He has been a force backchecking, as he has been stealing the puck from opponents as they attempt to attack the Kings defense.  He is a league best plus 13 in the playoffs as well. He has been the best player in the entire playoffs, and needs to maintain his high level of play in order for the Kings to have a chance at winning the cup. He has lead by example, and is one of the main reasons why the Kings find themselves in the cup finals.

6.    Control Iyla Kovalchuck
– The Kings need to control and minimize the impact that Iyla Kovalchuck has on the series. Kovalchuck has played well in these playoffs, scoring seven goals and adding 11 assists to league the NHL playoff scoring race with 18 points. He is also a large reason why the Devils have been able to make it to the Cup finals. The Kings 2nd line seems to draw the defensive responsibility for Kings coach Daryl Sutter. On defensive, Sutter usually uses Willie Mitchell and Slava Voynov has been used to shut down opponent’s top guns. This will be no different in the finals, as Sutter will use these groups in order to shut down Kovalchuck. Although Kovalchuck has also had a few off games throughout the playoffs, he has the ability to impact any game that he plays in due to his amazing skill set, which features a deadly accurate wrist shot.

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