May 29, 2012, 12:22 PM EDT
With the Devils and Kings set to begin the 2012 Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday at the Prudential Center, PHT will spend today and tomorrow breaking down the positional matchups.
New Jersey Devils
Overview: Peter DeBoer distributes his minutes fairly evenly through the top four, though Zidlicky and newfound scoring sensation Bryce Salvador saw a slight bump in TOI during the Eastern Conference finals. Adam Larsson is back to being a healthy scratch after a one-game cameo against the Rangers — replaced by Harrold — while 33-year-old veteran Henrik Tallinder has been medically cleared (blood clots) to play. Only problem is he hasn’t seen game action since Jan. 19.
X-Factor: Size. The Devils blueline isn’t big with the likes of Zidlicky (5-foot-11, 188 pounds), Greene (5-11, 190) and Harrold (6-0, 190) and much of the Kings’ puck possession game relies on the big bodies of Dustin Penner (6-4, 242), Dwight King (6-3, 234), Anze Kopitar (6-3, 235) and Jordan Nolan (6-3, 227). As such, don’t be surprised if Volchenkov gets a bump in minutes, if only to deal with clearing the front of Martin Brodeur‘s goal.
Los Angeles Kings
Overview: Darryl Sutter puts a lot on the plates of Doughty and Mitchell, the latter emerging as a more all-around defenseman this season (scored a career-high five goals, tied a career-high 23 points). The rest of the blueliners fit specific molds — Scuderi and Greene are shutdown/penalty kill guys, Voynov and Martinez are more offensively-inclined puck movers (that man the power play.)
X-Factor: That pesky man advantage. L.A.’s struggles on the PP are well documented and a big reason for that is a lack of production from the blueline — the Kings have just one power play goal from their defense (Mitchell) and four points overall. Considering Doughty is an absolute magician at walking the blueline and Mitchell is very good at getting point shots on goal, the Kings shouldn’t be this bad on the power play.
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