May 29, 2012, 5:21 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
Martin Brodeur: 12-5, 2.04 GAA, .923 save percentage, one shutout, four assists.
Johan Hedberg: 0-1, 1.67 GAA, .929 save percentage.
Overview: Brodeur’s gotten stronger as the playoffs progressed, pretty impressive given he turned 40 in May. After a so-so start to the opening series against Florida — he was yanked 22 minutes into Game 3 after allowing three goals on 12 shots — he’s been a model of consistency, not allowing more than three goals in regulation.
If Brodeur stumbles, the Devils won’t have much issue going to Hedberg. While he’s only played 36 minutes this postseason, the 39-year-old veteran appeared in 27 regular season contests going 17-7-2 with four shutouts. They’re comfortable with him in goal (he actually shut out the Kings back in October.)
X-Factor: Elimination games. Brodeur’s been great when given the chance to close out a series…
Game 7 vs. Florida — stopped 43 of 45 shots (2OT)
Game 5 vs. Philadelphia — stopped 27 of 28
Game 6 vs. New York — stopped 33 of 35 (OT)
Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick: 12-2, 1.54 GAA, .946 save percentage, two shutouts.
Jonathan Bernier: No appearances
Aside from an early gaffe in the Phoenix series, Quick has been flawless and is the odds-on favorite to win the Conn Smythe. Only twice has he allowed more than two goals in a game; statistically speaking, his “worst” game of the postseason came in a 4-2 win over St. Louis where his save percentage was “only” .900.
The thought of playing another goalie is almost unfathomable because the Kings hardly give up any goals. But, if Quick should falter, Bernier’s as talented a backup as you’ll find — the only question will be rust, as he hasn’t played since Mar. 31.
X-Factor: Pressure. Quick’s going to hear — and try to deflect — endless comparisons/questions about him (26 year old, first Cup finals) and Brodeur (40, three Stanley Cups). He’s also set to play on the biggest stage of his career.
That said, Quick’s pretty good at handling pressure. LA played an inordinate amount of one-goal games and often relied on him to steal points as the offense sputtered, and he responded with a Vezina-worthy campaign.
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