NEWARK, NJ - MAY 30: Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings makes a save against Adam Henrique #14 of the New Jersey Devils during Game One of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Center on May 30, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
With Game 2 coming up tonight, the Devils must reclaim their home ice in a full 60-minute effort, while the Kings simply need to remain vigilant as they attempt to steal another road win before returning to the West Coast.
It's not impossible for a team to start the series 0-2 and come back to win it all -- Boston, in fact, did just that last year -- but the Bruins had the advantage of being able to play Games 3 and 4 of their series on home ice, which is a luxury the Devils will not receive.
Instead, the challenge is for the Devils to put themselves into top gear as quickly as possible, unlike the slow ramp up of Game 1. Rather than wait for the third period to put serious challenge to Jonathan Quick, they must test the Kings' netminder as early as possible and start imposing their physical will on the game. It's their barn, and it's time to play like it.
Another area where Jersey needs to improve is the faceoff dot -- the Kings won 11 of their 18 offensive zone faceoffs, while the Devils eked out just five wins in 13 of their own offensive draws. Jarret Stoll, in particular, deserves a cookie -- the veteran center went nine of 10 at the dot, losing only one neutral zone draw to Travis Zajac.
Meanwhile, the best faceoff man for New Jersey was Jacob Josefson, who managed a respectable eight wins out of thirteen draws while veterans like Zajac and Dainius Zubrus won just eight of 22 combined draws. Getting control of the puck, particularly in the offensive and neutral zones, may become one of their greatest challenges if the Kings can continue to dominate in those areas.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, has a far easier road ahead of them. Under Darryl Sutter, the Kings have to maintain their stifling defense and look for opportunities to challenge Martin Brodeur, particularly if they can put him into one-on-one situations or pressure the veteran goaltender low and to the sides of his net, where he has been shown to be vulnerable this postseason.
Continuing their dominance in the faceoff circle and forcing giveaways should help set the stage for their preferred style of offense, but it would be helpful if L.A.'s struggling power play might make an appearance. At just eight percent, it is not the worst this postseason (that honor goes to Chicago's meager five-percent effort), but they are the only team with a PP below 12% who advanced beyond the first round.
On the other side of the ice, the Kings' defense and forecheck should be mindful of the Devils' big scorers, but also keep a careful eye on surprise contributors like Adam Henrique, Ryan Carter, and David Clarkson. This is precisely the sort of game where the grinders and muckers tend to make a surprise impact -- something that the home crowd in Newark would likely love.
With their incredible road record this postseason, it would not be shocking to see the Kings claim another victory, but they cannot relax. Too much is still in flux, and the Devils are far too experienced a team to be dismissed after only one loss in this series.