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Stanley Cup Betting - Kings Try To Win First Stanley Cup In Duel With Surprising Devils

Posted by Don Melrose on 5/28/2012 4:27:07 PM

The 2012 NHL Playoffs won't get a New York-Los Angeles matchup. They'll get the next closest thing: a New Jersey-Los Angeles showdown as the overachieving Devils take on the Kings.

Stanley Cup Finals: Los Angeles Kings vs. New Jersey Devils – Series Overview
Sports betting line: N/A

Why Los Angeles Will Win

When you place a bet on an NHL playoff series after looking at any of several betting sites, you have to look at which team is playing a higher level of hockey at the moment, and it's clearly the Kings. Los Angeles thrashed the Phoenix Coyotes in five games in the Western Conference Finals, but they've also been really consistent through their first three playoff series. Los Angeles didn't escape one of its early rounds; the Kings are 12-2 in the playoffs and have taken a 3-0 lead in all three of their playoff series to this point in time. Los Angeles is 8-0 on the road in this postseason, something that's never been done before in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Coach Darryl Sutter is squeezing the most out of his team, which is clicking on all four lines and is getting top-shelf play from goaltender Jonathan Quick, who is probably the favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy (NHL playoff MVP) at the outset of this series. The Kings are not the same team they were in the regular season. They have undergone the kind of transformation that typically happens with a Stanley Cup favorite. They dismissed the top three seeds in their conference, beating teams that accumulated over 310 points in the NHL regular season (Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix). It would be very hard to pick against the Kings at this point, especially since opening the series on the road in New Jersey really isn't a disadvantage for them. They love being on the road.

Why New Jersey Will Win

When you place a bet on an NHL playoff series, even in the final round, you will find it hard to deny the attractiveness of a team that had once lost its swagger, only to regain it and become that much more emboldened.

The New Jersey Devils once were an elite organization. From 1995 through 2003, the Devils won three Stanley Cup championships while making a fourth appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals and losing in seven games to the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. Goalie Martin Brodeur was at the top of his game, leading a previously hapless franchise to the mountaintop. However, since the 2003 championship, the Devils had not gone past the second round of the playoffs. Brodeur lost his magic as he approached his 40th birthday, and it seemed the Devils had just about run out of steam. New Jersey struggled in the first round but won overtime thrillers in Game 6 and Game 7 to escape from that series. Nevertheless, the Devils figured to get crushed by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round.

Instead, they did the crushing. New Jersey won in five games and then proved it had some staying power by taking down the top-seeded New York Rangers in six games. The Devils now look like a completely different team. These transformations happen all the time in the NHL. Momentum is on the Devils' side, with Brodeur turning back the years. Moreover, Brodeur's presence in a fifth Stanley Cup Final will give his younger teammates the ability to play this series with a proper mindset. 
Read more on the latest sportsbook odds in the NHL playoffs.

Who Will Win?

While New Jersey is for real, this is Los Angeles' series to lose. The Kings are in a zone right now. Everything they touch turns to hockey gold. More specifically, the Kings have too much size in the middle of the ice. They are bigger than the Devils at most positions and will dominate battles in front of the net. Brodeur, New Jersey's goalie, does not handle traffic in front of the net with appreciable distinction – that's his main weakness. Los Angeles will exploit that weakness and win its first Stanley Cup championship.

NHL Betting Pick: Los Angeles in 6 games

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