2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoff predictions: Stanley Cup finals
Ok, let's see a show of hands as to who saw this Stanley Cup final between the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings?
I thought so.
This Cup final is certainly out of the blue. But then again, you have two very hot teams playing for the Cup. And it should be an exciting series.
First, a bit of housecleaning. I did pick the Devils and Kings to win their conference finals series, and I hit the Devils' prediction of winning in six games on the nose. I improved my record to 9-5.
Of course, in the previous four years of my predictions, I have failed to correctly pick the Cup final winner. Whatever team I pick may be cursed.
The Devils, the sixth seed in the East, are a completely different team that won Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003. They aren't trap-happy; rather, they are very offensive. Zach Parise, Iyla Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac are talented.
Of course, the Devils still have 40-year-old Martin Brodeur in goal. At times, he's looked like the Brodeur of old. But there are times when he has had mental lapses.
Meanwhile, the Kings, the eighth seed from the West, have rolled through the postseason with a 12-2 record, including 8-0 on the road. Goalie Jonathan Quick has been the main reason. And there are three ex-Flyers on the team, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne. Gagne has been out most of the year because of a concussion.
The Kings have the 21st century version of Claude Lemieux in their captain, Dustin Brown. He will do anything to win a game, even if it's borderline illegal.
So, this is going to be a very exciting series. The Devils must find a way to half the Kings' momentum. I think they will.
The pick: Devils in 7.