Few hockey pundits would have predicted a Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils. Yet, those two teams will meet for the 2012 Stanley Cup when their best-of-seven series begins on Wednesday in Newark, NJ. Here’s a preview of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.

New Jersey Devils vs. Los Angeles Kings

Game 1: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ; Wed. May 30, 8 p.m. (EDT); NBC-TV

Coming off consecutive upsets of the Panthers, Flyers and Rangers, the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils have used offensive depth and solid goaltending from veteran netminder Martin Brodeur to advance. The Eastern Conference champions were led by Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, who have combined for 14 goals and 32 points. Meanwhile, center Travis Zajac has been a force with seven goals in the playoffs. Devils’ head coach Pete DeBoer must get his team to keep pressure on the Kings’ defense and kill off any penalties more effectively than they have thus far.

Starting out as the eighth and final seed of the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Kings have raced through the NHL playoffs with a 12-2 record. Upsets over the Canucks, Blues and Coyotes have given Darryl Sutter’s team confidence that it can win the Stanley Cup. Arguably the NHL’s best goalie, Kings’ netminder Jonathan Quick has an incredible 1.54 goal-against-average and a .946 save percentage in the playoffs, both league-bests. Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll and Jeff Carter all can score for Los Angeles, which makes them a nightmare to defend against. The Kings have the second-worst power play in the playoffs. Los Angeles must take better advantage of Devils’ penalties and beat Brodeur early to keep him from getting in a rhythm. Having last played on May 22, the Kings will be well-rested when the series starts.

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