The NHL Finals live on as the New Jersey Devils avoided a sweep on Wednesday and will now host the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday in an exciting Game 5.
NBC will have the contest at 8:00 p.m. (ET) from the Prudential Center in Newark. The Devils are small 110-115 favorites on the Don Best odds screen and the total is 4½, slightly shaded to the ‘over.’
The old saying goes “it ain’t over till it’s over” and that’s always true in the game of hockey. The goalie can be the great equalizer of talent and momentum always plays a big part in a 7-game series.
Don Best hockey analyst Benjie C. points out the Devils’ big guns of Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique showed up just in time, with the latter two scoring goals in the 3-1 victory. All tallies for both teams came in the third period.
The Devils get full marks after getting the lead (1-0) and then giving it right back following a costly penalty on David Clarkson. Other teams may have folded, but New Jersey got a huge goal from Henrique with under five minutes left, and the whole bench came to life for the first time in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Looking at Game 5, it would be poetic justice for the Kings to win the Cup on the road, given their record-setting 10-0 away mark in the playoffs. However, if they lose on Saturday and are forced to play Game 6 in Los Angeles on Monday, then the pressure will really start to mount.
Benjie C. thinks the Kings have a good shot to close this out in New Jersey, but that the series is far from over. The current series price still heavily favors the Kings, with New Jersey listed at +700 at some wagering outlets.
It will be interesting to see how Los Angeles reacts to the defeat. The team lost two previous Game 4’s in these playoffs at home against Vancouver and Phoenix, only to rebound with overtime Game 5 wins on the road to win each of those series.
This could be a little different with the Stanley Cup on the line and being so close to hoisting it last game. Kovalchuk has been playing injured, but he should be buoyed by that late goal in the third period last game to ice it.
The Kings’ two best players in the Finals have been goalie Jonathan Quick and defenseman Drew Doughty. Both will need big games again if the Kings are to return home as champions for the first time in team history.