Stanley Cup Final Perspectives
New York Islanders assistant coach and senior advisor Doug Weight is assisting the NHL Network in its coverage of the Stanley Cup Final as an analyst. Weight, who won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, is also writing a blog for NHL.com every other day during the Final. Weight will focus on what it is like being a player on hockey's biggest stage.
In his latest entry, Weight writes about what the Devils need to focus on heading into L.A. down two games.
New Jersey is going to say the Stanley Cup Final shifting to L.A. is a good change of scenery.
Yes the Kings have a vibe going on the road that continued in Newark. It's almost a crazy, freakish thing that they're doing right now. But the Devils can now get out of their place and circle Game 3 and realize all they have to do is just go win a hockey game against a team that, while it is playing well, is still filled with humans that aren't unbeatable.
They're down two games, but it's not four yet. There is no parade tomorrow. Ideally you don't want to lose your two home games, but go win a game, that's it. One great effort can broaden your chest, slowly move momentum to you and also put some pressure on the Kings.
Remember, the Kings haven't had much pressure yet. They have dominated every single series. They have managed to come home and continue that with at least a split. They have always been in control. But they're not a machine.
If the Kings lose Game 3 they are still in control and still at home, but all of a sudden driving to the rink for Game 4 and you're thinking, "Man, if we lose we could lose our home ice and then it's a best-of-three going back to Jersey." That's the great thing about sports. It can change that quickly.
Think about it --- you're playing your buddy in golf, you're six shots ahead, but all of a sudden you hit a bad one and he hits a good one and there is a little pressure on you.
I can see the pressure shifting quickly if the Devils win Game 3.
It's a huge game. People are thinking it's going to be a sweep, but I was up 2-0 and 3-1 in the Final in 2006 with Carolina, and boy it's not fun driving to the rink for that Game 7 when you didn't see it coming a week ago. It's something that was a scary thing, a scary feeling, and it happens quickly.
Now, for the Devils to win Game 3, it might take a power-play goal. They haven't gotten one yet in this series on six chances. Neither have the Kings, but they have won both games anyway. They can put a lot of that on their penalty kill, which has been excellent.
There are a million ways to penalty kill, but you have to play to your strengths. Obviously the Kings are very aggressive. They trust their goaltender, that if they do get caught running once in a while he is going to make the save on the guy right in front of him on a backdoor. But they also trust that they will benefit from clearing a lot of pucks.
What they do is they work as a unit of four. It looks erratic, but they are all feeding off the guy in front of them. When the forward forces a guy down, the puck goes low, boom, the defenseman is jumping and the netfront defenseman is already jumping on that second pass while the other netfront forward is sinking as a safety valve. They just know where to leave a guy open all over the ice.
It's up to New Jersey as a power play to realize they're always going to have guys open. The weakside of the ice will be open, but just as New Jersey's forecheck, which we went over in the last blog, it's all about how they work together, five guys working their tails off. They need to have that same mentality on the power play.
The Devils have to have five guys supporting the pucks. Remember you have an extra guy and if you keep chipping the puck, chipping the puck, chipping the puck, eventually Los Angeles not only runs out of guys, but it is going to get tired. After you're the chipper you have to take hard strides to get to that blue line and support the puck on the other side.
It sounds monotonous, but if the Devils can work for 12 or 15 seconds they are going to get chances to get the Kings tired and get some good shots.
There is hard work that you have to do on that PP. When you're a gifted player, a power-play player, and you're not having success because you're not moving your feet and not working on the power play, I don't care if you're Pavel Bure, everything starts to seem insurmountable. That is what L.A. is doing to the Devils' power play right now.
They are taking away time and space. New Jersey has to outwork the penalty kill. That's it. Simple.
The Devils could change the whole tenor of the series with a power-play goal. And that's what I mean by it's not a machine that they are playing. They are playing humans that have their own demons. If all of a sudden the Devils win Game 3 with a 2-for-4 power play game, wow, coming into Game 4 they're the team that will be feeling good.
Certainly the Kings have a stranglehold now with people thinking this team is going to win the Cup, but it's amazing what 60 minutes can achieve.