By Darren Pang - Special to NHL.com
Hockey commentator Darren Pang is assisting the NHL Network in its coverage of the Stanley Cup Final as an analyst. Pang, a former goaltender for the Chicago Blackhawks and the current color voice of the St. Louis Blues, is also writing a blog for NHL.com every other day during the Final
In his second entry, Pang provides an in-depth analysis of the Kings' overtime win in Game 2 and explains why the Devils have not gotten the job done on the power play.
I really liked the adjustments that New Jersey made. I can understand why they would be very empty after losing Game 2 and full of frustration, because I thought they executed extremely well. All the things Peter DeBoer and the players worked on in practice prior to Game 2, I thought they successfully did it -- other than beating Jonathan Quick.
I thought they did a really good job, especially in the offensive zone, of getting pucks back to the point and using the weak-side D. I thought between all the defensemen, they had good looks from the point position. They really did. If there's a negative to the lineup of New Jersey, there's not a real game-breaker back there. Zidlicky is good offensively, but there's still not a lot of offense from the blue line. That might be an area when they look back and say, "We had a lot of good chances from back there but we couldn't finish."
The Devils are like so many teams that have played against L.A. I think there's a game plan. We saw in Game 2 when there was a lot of deflections off to the side. Basically, what they were trying to do was back Jonathan Quick up, get him deeper in his crease, and therefore, when you get a chance to shoot it from far out, maybe get him that one time when he's deeper but not really challenging. Every time they made a play, he was already on top of it. Every time there was a shot off to the side, whether it was his right or his left, he already made that push over there and was already well-prepared for the deflection, or the shot, or the tip-in, whatever it might've been in Game 2.
I believe the quality of chances were there for New Jersey. But the goaltender was the equalizer for L.A. He was awesome.
The Kings still played a pretty mean game along the boards. I thought there was a lot of battles along the boards. Jersey did a good job in Game 1 along the boards to keep plays alive. I thought in Game 2, there was a little more nastiness from L.A. Whether it was Matt Greene along the boards or Willie Mitchell along the boards, I thought they played a pretty hard game. But L.A. did what L.A. does. They don't break. When you need your goaltender to make five-star saves, he gives them that. They gain confidence off that and go the other way.
A guy that's unheralded in Game 2, and Jeff Carter tried to say this in an interview after scoring the OT winner about the neutral zone, Alec Martinez made a great pass through the neutral zone on the regroup, and that allowed Carter to come into the zone with speed. If Martinez goes D-to-D, that play's dead. But he looked up and saw Carter come on off a line change, saw him with speed and put it right on the tape. That made it difficult for New Jersey to hold the line because of the speed that Carter had.
Ilya Kovalchuk called the Devils' power play "embarrassing." I agree with him. In a time in which the big boys on New Jersey needed to come up big, to go 0-for-4 on the power play, it's not good enough. That's it. It's not good enough. Their entrance into the zone seems sloppy. Their neutral zone play seemed uncertain. When they did it get it into the offensive zone, I thought there was far too much freelancing, which plays right into the hands of the Los Angeles Kings.
They were aggressive, jumping, they supported one another. It was a combination of two things -- 1) New Jersey wasn't very sharp, and 2) There's a reason why the Kings' penalty kill on the road is 96 percent. They've only given up two power-play goals on the road. You have to give Los Angeles a lot of credit for how they handle the front of the net and how their forwards read and react and make adjustments during the course of a penalty kill.