A week ago tonight, the L.A. Kings spanked the Devils 4-0 at home to take a (seemingly) insurmountable 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals. At the time, city officials were making plans for a championship parade, and ice hockey ranked ahead of the NBA, Major League Baseball and the Playboy Mansion as the hottest thing in La-La land. Then New Jersey stole a 3-1 victory in Game 3, sending the series back to the East Coast. No problem, as the Kings were a perfect 10-for-10 on the road in these playoffs. Make that 10-for-11, as the Devils once again staved off elimination, this time with Saturday’s 2-1 win.
Now the series — rather than a parade — returns to Staples Center for Game 6, and all of a sudden, all the pressure is on Los Angeles. The Devils, meanwhile, get to continue with their “nothing-to-lose” style. That’s just one reason New Jersey offers tremendous value as a big underdog tonight. Here are a few more: 1.) Take away the Kings’ 4-0 Game 3 victory (by the way, it was a 1-0 contest with about 5 minutes to play in the second period) and this series is nearly dead even (seven goals for L.A., six for New Jersey); 2.) These teams met twice in the regular season (granted, way back in October), and the Devils prevailed 2-1 (in a shootout) and 3-0 (in L.A.); 3.) While the Kings have been remarkable on the road in these playoffs, they’ve been slightly above-average at home, going 5-3, including 1-3 in elimination games; and 4.) New Jersey has won five of its last seven on the road, scoring 18 goals in those five victories.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆
Friday’s Result: White Sox (-145) vs. Astros (Loss)