It was so close to becoming one of the most ho-hum series in NHL Stanley Cup Finals history. The Los Angeles Kings, rolling through the playoffs as an 8-seed, looked destined to wrap up a sweep of the New Jersey Devils in Game 4, and seal their franchises’ first Stanley Cup victory in 45 years of existence. However, the New Jersey Devils had other plans for them. Winning back-to-back games while simultaneously handing the Kings their first consecutive losses in the playoffs this year and snapping their 10-game road winning streak, the Devils have turned this showdown into an exciting, and for all hockey fans aligning themselves with the Black and Silver, nerve-racking, 7-game series for the Cup. With tonight’s Game 6 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, for the third consecutive time everything will be on the line for both teams, and no doubt the energy and excitement will be palpable come puck drop at 8:22 PM ET.
The New Jersey Devils have managed to swing the tide of fortunate in their favor during this series, not necessarily playing their game all too different after 3 consecutive losses, but rather they appear to be getting the breaks that the Kings managed to bring their way in the first few games of the series. Whereas in Games 1 and 2, the Devils often outplayed the Kings on their home ice, and simply wound up unlucky with shots clanging of the posts and a few lucky plays giving LA overtime wins in close games, now the Devils are seeing that their persistence is paying off, getting the lucky bounces and getting on top of the scoring. After being blown out in Game 3, something fundamentally changed for the New Jersey Devils. Perhaps it was desperation, perhaps it was their 40-year old goaltender Martin Brodeur deciding that LA was no longer going to rally behind an opening goal and dictate the game from that point on. The most likely scenario though, the Devils are finally playing the way the Devils have always played throughout this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Getting big efforts from their star players like Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and rookie Adam Henrique, and capitalizing on the smallest of mistakes to make big confidence-building strides period-by-period, New Jersey has clawed themselves back into the realm of the ‘could they actually do it?’ conversation, and arguably now has the upper hand in the series with all the pressure on the Kings to close out and avoid a catastrophically embarrassing failure.
Let’s take a look at what has really changed for the Devils in this series. In Game 6, we saw the Kings dominate the opening period of play with an aggressive forecheck, better skating and fast-paced offensive attacks, but we also saw the Devils come out with a lead after Zach Parise took advantage of a poorly-played puck by LA netminder Jonathan Quick. A rare opportunity indeed, as one can hardly recall a mistake like that made by LA’s rock between the pipes, but this time the Devils capitalized, with an excellent, smart play by Parise around the net. Though this goal didn’t last for too long, with the Kings bouncing back like they have done so well throughout the playoffs after a goal is scored on them, the Devils increased their presence on the forecheck, solidified their defense in front of Martin Brodeur, and got yet another lucky bounce when defenseman Bryce Salvador’s shot ricocheted off an LA defenseman and into net just past Jonathan Quick. In a series that is so evenly matched, the difference maker has been who’s side luck is on, and right now the Devils have fully courted that special lady into seating herself firmly on the New Jersey bench.
For the Kings then, tonight’s Game 6 is all about getting the pressure and the nervousness over failure out of their heads. Fortunately for them, they have one of the most stoic and well-poised coaches in the league in Darryl Sutter, who no doubt will let the Kings players know that despite their two straight losses, they still have two opportunities to close out the Stanley Cup, including the game tonight at home in front of their home fans. Also, the Kings haven’t been suffering from a let-down in play whatsoever, as their were plenty of moments of brilliance in the last two games that should keep their spirits high. Justin Williams certainly stood out on Saturday night, scoring the lone goal for the Kings. Dustin Brown played a scrappier game, and was again the physical leader on the ice. Despite giving up 2 goals, Jonathan Quick was at his usual best, and despite his own error playing the puck, would have otherwise only allowed one deflected goal that was really out of his control. Los Angeles knows that they have the bigger, faster, and harder-hitting team out of the two skating on ice, and they have been trained well to understand that this was truly never a 4 game series with a team like the Devils so evenly matching them. If they can simply get back into their mode of hockey, playing fast and furious, scrambling for loose pucks down in the Jersey zone, and preventing the big mistake, there is no question that the Kings can wrap up at home and deliver their fans the first Stanley Cup Trophy in franchise history.
Betting Lines for the Los Angeles Kings vs. New Jersey Devils Game 6 at Betonline Sportsbook.
Heading back home, the Los Angeles Kings will be the favored team to win tonight on the money line, getting -160 odds at Betonline Sportsbook. The New Jersey Devils on the other hand will have +145 odds as underdogs, which could make for an enticing bet for those sports pickers who expect a Game 7 to be pushed back to New Jersey to finish converting this series from a dud to an explosion of epic proportions.
Against the spread, the LA Kings would have to cover 1½ goals to earn spread takers +195 odds. For the Devils, they’ll have a 1 ½ goal cushion to play with, but weaker odds at -225 price to do so. 2 of the last 3 games have pushed past 1 ½ goals mark, and it’s certainly a possibility that we’ll see another empty net goal be the make or break for the spread here tonight.
For the over/under, it’s becoming an absolute routine to see 4 ½ goals set as the mark, despite the fact that all 5 games have gone under the points line thus far. While there’s no way that the bookmakers are going to push the line down even farther, being as low as it already is, once again with these two amazing defenses and great goalies on the ice, we have to recommend getting a piece of the under total points action, as it’s been the surest wager throughout the Stanley Cup Finals series. Goals will be once again hard to come by with everything on the line this evening, so definitely consider going with the -115 odds on the under bet here today.
The stars will align themselves with either the Los Angeles Kings or the New Jersey Devils for Game 6 tonight, as no doubt the two teams will be skating to the best of their abilities in such a crucial match-up, so make sure to spot your wagers on your favorite this evening, as once again this could very well be the final game in what has been a fantastic NHL Hockey postseason run. Enjoy the action on the betting lines, enjoy the game at Staples Center this evening, and we certainly hope you come out a winner whichever way you place your bets at Betonline Sportsbook today!