NHL

McKenzie: Devils defence could struggle with Kings' size

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Bob McKenzie
5/26/2012 8:27:32 PM
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Some quick thoughts from the NHL on TSN panel on Saturday.

The depth of the New Jersey Devils' defence is really going to be tested because of the size of the Los Angeles Kings.

Devils head coach Peter DeBoer has played his six defencemen almost evenly throughout the playoffs.

Now it's not socialism on the blue line with all six players getting identical ice-time but it's close.

The pairing of Marek Zidlicky and Bryce Salvador gets 22-24 minutes per game, Andy Greene and Mark Fayne average 18-20 minutes per game with the pairing of Anton Volchenkov and former King Peter Harrold picking the remainder.

That distribution of ice-time is great against teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers, who do not play a punishing style.

The challenge for the New Jersey defence, which has been greater than the sum of its parts in the playoffs, will be handling the size and physical presence of the Kings. They did it against the New York Rangers but the Rangers are not as consistently physical down low as the Kings.

Best of the Rest

The traditional argument of the Western Conference Champion being at a disadvantage due to a heavy travel schedule should not hold up in this year's Cup Final.

The Kings have definitely had more travel than the Devils but by Western Conference standards no team has ever come out of the West with as much rest as these Kings.

That's entirely to their own credit because they have been knocking out teams early and have not had to make extra trips.

What can Brown do for you?

My top three candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy haven't changed much from the last round. Kings captain Dustin Brown leads the way with teammate Anze Kopitar nipping at his heels and Travis Zajac of the Devils also in the running.

You can go a lot of different ways with Brown. He leads his team in goals, including game-winners, and points, including the shorthanded variety, and he's tied with Kopitar in plus/minus. He's also got the most penalty minutes, the most hits, he draws the most penalties and he makes the other team the most angry.

Early in the playoffs, it looked like it was going to be the Jonathan Quick show but it's turned into the Dustin Brown show.

Dustin Penner (Photo: Rich Lam/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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