Originally posted on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 6/6/12

UNIONDALE, NY - OCTOBER 02: Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 2, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Devils 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New Jersey Devils @ Los Angeles Kings

Stanley Cup Final, Game 4

8:00 ET… TV: NBC Sports Network, CBC

Players to watch:
NJ-      Ilya Kovalchuk

Kovalchuk could be battling an injury, but he has still been silent through the three most important games of his career.  Facing elimination, can ‘Kovy’ bust out and get on the scoresheet?  Or will he fade off into the summer with the rest of the team?

LA-      Matt Greene

The Kings have had numerous unsung heroes this spring, but one of them has been Greene.  His work on the penalty kill and in the defensive zone has been superb, especially in Monday’s Game 3.

Projected starting goaltenders:

NJ-      Martin Brodeur (Playoff stats: 12-8, 2.09 GAA)

LA-      Jonathan Quick (Playoff stats: 15-2, 1.36 GAA)

Three things to watch:

1. Can the Kings complete the sweep?

Judging by how Game 3 played out, the odds are in the Kings’ favor to complete the sweep tonight to claim their first Stanley Cup in their 45-year franchise history.  The Devils had their chances to make this a series early on in Game 3, but the Kings showed a killer instinct and determination level that couldn’t be matched.  If the Kings win tonight, it’d be the first Cup Final sweep since Detroit did it in 1998.

2. The first 20 minutes

If the Devils have anything left for this season, it will be poured out in the first period.  If they come out flat and the Kings capitalize, there will be handshakes and a celebration tonight.  Peter DeBoer’s club has to come out like gangbusters and gain some momentum in the first 10 minutes or so in their effort to stave off elimination.

3. Parise’s last stand with the Devils?

As much as the Devils’ run to the Cup Final has been impressive, there is the chance that this could be Zach Parise’s final game in a Devils uniform.  It’s certainly not on his mind, nor should it be; but it’s the elephant in the room, as Parise is one of the top free agents available in the looming off-season.  He has done a lot for the Devils over the years.  It’ll be interesting to see how he performs here in Game 4 with his team’s backs against the wall.

Final thoughts:

The only thing stopping the Kings tonight would be their inability to win a Game 4 in two of the three previous series.  With 3-0 series leads, they failed to clinch on home ice against Vancouver and Phoenix.  However, they did sweep away St. Louis and New Jersey isn’t providing much hope to extend this series to a fifth game.  It’s a formality that Dustin Brown will be meeting Gary Bettman at center ice to raise the Cup.  And that moment could very well happen tonight.  Quick, again, is the difference maker and wins the Conn Smythe unanimously.

Prediction: Kings 3, Devils 1

Video of the day:

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