Los Angeles Kings at New Jersey Devils (100, 4.5)
THE STORY: In the parity-driven NHL, any team qualifying for the postseason has a chance at reaching the Stanley Cup championships - and this year's participants are living proof. The upstart New Jersey Devils look for their first Stanley Cup title in nearly a decade as they host the opening game of the best-of-seven Wednesday night against Los Angeles. The Kings haven't been to the finals since 1993 and are looking for their first championship in franchise history.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS
ABOUT THE KINGS: Los Angeles found itself in eighth place in the Western Conference after losing its regular-season finale to San Jose. Since then, the Kings have been the hottest team in the league, going 12-2 against top-seeded Vancouver, No. 2 St. Louis and No. 3 Phoenix to reach the championship round for the first time since Wayne Gretzky was the star of L.A. If the Kings prevail, they'll be the lowest-scoring team in history to raise the Stanley Cup - but that designation hasn't really applied since acquiring forward Jeff Carter from Columbus. Los Angeles averaged an extra 0.54 goals per game in the lineup, giving them a balanced offense to complement a solid defense and sensational goaltending from Jonathan Quick.
ABOUT THE DEVILS: Sixth-seeded New Jersey almost didn't make it out of the first round, needing seven games to dispatch the pesky Florida Panthers. A five-game romp over the Philadelphia Flyers and an impressive six-game triumph over the top-ranked New York Rangers has the Devils in position to capture their fourth Stanley cup championship, and first since 2003. Leading the way has been 40-year-old goaltender Martin Brodeur, who posted a 2.00 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in guiding the Devils past the favored Rangers. His next playoff game will be the 200th of his NHL career; only fellow netminder Patrick Roy (247) has appeared in more.
- Kings are 8-0 in their last eight road games.
- The under is 20-7-1 in the Devils' last 28 vs. Western Conference.
- Kings are 21-7 in their last 28 overall.
1. New Jersey won both regular-season meetings, prevailing 2-1 in a shootout on Oct. 13 and blanking Los Angeles 3-0 just 12 days later.
2. The Devils ranked first in the NHL in penalty killing during the regular season but has struggled mightily in the playoffs, ranked 13th overall at 74.2 percent.
3. No team seeded lower than fifth has ever won the Stanley Cup. The No. 5 Devils were the lowest-ranked club to accomplish the feat in 1995.