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How they match up: Devils vs. Kings

Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils celebrates

Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils celebrates with teammate David Clarkson #23 after scoring a goal in the first period against the Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. (May 25, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

INTANGIBLES

Despite being the No. 8 seed, the Kings have been the most dominant team this postseason, a perfect 8-0 road mark on the line in tonight's Game 1. They have learned to be far more opportunistic on offense than they were for much of the season. The Devils have been the underdogs since the first round, dispatching the Flyers and Rangers with most observers waiting for them to fold. Both teams will be playing to their strengths in these Finals. Edge: Even

GOALTENDERS

Marty Brodeur hasn't had to save his team much this postseason -- he's had to be very good, which the best goaltender of all time is still capable of at age 40. Jonathan Quick has had to be excellent at all times, and he's been up to the task, though since the Canucks flamed out to the Kings in the opening round, Quick, at left, hasn't faced a team as skilled as the Devils. If Quick is as good as he's been, the Devils might get frustrated early.Edge: Kings

FORWARDS

The Devils have the higher-end skill up front, with Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, but the Kings have gotten contributions from up and down their four lines. Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar have been superb, but so have Jarrett Stoll and rookie Dwight King. The Devils' unheralded fourth line made a big difference against the Rangers, and Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier will have to be big again, given how balanced the Kings have been. Edge: Devils

DEFENSEMEN

At age 36, Bryce Salvador is an unlikely candidate to be one of the best defensemen so far in the playoffs, but the Devils veteran has been steady in his own end and a surprising bonus on offense. To counter the impact of L.A.'s defensemen, the Devils need more from Andy Greene, Marek Zidlicky and Anton Volchenkov. Drew Doughty is the leader in all areas for the Kings' defense, ably aided so far by vet Willie Mitchell and rookie Slava Voynov. Edge: Kings

COACHING

Darryl Sutter took over just before Christmas and slowly but surely helped the Kings turn around their disappointing season and become the contender everyone thought they'd be. Peter DeBoer had a tougher task, getting a team that had played a certain style for decades to become more up-tempo and aggressive. DeBoer's crew hasn't wavered since day one. Edge: Devils

PREDICTION

It's about as even a matchup as can be, with the Kings better at the back and the Devils better up front. Give the edge to the wily veterans from Jersey, with Brodeur possibly ending a brilliant career by hoisting his fourth Stanley Cup. Devils in 6

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