The Stanley Cup matchup couldn’t have worked out better for THE GREAT MAMBINO. Our resident NHL expert, Pucklius, will be on the precipice of a heart attack, as he roots for Devils legend Martin Brodeur to hoist the trophy one more time. Que-Ese, TGM’s favorite utilityman and promoter-extraordinaire, is on the other side, cheering for the Kings of the city of angels.
We’ve been giving you previews all along the way as these teams have fought through battle after battle just to have their names etched next to Lord Stanley. But for this final round, I asked Puck and Que one question:
Who has the better playoff atmosphere?
Que-Ese: Better playoff atmosphere? Anywhere but LA.
As far as the Kings are concerned, every game of the Finals should be played in New Jersey. Its not shocking to find out that the Kings have played well on the road in places where hockey really matters (again, anywhere but Los Angeles). For some reason, the boys have responded to playing the role of the underdog spoiler. They have been so successful at feeding off the opposing crowd that they have set a record this postseason for most consecutive playoff road victories (8 and counting!). Jeff Carter put it best after game 2 in Phoenix about the Kings’ road success.
“I think it’s just a mindset. We get away, there’s no distractions. The guys are together. The coaches have us well-prepared. For some reason this team… likes to play on the road.”
That’s not to say it’s easy to play in Los Angeles. Both teams have to play on the worst ice in the NHL, and the Devils will have to deal with our fairly raucous fans. If I was to rank playoff home crowds in LA based on intensity/passion inside the building, I would rank it:
1. Clippers (that hurt to type)
Now that the Kings are trendy, watch for more celebrities in the crowd and a whole lot more of this:
Pucklius: Better playoff atmosphere – Madison Square Garden.
What’s that? The Devils don’t play home games at MSG? That’s funny since they seemed plenty comfortable there last week (Heyooooo).
Seriously though folks, the Prudential Center isn’t exactly known for its wild home fans — the crowds can be extremely sparse when you go to a Tuesday night game in January against Winnipeg. But as a man who has been in the stands for three games at the Rock during this playoff run, I can say that the playoff atmosphere has been right up there with the best of them. It probably hasn’t hurt that New Jersey wound up playing its two biggest rivals in consecutive rounds in Philadelphia and the Rangers, but even in Round 1 against the ambivalence-inducing Florida Panthers the crowd was rocking after each Devils goal.
That said, the constant direction from the P.A. to “Wave your towels!” and “Get on your feet” could basically have said, “We think our fans don’t know how to properly cheer at a game” and had the same impact, but the results are all that matters most of the time, and for New Jersey the results have been there. Much has been made of the Kings and their perfect road record in the postseason — rightfully so — but the Devils’ 6-2 home mark is the best in the postseason, too. And that can’t be taken lightly. Devils fans are there, and they’re real. They just don’t always show up in the dead of winter. That’s not the most inspiring thing to hear, but it ain’t the winter right now. The fans will be out in full force Wednesday night, and they won’t be quiet.
Que: Kings in six. You probably want some insight or reason behind it, but I have none. I have predicted the Kings to win in six for all of the last three series. I have been wrong for each series as the Kings have torched the opposition and won handily. So I am going with what has worked for far. I am pulling for the Kings in six but I would not be disappointed if they are raising the Cup over their heads in five.
Pucklius could not be reached for comment, since he has…umm…official business…of which to take care.