Mike Richards #10 of the Los Angeles Kings and Jacob Josefson #16 of the New Jersey Devils battle hard for position after a faceoff during the game at the Prudential Center on October 13, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.
Lindsay Czarnecki, FOXSports.com editor
The Kings have seven active players who have actually played in the Stanley Cup Final: three winners and four losers. Every NHL champ has experienced veterans who have been there. For the Kings, that’s Rob Scuderi (pictured), Justin Williams and Dustin Penner. On the flip side, there’s Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter who have had to skate through the handshake line as losers. That's an experience that never leaves a player's mind. A well-rested and healthy Kings team will deliver the Cup to LA, doing something not even Wayne Gretzky could. Prediction: Kings in 5
Jenny Reisinger Cohen, FOXSports.com editor
The Philadelphia Flyers thought they were building a Stanley Cup finalist last summer when they shocked the hockey world by trading captain Mike Richards (pictured) and Jeff Carter. And their plan was a success — for the Kings. But Richards and Carter are only two examples of the moves Los Angeles has made in the past year to build a Cup contender. The team struggled at times during the season, adapted and finally succeeded. Even though this is a No. 8-seeded team, it's also a prime example of an organization doing all the right things at the right time. Los Angeles hasn't had a series go more than five games during these playoffs, and that's a trend that will continue. Prediction: Kings in 5
Denis Gorman, FOXSports.com contributing writer
Privately, NHL officials had to be hoping for a Rangers-Kings Stanley Cup Final, since they are in the two largest markets in the US. But the truth is, the Devils-Kings Final will be a more aesthetically pleasing series. Both teams attack offensively. Los Angeles' defense is better than New Jersey's, and Jonathan Quick (pictured) might be the Conn Smythe front-runner. Prediction: Kings in 6
Jen Floyd Engel, FOXSports.com staff writer
There will be a moment in the handshake line, after the Kings win Lord Stanley's Cup, when NHL general managers around the league will shake their collective heads and wonder: "How the hell did that just happen?" The Kings were not the best team in the league all season, were not even the best team in the Pacific. This will lead some to conclude, wrongly, this could have been them. It could not. The Stanley Cup playoffs are like super modeling — hot matters. No team was and is hotter than the Kings, and I am not sure this version of Martin Brodeur (pictured) is capable of stopping them. Prediction: Kings in 5
Jon Rosen, FOXSportsWest.com Kings beat writer
While both teams operate a heavy forecheck and use their speed to advance the puck quickly in setting up ample attacking zone time, the Kings have a size advantage that will create challenging matchups for the Devils' defense. Several Kings have excelled deep in the offensive zone, along the boards and in tight quarters. Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Dustin Penner and Dwight King (pictured) — Brown, at 6-foot-1, is the only member of that group under 6'3'' — have all been instrumental in LA’s puck possession game. They all will be key in pressuring New Jersey’s defense deep to create turnovers while making life difficult in front of Martin Brodeur. In raising their moribund regular-season offense to a unit that has averaged 2.93 goals per game in the playoffs, they Kings effectively crashed the net this postseason and have cashed in on their share of deflections, redirections and rebounds, with Jeff Carter’s three-goal game against Phoenix a fine representation. To get this far in the preview without referring to Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, and LA’s airtight but versatile defense is an indication of how deep and balanced this Kings team is. They’re not going to take a 3-0 lead on the Devils, as they did against their three previous opponents, but my money is on the Kings going 2-1 both at home and on the road. Prediction: Kings in 6
Jon Paul Morosi, FOXSports.com staff writer
US hockey devotees should feel great pride when the Devils’ Zach Parise or Kings’ Dustin Brown becomes only the second American captain to hoist the Stanley Cup. (Derian Hatcher of the 1999 Stars was the first.) Either Parise or Brown is on the verge of becoming the new face of hockey in our country. The eighth-seeded Kings play superbly at even strength and are the sentimental pick. The franchise never has won a Cup, and goaltender Jonathan Quick should start for Team USA at the Sochi Olympics. Prediction: Kings in 6
A.J. Perez, FOXSports.com staff writer
A lot has been made about the Los Angeles Kings being an eighth seed. Well, the New Jersey Devils are a sixth seed, guaranteeing that the lowest seed ever will raise the Stanley Cup. That team will be the Devils. New Jersey has the edge in veteran leadership — maybe a little too veteran in the cases of goalie Martin Brodeur (40 years old), forward Patrik Elias (36, pictured here) and defenseman Bryce Salvador (36) — and that can’t be overlooked, especially in net. Brodeur will be playing in his 200th playoff game Wednesday and while, no, he’s hasn’t been nearly as impressive as the Kings’ Jonathan Quick so far this postseason, Brodeur has hoisted that Cup three times already. It’ll be four soon enough. Prediction: Devils in 7
The offseason acquisition of center Mike Richards and the trade-deadline acquisition of forward Jeff Carter (pictured) cured the Kings’ only weakness: offense. Since acquiring Carter, the Kings are 27-7-3, including the playoffs, and went from scoring 2.1 goals per game to 3.1. Couple that with the team’s water-tight defense, Jonathan Quick’s Vezina-Trophy worthy goaltending, the size, speed and depth of the forward lines, the withering LA forecheck and coach Darryl Sutter’s intense, demanding approach, and you’ve got a team perfectly built for the playoff grind. LA is on a historic roll that won’t stop until the city lands its first Stanley Cup. Prediction: Kings in 6
John Manasso, FOXSportsTennessee.com Predators beat writer
When I heard Nashville coach Barry Trotz say that any team in the Western Conference, from the first seed to the eighth, could advance to the Stanley Cup Final, I thought it was the usual coach-speak about not underestimating your opponent. As with most things, Trotz was right. Beware the eighth-seeded Kings: They are the buzz saw that churned through the West’s top three seeds, requiring just two games more than the minimum. Coach Darryl Sutter (pictured), a midseason replacement for fired Terry Murray, is an enigma to the media and often his players, but he knows how to push the right buttons and has his team firing on a near-perfect level. Goalie Jonathan Quick leads the Stanley Cup playoffs in goals-against average (1.54) and save percentage (.946), and right wing Dustin Brown’s 13 points rank third among the playoff leaders and his plus-13 rating is tops. The Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) will come down to one of those two, and the Kings should prevail, benefiting in part from their rest while two of New Jersey’s three series have proved grueling affairs. Prediction: Kings in 6
Sam Gardner, FOXSports.com staff writer
The No. 6 Devils and No. 8 Kings make up one of the more unlikely Stanley Cup matchups in recent memory, but both underdogs have taken vastly different routes to the NHL’s biggest stage. LA steamrolled its way through the West behind the red-hot goaltending of Jonathan Quick, losing just two games in the first three rounds. New Jersey, meanwhile, was nearly bounced in the Eastern Conference’s first round by Florida and narrowly escaped in the conference finals against a Rangers team that, perhaps, played a better overall series. After weeks of playing escape artist, the Devils’ luck should finally run out. The only potential speed bump between the Kings and their first championship could be rust as a result of the seven-day break between Game 5 of the Western Conference finals and Wednesday’s Game 1. But LA also had five days off after eliminating Vancouver and a six-day breather after knocking off St. Louis, and neither layoff did much to slow the Kings' charge. The Final won’t be a cakewalk like the first three rounds — Stanley Cups aren’t supposed to come easy — but expect Los Angeles to keep riding Quick and finally lift the Cup in front of a home crowd. Prediction: Kings in 6
Scott Wilson, FOXSports.com NHL editor
Many people — myself included — have wondered how much longer Devils goalie Martin Brodeur can keep playing at an elite level. At 40, he still has us wondering, because he's showed no signs of slowing down this postseason. The Kings have their own all-world netminder, Jonathan Quick, who has showed us why he's a Vezina Trophy finalist. But the Devils were able to get to the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist in the Eastern Conference Final, mainly because of the relentless pressure of their forecheck and their ability to roll out line after line to sustain that pressure. The Kings will put up a fight, but they won't be able to handle it any better than the Rangers. Prediction: Devils in 6
Who's it gonna be?
The Los Angeles Kings have advanced to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1993. The New Jersey Devils are seeking their third Cup since 1995. So which team will NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (pictured) hand the Stanley Cup to this year? We rounded up our FOXSports.com NHL experts and asked them to pick their Stanley Cup champion.