Ilya Kovalchuk: 'It's best 2 teams'

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils were more than happy to play spoiler for those hoping for a New York Rangers-Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup final.

They just want to take home the title.

"I don't really care," star right winger Ilya Kovalchuk, the league's leading point-getter in the postseason, said after practice Monday.
"We're here to win and I think we deserve to be here, and so does L.A. I think it will be a great final. It's the best two teams in the league facing each other. It'll be exciting."

The sixth-seeded Devils and the eighth-seeded Kings certainly weren't expected to make it this far. But both teams began to peak at the most opportune time and are playing their best hockey right now.

Game 1 of their best-of-seven series will begin Wednesday night at the Prudential Center.

"I think we take amusement as a group (in that) I don't think anyone's felt we've measured up to anybody yet," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think that's a great challenge."

The Kings were able to breeze through the first three rounds with ease. So far, they're 12-2 overall, 8-0 on the road and have gone up 3-0 in all three of their series against the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks, second-seeded St. Louis Blues and third-seeded Phoenix Coyotes.

DeBoer said the key for his team is to get off to a good start in the finals, and, as a result, put some doubt into its opponent's minds.

"For sure we do," DeBoer said. "That's been the case really from the second round on. The Florida series was really everything we could handle, and we were favored. But after that, against Philly, the Rangers and L.A., there's not a whole lot of people picking us. Absolutely we have to come out of the gate and be ready to create some doubt. They're on a tremendous roll here. They've made some very good teams look real average."

DeBoer believes the Kings present a lot of challenges to his team.

"I think they've got multiple things we're gonna have to deal with," DeBoer said. "Obviously, the goaltender (Jonathan Quick) has been if not the best, one of the top two or three guys all year; the size and skill of the forwards; and Drew Doughty. That's a three- or four-headed monster."

The Devils, though, are no slouch. They play an aggressive forechecking style that allows their defensemen to pinch into the offensive zone. They have been rolling four lines and getting outstanding performances from 40-year-old netminder Martin Brodeur, who is four wins away from capturing his fourth championship.

Nevertheless, DeBoer doesn't mind if his team is considered the underdog.

"Nope," he responded.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.