Why doesn't everyone play this way?

For starters, it's exhausting. It guarantees that forwards will have to hit and get hit—a lot—and that taxes, over a long season, and even over the playoffs. It demands young, fresh legs. (Not a single Kings forward is over 30.)


The system also minimizes the freakishly gifted players, if your team has any. Ilya Kovalchuk has one of the league's best wrist shots. It works best from the slot, with open ice. If he's on the boards or behind the net, he can't use his big shot.

And it leaves the team susceptible to quick breakouts and, in turn, odd-man rushes. Tired forwards playing behind the net get beat to their defensive zone a lot.


But the Kings (and the Rangers, who played this style, exhaustingly, all season long) make up for it with the best last line of defense imaginable: a great goalie. In the playoffs, Jonathan Quick has stopped 94.6 percent of the shots he's faced. That's cartoonish, and it allows the Kings to gamble with whatever kind of forecheck they want.

Martin Brodeur's not quite so good, and the defensemen in front of him aren't quite as good as the Kings' crew. Perhaps that's why the Devils have tasked only one line with all-out pressure, although coach Peter DeBoer has superior forwards on other lines—Zach Parise, Patrik Elias, David Clarkson—who should be able to play well down low if he turned them loose.


We imagine the Kings' style—thanks to their great success, and the Rangers'—will become the norm across the NHL during every playoff season. Every team will hunt for their own Ryan Callahans, Dustin Browns, and even Stephen Giontas. (One will be on the free-agent market, actually: Zach Parise.) The folks who crave "wide-open play," or some such thing, will howl, as they did a few weeks back about the Rangers' shot-blocking. But the game will get wiser and tougher, as it always does.