NEWARK - (AP) - Roughly two years ago, the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils were the finalists in the battle for free agent Ilya Kovalchuk.
The Devils won the right to keep the high-scoring Russian with a bid of $102 million.
Wednesday night, the teams will start fighting for a much bigger prize, the Stanley Cup. In this contest, skill, heart and desire will decide the outcome. Nothing else.
And it doesn't matter that the Devils and Kings aren't the two teams most experts expected to be left standing.
Led by Kovalchuk and Martin Brodeur, the Devils are just the second No. 6 seed to reach the finals.
Riding the goaltending of Jonathan Quick, the Kings are only the second No. 8 seed to make it since the conference-based NHL playoff format was introduced in 1993-94.