The Los Angeles Kings have punched their ticket to the big dance, which starts on May 30th in either New Jersey or New York. The journey for Los Angeles had it’s ups and downs just like any other team but their success should not be surprising. For the first time since 1993 in which a team led by “The Great One” Wayne Gretzy, Los Angeles will see Stanley Cup Playoff hockey. Overall, the acquisitions, trades, and money spent on this team could be all worth it if the Kings can win 4 more games.
Lead by head coach Darryl Sutter, who came to the Los Angeles Kings on December 20th, 2011, only took a year and half to turn this team into a Stanley Cup finalist. Overall, this season was nothing that special during the regular season, in fact, it came down to the final regular season game to see where the LA Kings would be spotted in the postseason, which ended up being the #8 seed, but the Kings did not seem to mind.
A correlation I can make with this team has to be with past champions from seperate sports. For example, the past two Super Bowl Champions were both very low seeds. The 2011 champions Green Bay Packers were hot at the end of the regular season but barely made the playoffs, but that hot streak during the final weeks during the regular season carried throughout the playoffs. The 2012 Super Bowl Champions, New York Giants like the Packers barely made it in with an average record, but got hot at the right time and made the playoffs and managed to once again defeat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for the 2nd time. On August 24, after the St. Louis Cardinals played their 130th game of the season, they were 10 1⁄2 games behind the Wild Card leading Atlanta Braves with only 32 games remaining. They finished the regular season on a 23-9 run, and finished one game better than the Atlanta Braves, setting a record for the biggest comeback in MLB history after 130 games. The Cardinals ended up winning the World Series. Like these other teams, the Kings were not necessarily the most dominating team all season long, they just got hot at the right time. In the final 10 games of the regular season, the Kings managed to get points in 8 of the final 10 games.
With an All Star snub like Anze Kopitar leading the way, Los Angeles counted on him all season long, and he did not disappoint. However, Jonathan Quick has to be the MVP of this team, in my opinion possibly in the NHL. Had it not been for Jonathan Quick’s brilliance all season long, this team does not make the playoffs. I’ve said this before, that if you were to look across the league the Kings were on complete opposite sides of the spectrum when it came to goals per game and goals allowed. Any team with solid goaltending has a chance to make a run anytime of the year, but the Kings had to luxury of having possibly the hottest goalie in the NHL, all season long.
Let me just run down some stats Jonathan Quick posted comparing the regular season and the postseason.
Regular Season Postseason
Wins: 35 (ranked 5th) 12(ranked 1st)
Sv %: .929 (ranked 5th) .954 (ranked 1st)
GAA: 1.95 (ranked 2nd) 1.54 (ranked 1st)
Saying Jonathan Quick is a good goaltender is a slap in the face, he is All World right now.
I’m not surprised however with Quick’s numbers, what I’m more surprised is what Los Angeles has been able to do offensively. Acquiring Jeff Carter had to be a no brainer if the Kings wanted to make a run this year. LA struggled mightily to score all season and long and had it not been for their lack of scoring, this team could have been among the elites. Los Angeles averaged 2.2 goals a game during the regular season, which ranked them 29th. During the postseason, that number went up to 3 goals a game, which ranks them 3rd among all playoff teams. Players like Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Mike Richards, Dustin Penner have all stepped up their games this postseason. Particularly Penner, who had 17 points in 65 games during the regular season! He has 10 in 14 postseason games, so it will be interesting to see if any teams come calling his way since he will be a free agent in the upcoming offseason.
In the end, we should not be surprised that a team like Los Angeles has snuck up on the entire nation by defeating the #1 Vancouver Canucks in 5 games, sweeping the #2 Seed St. Louis Blues, and man handling the #3 Phoenix Coyotes in 5 games. The city of Los Angeles has to be proud of this team for all that they have done. In the end, the Kings have a great opportunity starting May 30th to do something hardly ever seen in sports, and thats a #8 seed making it to the Stanley Cup Championship. The Kings were only the 7th team in NHL history to make the Final in 14 games, no one has ever done it in 13. They were also the first team in the current NHL playoff format to go undefeated on the road and make it to the Final. History has been made by this LA team, and the commonly used slogan by the NHL “Because It’s The Cup” just proves that as long as you make the playoffs, history can be made every night.
Thank you for reading, comments are surely appreciated.
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