Tha Los Angeles Kings completed a dominant run to the Stanley Cup last night and the clincher kind of summed up the surprising nature of this title run. The Kings, who had to fight to get into the playoffs in the final week of the season, rattled off a 16-4 record for the postseason with an 11 game road win streak, and 3-zip leads in all 4 postseason series. On top of that, they took out the top 3 seeds in the Western Conference and in my opinion, they were battling history when they faced Marty Brodeur and the Devils in the Finals. It has been this guys opinion from the gate that if Brodeur won the Cup this season, it would’ve been his last in the NHL, now I’m not so sure. One thing is certain, Marty and the Devils deserve a lot of credit for putting together somewhat of a surprising Cup run of their own. As a matter of fact, if it wasn’t for the Kings, the Devils would have been the Cinderella story.
But I think that’s the thing that is so very odd about this Championship; it doesn’t feel like a Cinderella story. Out of the 16 teams that made the playoffs, only 3 had less point than the Kings. The Kings came in as the 8 seed in a very strong Western Conference (all three of the playoff teams with less points than the Kings were from the Eastern Conference), they were opening the postseason with the defending Western Conference Champs and newly crowned President Trophy winners, and a long history of inconsistency and disappointment; this did not look good for the Kings. All of those reasons that I just listed are proof positive that stats, and predictions just don’t mean dick when it comes down to it. When the season started, I think the expectations for the Kings were fairly high, but by the end it was more of a ”well we made the playoffs, at least that’s something” type of attitude attached to this team. On paper, the Kings should’ve lost their first 3 series convincingly, but paper doesn’t do shit on ice…it just lays there, and after three games of each of these playoffs series the Kings played in so did their opponents. These teams (Canucks, Blues, Coyotes and Devils respectively) looked like they never stood a chance…except for the Devils. That’s why I think last night’s game was the perfectly suitable ending to what will go down as the most “la-de-da” surprise in sports history. The Kings winning the Stanley Cup is a huge surprise, don’t get me wrong, but since about half way through the second round of the postseason, it became more of a shock that you get from a surprise birthday party. You know, initially you’re like “Holy Shit! You got me, I’m stunned,” but then after talking about it for a few hours you are completely over it. That is until next year when your buddies bring it up to you again and you talk about how cool it was to be that surprised…that is what the Kings did this postseason and last night. They came into this Game 6 with a slight nervousness that maybe the carriage was pumpkin bound, and this run was going to end as epically as it started, but the Kings put an end to that quickly and by the end of the 1st period, there really was no doubt. Jonathan Quick Conn Smythe Trophy winner for playoff MVP) was not giving up more than 2 goals in a game this important, and they went into that first break with a 3-0 lead and it was party time in LA.
So congrats Los Angeles, it’s nice to see some other colors win the title there. I will take no credit for this, I saw this elsewhere, but let my be the first Rioter! to proclaim LA, “HOCKEYWOOD.” You deserve it, and we’ll see you in late 2012 for the start of the next NHL season. I’m packing up my pads and my skates, because as a Rangers fan, this was a painful ending to a promising season. Now it’s onto baseball, where my surprising NY Mets are trying to make me believe that they are something more than a sub-.500 team….I’m not buying it yet, but like the Rangers and Jets before them this year, the Mets will find a way to pull my heart out through my nostrils. Until then you puck-heads, have a great summer and Congrats to the KINGS.
Jack Buck’s MNF Memories