The Los Angeles Kings shocked the sports world during this NHL postseason. At a time when NHL coverage on the news and sports channels usually takes a back seat to what is happening in the NBA’s postseason, the Kings had all of the attention. On Monday night the Kings won Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the New Jersey Devils. It was their first Stanley Cup trophy in the franchises 45 year history.
It was an amazing year for the Kings who began the year with not very high expectations. Some figured they could make the playoffs but no one had any idea what was about to occur when the season kicked off last Fall.
The Kings had an average regular season finishing with a record of 40 wins, 27 loses and 15overtime loses. When April started and the final games before the post season were about to be played many thought the Kings would not even qualify for the playoffs. Well they did but barely and got the placed in the playoffs as the 8th seed. The Kings faced off against the 1st seeded Vancouver Canucks and shocked the hockey world by taking the series in 5 games. It was their first time making it out of the first round since 2001. The Kings then swept the 2nd seeded St. Louis Blues and the hockey world started to think, maybe these guys are for real. It was confirmed when the Kings took game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 4-3 in overtime to advance into the Finals. The Kings made history during this incredible playoff run by being the first 8th seeded team to beat both the 1st and 2nd seeded teams in the playoffs.
There were high expectations for the Kings by the time they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. They were so dominant and seemed to breeze through the first 3 rounds. The Kings did not lose any road games during the first 3 rounds of the NHL postseason. The Kings had about a week off before the Cup was to begin. Some were worried they might lose the momentum they had built up in the previous month of play. Momentum ended up not being a problem for the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Stanley Cup Finals started on May 30th between the Kings and the Devils. Game 1 took place in New Jersey and the sports world was on the edge of it seat to see if the Kings could keep up their incredible run and capture the cup. The Kings took game 1 in overtime by a score of 2-1 with a goal from Anze Kopitar. Game 2 was a similar story when both teams were tied 1-1 after 3 periods. The Kings received a goal from Jeff Carter to win the game 2-1 over the Devils.
Games 3 and 4 took place in L.A. at the Staples Center. The Kings would blow out the veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur and the Devils 4 goals to 0. As game 4 approached it looked like the Kings would get the sweep and make NHL History not only for their playoff run but their Finals run as well. With game 4 came disappointment came with a 3-1 lose as the series would then head back to New Jersey for game 5.
Game 5 was another disappointment with a close 2-1 lose. But the good news was that the series was headed back to L.A. for game 6 and the Kings were only 1 win away from the Championship.
Game 6 brought an incredible blow out victory. The Kings goaltender Johnathan Quick was named the series MVP for his great play during the Finals. Quick also had a great postseason overall winning 16 games and only losing 4 over the month and a half playoff season. The Kings defeated the Devils 6-1 and sealed their place in NHL History as one of the most surprising champions to have ever come out of the NHL postseason.
This Stanley Cup victory will never be forgotten by the hockey world or the sports world for that matter. The city of L.A. needed this victory at a time when the Lakers and Clippers both were knocked out of the NBA Playoffs early. The city of L.A. got red hot over the Kings outstanding postseason run. Many casual fans that disappeared when Wayne Gretzky left the team for the Rangers in the late 90’s were back. The American Hockey scene needed this victory as well. This could spark excitement and push the sport even further in the American Culture.
The Kings are as they proved a very talented and young team that could dominate the NHL for years to come. I know that many fans will be waiting for next season to see if the Kings return to their 2012 playoff form. But until then we should acknowledge how great of a team this was and how much of a story book playoff run this 2011-2012 Kings team had. Long live the Kings!