[originally post for www.betonhockey.com on May 29th, 2012]
However unlikely it may have seemed at the beginning of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils will meet in a seven game series to determine which team has earned the right to have their names etched on hockey’s greatest chalice.
I see the series boiling down to six main factors: goaltending, overtime, shots, scoring, special teams, and experience. Here’s a statistical rundown of how both teams have done in those categories up until now.
Jonathan Quick has had to appear in four less games than Martin Brodeur (14 to Brodeur’s 18), and has only felt the sting of losing twice, whereas Brodeur and the Devils have dropped five. Quick has also only had to be on the ice for 857:48 minutes of play, while Brodeur has had 1,089:40 – that’s 3 hours, 51 minutes, and 52 seconds more work than Quick has had to do. Quick also has 2 shutouts to Brodeur’s 1.
Quick remains perfect in overtime through two showings, while Brodeur has lost one of five appearances (game one of round two versus Philadelphia). Jarret Stoll and Dustin Penner of LA and Alexi Ponikarovsky, Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique (2) have been the overtime scorers.
Shots are scoring opportunities, and both teams will have to maximize and make the most of theirs if they are to beat either elite goaltender. Quick has faced 73 less shots than Brodeur (406/479), having to make less saves (384/442) and has let in 15 less goals (22/37), posting a better GAA (1.54%/2.04%) and save percentage (.946%/.923%) along the way. Zach Parise is second in the playoffs for shots (68) while Dustin Brown is LA’s leader (49). New Jersey’s Adam Larsson has 1 goal on 3 shots, for the highest shooting percentage of remaining players in the playoffs (33.3%), and Dwight King has LA’s best (25.0%), scoring 5 goals on 20 shots. LA has averaged slightly more shots on goal (32.9/30.4), but has given up slightly more shots against (29.0/27.6) on average.
Hockey ultimately comes down to scoring more goals than the other team, and the Kings have a slightly higher goals scored average (2.93/2.83) than the Devils; scoring 41 goals in 14 games to New Jersey’s 51 goals in 18 games. LA has also have let in significantly less goals per game on average (1.57/2.33) and in total (22/42).
Ilya Kovalchuk now leads the playoffs in points (18), but Dustin Brown is not far behind (16) and Anze Kopitar rounds out the Top 5 (15). Kovalchuk and Brown are tied with New Jersey’s Zack Parise and Travis Zajac for third in goals (7). Kovalchuk leads the playoffs in assists (11), while Brown, Kopitar, and LA’s Justin Williams all tie for second (9). Brown and Kopitar lead the playoffs in +/- (+13). Brown and New Jersey’s David Clarkson are tied for the playoffs lead in GWG with 3 apiece.
Interestingly, Martin Brodeur has tallied 4 assists through these playoffs, which is good enough for 88th overall in points. That ties him with LA’s Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene, and teammates Petr Sykora, Peter Harrold. It’s also better than 345 other players that are allowed to move outside of a 15’x28’ area every game; including LA’s Slava Voynov, Willie Mitchell, Jordan Nolan, Brad Richardson, Rob Scuderi, Alec Martinez, Colin Fraser, Kyle Clifford, and Andrei Loktionov, and New Jersey teammates Mark Fayne, Adam Larsson, Andy Greene, Anton Volchenkov, Jacob Joesefson, and Tim Sestito.
Special teams wise, New Jersey annihilates LA in power play percentage (18.2%/8.1%), and in power play goals scored (12 goals on 66 chances/6 goals on 74 chances). Ilya Kovalchuk leads the playoffs with 5 PPG, and LA’s best, Mike Richards, only has 2.
The Devils are outmatched on the penalty kill (74.2%/91.2%) though, giving up 16 goals on 62 penalty kill attempts, while LA has only given up 5 goals on 57. Being a man down almost doesn’t seem like a deficit for the Kings, as they’ve even managed to score 5 short-handed goals (Brown -2, Kopitar -2, Greene -1) and not give up any, while New Jersey has only mustered 1 (Salvador) and allowed 2.
The Kings have taken 80 penalties and received 196 PIM (including 4 majors and 3 misconducts) for an average of 14 PIM/G, while New Jersey has taken 77 penalties and 175 PIM (1 major and 2 misconducts), averaging 9.7 PIM/G. If averages hold true, it seems LA will have even less opportunity to improve on their one overbearing weakness. Their penalty kill prowess will have to remain impeccable if they are to continue defusing power plays, especially against a team that can score with the man advantage as often as New Jersey has. Dustin Penner has taken the bulk of LA’s PIM (26), and David Clarkson has the Devils’ highest total (20). Discipline would be in the best interest of both parties.
Advantage: New Jersey
When it comes to championship showdowns, Brodeur’s experience has resulted in 3 Stanley Cups and 2 Olympic gold medals — heads above all other individuals in this series. He also holds the NHL record for most shutouts in a Stanley Cup final (3 in 2003), amongst a slough of other NHL records and awards. Quick is only in his fifth NHL season to Brodeur’s more than 20; and Quick hasn’t won any awards or set any records to date, plus it’s only his third appearance in the playoffs. Quick is 26 years younger than the 40 year old Brodeur, though age hasn’t seemed to be a negative factor for the elder statesman… yet.
Teamwise, The Devils are 3-1 historically in the Stanley Cup Finals, while the Kings are 0-1. LA’s Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene have all appeared in a Stanley Cup final before… and lost. While winning the Stanley Cup is unquestionably every hockey player’s greatest motivation, players like those may be hungrier to not lose again, and to earn LA its first ever championship; whereas the satisfaction of winning is nothing new for the Devils, and may even be something that is taken for granted by them. Head to head this season, New Jersey won both meetings.
Advantage: New Jersey
By the six categories outlined, I have LA winning 3, New Jersey winning 2, and them drawing 1; thusly, by the numbers I have to give the Los Angeles Kings the nod for the Cup win. As early as June 6 and as late as June 13, we will see if the numbers game matters, or it doesn’t.
Predicted Stanley Cup Champions: LA Kings
After about four years of being on the receiving end of folly and failure, things are finally turning around for Dustin Penner.
Though it was indeed a big goal, Dustin Penner may have confused his OT series winning tally in game 5 of the Western Confernce final with one that won the Stanley Cup or Olympic gold medal – after a few well deserved fist-pumps, Penner yard-saled his stick, and then later in the handshake line felt his gloves no longer needed to be on his body either. Through the whole sequence of events from goal scored to the end of the handshake, Penner is the only guy without his stick and gloves.
But good for him really, and why not – this is a guy that has taken nothing but heat since leaving the Anaheim Ducks after winning the Cup in 2007, and had his commitment/ability/dedication/conditioning constantly called into question. He even threw his back out while eating a stack of pancakes, and got divorced shortly after.
That’s not to say any of it was undeserved (aside from the pancake incident), but it wasn’t until this year that he really got called out on the hockey end of his woes. Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi once suggested Penner may be a better fit for a rec league softball team, and Darryl Sutter called him horseshit and healthy scratched him in February. Whereas the criticism was purely vocal up until the Sutter era in LA, the Kings were the first to act on it and actually put the $4.25 million cap hit on ice for being awful. If tough love ever worked out, this may be the prime scenario. He’s about ¾ of the way from coming full circle though – only a Stanley Cup will bring him around the full 360.
In the meantime though, you chuck that gear Penner, you’ve earned it. Now just don’t go saying anything stupid….
Apparently Wayne Gretzky thinks this year’s version of the Kings is better than the squad he captained to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993, and has horses on LA and NYR to root for…. though being the diplomat he is, doesn’t count out New Jersey. He also makes a case for Darryl Sutter as a candidate for the Jack Adams. With the way he’s turned around guys like Dustin Penner and Dustin Brown (two guys primed for relocation at the trade deadline), it’s really not a stretch of a thought. I’ve posted before that I hope if a team Gretzky used to play for wins the Cup this year, he finds a way to get down to ice level and give the ol’ grail one last hoist. I’d say he’s earned it after all his post playing career follies. Full story: http://www.sportsnet.ca/fantasy/hockey/2012/05/24/hockey_hearsay/
In other absurdities, the LA Dodgers want the Kings to play in the Winter Classic game — at Dodger Stadium. In California. Apparently they have the technology…..
Celebrities are emerging as tweet-happy Kings fans…. of course, LA is no stranger to stars while they all film movies in town, and have the Lakers, Dodgers, Clippers, and Kings in town, but some are making their fandom known on Twitter too. Here’s some of my favorite celeb Kings tweets to date: Matthew Perry tweets about traffic issues while en route to Kings games, tweets pics from ice-level at Staples Center, offers congratulations, feels adulterous when attending games played between other teams, and even tries to rally support for Anze Kopitar to be on the cover of EA Sports’ NHL ’13 — amongst plenty of other pro-Kings tweets.
Rob Lowe hasn’t forgotten his roots as Dean Youngblood, and offered the team congrats from the fictional hockey prodigy he once played.
And perhaps my favorite thus far, Rainn Wilson (aka Dwight Schrute from “The Office”) inquired about attending a Kings game, and had LA’s Twitter respond by saying they’d deliver them to him encased in Jell-O. The terms were accepted, and Wilson even live-tweeted game stats during the game he attended, amongst other musings. And ironically he even crossed paths with Matthew Perry whilst enjoying the evening.
Will Ferrell has been known to make an appearance at the Staples Center for a Kings game as well.
What have I missed? What are you favorite celeb sightings at Kings games or Kings tweets you’ve read?
The Kings’ media department continues to rule…. not only does their Twitter account dominate, their webpage throws the occasional knock-out blow too. Here’s their follow up on kings.nhl.com to all the LA local TV stations screwing up everything there is to screw up about their team on TV: That’s gold, Jerry, gold.
It appears that since the LA Kings have been bad for so long, local Los Angeles TV stations have nearly no idea of what to do, say, or show on TV since they’ve become good at hockey again. It seems their graphic and sports departments had become so used to their irrelevance, they hadn’t felt the need to update the team’s displayed logo (or city location, or sport), or learn the proper pronounciations of the players it chooses to show highlights of. This trainwreck from Fox News 11 has the announcer talking about the the Kings’ game three victory over Phoenix, and saying something about some guys named Onjee Kopidoor, Brad Doty, and making references to the Kings having the ball and scoring touchdowns. To top it off, the highlight package concludes by showing the orange NHL logo that hasn’t been used in 7 years. The anchor, Liz Habib acknowleged her errors in a tweet, and then proceeded to apologize — whilst making another name pronounciation error (which she realized 6 hours later): Local media wasn’t even sure which Kings team was playing in town or even what sport they were competing in, as this graphic indicates a network displaying the NBA’s Sacramento Kings logo while referencing the LA hockey team in relation to the Lakers and Clippers. Hopefully this tweet from LA Kings twitter wasn’t their only tip-off: The goof led to a tweet and this televised apology from the network:
Fox 11 News also hasn’t felt the need to update the team’s logo since 1998, when the team last used this logo (glove bump to @vtecjunkie from Twitter for sending this one in to me):
And most recently, a new player named Jonathan Swift has joined the Kings, and is doing quite the job in goal:
In the meantime, the LA Lakers are doing their best to promote the Kings’ presence in town: Unfortunately, from the sounds of tweets from people inside the building, basketball fans aren’t quite as enthused (or aware) of their hockey playing counterparts:
Even in victory, KTLA can’t figure it out — the helicopter traffic reporter either thinks the Lakers won the Stanley Cup, or that the Lakers won the NBA title after being eliminated and the NBA Final not even being completed yet, or just doesn’t know what year it is. Either way, the Kings are the farthest LA sports team from his mind:
Hey New York Rangers fans, Vector Media is “dropping the puck” on NYR’s Eastern Conference Finals showdown with the New Jersey Devils with double-decker buses that will provide NY Ranger “Fan rides” around MSG – Times Sq 42nd street and back. Fans from all over the country will come in for a chance to receive a free ride on the double decker buses and show their team spirit by joining the traveling Pep Rally and cheering for the Rangers. The buses will have former Ranger players (TBA) and video crews who will be filming the action – throughout the game they will show clips of the fan rides on the giant screens in MSG. All New York Rangers fans are eligible to ride the buses! The bus rolls Wednesday, May 16th; Wednesday, May 23rd; and Sunday, May 27th; running from 4-8pm every night. Check out www.vectormedia.com for more info. And if you’re in the New York area, hop on!
Speaking of the Rangers, you need to check out DJ Steve Porter’s latest remix — “Next Question” featuring John Tortorella. Phenomenal. I love these.
I’ve been a big NHL and WWE fan since I was a kid, so it’s always fun for me when those worlds manage to collide with each other. The 05/14/12 edition of WWE Raw was filmed live from the Consol Energy Center, and a handful of Penguins players in attendance were not immune to public address from John Cena and John Laurinaitis:
This is not the first time the Penguins have crossed paths with WWE — in December 2011, CM Punk tweeted a pic from his meeting with Penguins perennial heel Matt Cooke, who signed a stick for him (perhaps still trying to get over as a good guy at the time).
I spotted this kid at the school I work at, who sure seems to resemble Dustin Byfuglien quite a bit, wouldn’t you say? Is it possible that in one of Big Buff’s drunken boating excursions, he managed to cross the Pacific Ocean and impregnate a Korean woman with his love child? #unsubstantiated #speculation
There are plenty of legit reasons that could make a person believe the Philadelphia Flyers should have won the Stanley Cup this year.
At the time of their elimination at the hands of the New Jersey Devils this year, the Flyers had the leading goals (tied with teammate Briere – 8), assists, and points scorer of the playoffs on their roster (Giroux 8g, 9a, 17pts); as well as second place in playoff assists, Jakub Voracek (8), second place in playoff points (Briere — 13), two players tied for the lead in playoff powerplay goals (Giroux, Hartnell – 3), one player tied for the lead in playoff short-handed goals (Giroux – 2), and two players tied for the lead in overtime goals (Briere, Voracek – 1). And in the second round, all this firepower was being directed at a goaltender that turned 40 years old during the series. Mind you, that old goalie is a four-time Vezina Trophy winner, holder of more than 20 goaltending records, and wears the best looking blocker in the league, but I digress.
As a team, the Flyers had the number one rated power play (35.7%), scoring on 15 of 42 opportunities – that’s 6 more man-advantage goals than the second place team – and were second in goals for; only behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, who they disposed of in the first round.
With two of five games in the series being decided by one goal, another two of five being won by two goals, and even in the lopsided game 2 that New Jersey won by three, you’d think offensive numbers like these would have been more influential, and in Philadelphia’s favor.
So what in the world went wrong?
Goaltending, right? It always comes down to goaltending with the Flyers, it had to be that again, right? Well, as it turns out, yeah it kinda was.
Remember when Philadelphia allegedly cured their goaltending ailment by signing Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9-year, $51 million contract that maxed out their salary cap allowance? How’d he do? Dead last in goals against amongst goaltenders in the playoffs, with 37 on 326 shots he faced. The second worse, Braden Holtby of Washington, faced more than 100 more shots (albeit playing in two more games) and let in 9 less goals. More importantly, Martin Brodeur let in 12 less. Out of 23 goalies recording statistics in the playoffs, Bryzgalov placed 19th in GAA (3.46) and save percentage (.887%), and Philly’s backup Sergei Bobrovsky finished 23rd in GAA (8.11) and 21st in save percentage (.722%) [to be fair, Bobrovsky only appeared in one game]; meanwhile, Brodeur is currently pitching a 2.05/.920%. Bryz was so bad, he’s not even being invited to play for Russia at the IIHF World Championships — a tournament where participating national teams clamber for all the available NHL talent they can acquire in an attempt to legitimize their team and an overall watered down talent pool that is somehow allowed to influence world rankings – holding fast with Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov as their starter, and backing him up with two KHL goaltenders, despite Bryzgalov’s availability [also to be fair, much of the NHL’s top talent turns down the opportunity to play in this tournament for various reasons, and is unsubstantiated that he would have gone, even if invited].
Additionally, it didn’t help having Claude Giroux, leader of basically every offensive statistical category in the playoffs, suspended for the series-deciding game five, after a head hit he dished out in game four. Some may argue though, that while facing a 3-1 series deficit to the Devils, the series may have already been over for the Flyers. The on-ice absence of Philadelphia’s captain Chris Pronger was unquestionably missed as well.
Some may argue still the Flyers felt the relocation of former captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who have both become substantial contributors to the success of the Los Angeles Kings, more so than the acquisition of Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and even Jaromir Jagr.
Whatever you want to pin it on, it’s back to the drawing board once again for the Flyers. They again bow out of the running for the Stanley Cup early, and now make it 37 years since their last Cup victory. At this point, after acquiring a highly touted goaltender and a bona fide offence, it’s got to feel like they gave all the right answers, and then someone changed the questions for that franchise. I can’t imagine it’s anything short of frustrating for all those involved. I wouldn’t blame Peter Laviolette is he felt like doing this with a real hammer. I regret having to say we’ve heard the last rendition of Mac Miller’s “Knock Knock” in the Flyers’ dressing room for another season.
[originally post for www.betonhockey.com on May 2, 2012]
A puck bucket full of hockey thoughts to tee up….
Four of the eight teams remaining in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs have direct ties to Wayne Gretzky – The Great One played 18 games with the St. Louis Blues in 1996, 234 games with the New York Rangers from 1996 – 1999, coached 4 seasons for the Phoenix Coyotes from 2005 – 2009, and played 539 games with the LA Kings from 1988-1996, captaining them to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance in franchise history. Had the Edmonton Oilers not been laughingly awful yet again this past season and lived up to hype and expectations, this could have been an all-Gretzky playoffs. Gretzky was known to have been vocal about wanting to win just one more Stanley Cup before he finished his career – is it that far-fetched to think that if one of those teams manages to win the Cup this year (there’s currently a 50% chance of that happening), Wayne might find a way to sneak on the ice and hoist the grail one last time?
Speaking of the Los Angeles Kings, they’re beginning to draw a lot of similarities to the underdog 2009-10 Montreal Canadiens – both entered the playoffs as the eighth seed of their conference, both eliminated the President’s Trophy winner of that season in the first round (Montreal beat Washington, Los Angeles ousted Vancouver), and both had/are having unexpected success in the second round (Montreal eliminating Pittsburgh, LA currently mauling St. Louis). The main difference though, is that it took Montreal 7 games to win both of those series – it only took the Kings 5 in the first round, and they are in the driver’s seat with a 2-0 series lead now. Of course, Montreal was beat in the third round, and LA’s playoff fate is not yet written. Los Angeles’ main criticism heading into this year’s playoffs was their inability to score – coming off a series sweep over St. Louis most recently, and with three players in the NHL’s top 25 playoff scorers (Brown, Kopitar, Richards), that ailment seems to be cured. Their goaltender remains a standout, and they’re shown their toughness is not an issue either, mixing it up frequently in both series. While both the Habs and Kings teams look similar, LA looks to be well on their way to faring far better.
A moment of discussion about a frame from game 2 of the Rangers/Capitals series…. The score was 3-1 Rangers with roughly 8 minutes to play in game 2, at which point Washington took a Too Many Men penalty. Caps’ coach Dale Hunter elected to have Alex Ovechkin serve that penalty. The announcer was quick to point out that Ovie’s serving of the penalty was a strategic move in hopes of springing him on a breakaway at the conclusion of the infraction, which is all well and good. My counterpoint to that is that on every team and every level I’ve played on, the player that generally went over to serve a bench minor penalty was an “expendable” player – maybe a fourth line or injured player, or just someone who wasn’t getting a lot of ice time for whatever reason that game, and it certainly wasn’t by any means because our coach had a strong confidence in their breakaway ability. So from that standpoint, it looks like Ovechkin may simply have been chosen for removal from participation in the game for 2 minutes when their team needed 2 goals really badly in a short amount of time if they hoped to win the game.
The chance of that breakaway opportunity actually occurring is relatively slim and more of a crapshoot; a hail mary play that is too low percentage to gamble on when the puck could just as likely be in a precarious scoring chance against Washington when the penalty expires. It seems like a positive spin a coach might pose to a psychologically fragile player that needs positive reinforcement to perform well so they don’t conclude that they are the team’s expendable player while sitting alone for two minutes or less. By the strategic logic, Hunter should have put Matt Hendricks, Washington’s shootout goal leader through the regular season, in the box for the opportunity at an uncontested run to the net.
It’s not like Hunter is afraid to clip Ovie’s wings if he’s not performing either— Ovechkin played 21 minutes in game 2 and was a -1 in the loss, while in game 3 he only saw 13 minutes of play (the least he’s ever played in a single playoff game), and scored the game winning goal. So the query point I want to raise is this: do you think Ovechkin serving that bench minor penalty was a strategic move for a chance at a scoring chance, or was it a knock towards his expendability and/or need to improve from coach Dale Hunter?
Further, the Caps should maybe consider making Ovechkin a dman if he’s only going to score from the point now.
The 2012 World Hockey Championships are nearly underway in Finland/Sweden, and the world’s “best” will be competing to improve their world rankings – Canada currently sits at fifth in the world, and will be looking to improve on that seeding with a decent roster, but one that does not include names like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Roberto Luongo, Joe Thornton, and many other big name players that are available, but have elected not to compete for reasons of varying legitimacy. With many national rosters in the same boat, is it even fair to place as much value on this tournament as there is? Is there no way that this tournament can be played out at a different time of year where all of the world’s best hockey players can compete against each other to determine the world’s best? Or is it possible that the world’s best hockey players simply aren’t taking the tournament seriously enough when they should be jumping at the chance to wear their county’s colors on the international stage?
[originally post for www.betonhockey.com April 23, 2012]
It only varies by a couple of weeks to a couple of months each year, but if there’s anything that functions like clockwork in the NHL, it may just be the Vancouver Canucks’ elimination from Stanley Cup contention.
As the Los Angeles Kings gradually got up on the Canucks in their quarterfinal series by one game, then two, then three, the question that kept resounding in my head was, “Are the Kings actually legit contenders this year, or are the Canucks total pretenders?”
Of course, I’ll subjectively take the opportunity to rag on the Canucks whenever I can, but objectively speaking, there’s no reason Vancouver should have been considered a pretender, or lost the series. As much as many mock the President’s Trophy for being meaningless in the long run (myself included), it’s certainly a poignant marker of how darn good you were all year. The Canucks had a good team this season, and their players had productive seasons too — both Sedin’s finished in the NHL’s top 30 for points, even with Daniel missing ten games; Hamhuis was 6th in league plus/minus at +29, Schneider finished eighth in save percentage with .937, and tenth in GAA with 1.96; Luongo finished 14th in wins with 31 – but when it came time to put up, they got shut up. After all, the first seed is supposed to have their way with the eighth seed that just managed to sneak into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth, right? Were they looking to far ahead – all the way to their return to the finals – without remembering the first step is the first round?
During the regular season, Vancouver finished 16 points ahead of LA in the standings, and scored 53 more goals than them (LA was second last in the league in Goals For), yet they only managed to split their season series against the Kings 2-2, and were outscored 7-9 by them in those four games. When it came around to playoff time, Vancouver only won 1 of 5 games, and was outscored 12-8, by a team that was synonymous with being unable to score all year. For a team that many thought Vancouver would walk all over (admittedly, myself included), LA kind of had their way with the Canucks all year – most importantly, when it counted.
So what went wrong? The biggest excuses are likely that Daniel Sedin wasn’t around the whole series, but his 2 assists in 2 games were still good enough for 5th in points on the team, ahead of 17 others who produced less. Henrik Sedin’s 5 points were equal to LA’s point leader, Dustin Brown. Two of Brown’s though were short-handed goals in the same game, and absolute daggers at that. All in, LA’s players recorded 30 points amongst themselves, while Vancouver only managed 23.
Goaltending-wise, it’s not like things were all that bad – Schneider’s 3 starts produced a 1.31 GAA and .960 save percentage (actually better than LA’s Jonathan Quick, who posted a 1.59 GAA and .953 save percentage), while Luongo was admittedly worse with a 3.59 GAA and .891; but each had an equal amount of losses to their credit. Quick faced 172 shots, while both Vancouver goalies combined only saw 165.
Many are going to gripe that there should have been a penalty on the play that saw Dan Hamhuis turn the puck over to Jarret Stoll, who buried the OT winner – even if that were valid, that’s one game, out of four lost. That’s why they’re seven game series. Some are even going to point at the extended layoffs between games 3,4, and 5 due to arena booking conflicts – truth be told, that was actually probably more of an advantage for Vancouver, who needed injured players like Daniel Sedin to heal and return. And some yet may just be embarrassed by the diving antics of guys like Ryan Kesler – well, you should be, that was just embarrassing.
But all excuses and kidding aside, now that the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared in this series, we’d be foolish not to consider the Los Angeles Kings a legit Stanley Cup contender – after all, they did just eliminate the league’s #1 seeded team. The Kings proved their toughness through the first round, and have big bodies that can cause a lot of damage against tougher teams. They’ve proved they can neutralize a strong offence with hot goaltending and a potent penalty kill, and their offence is clicking. The additions of Darryl Sutter, Jeff Carter, et al are beginning to make it look like LA’s owner Dean Lombardi knew what he was doing all along.
So if you can beat the best team in the league, who can’t you beat? It’s time the LA Kings are painted as a contender — we know now who the real pretenders were.