The Los Angeles Kings are the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions. The Kings blasted the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in game six to win the NHL’s ultimate prize. This is the Kings first championship in their 45 year history. The Kings also became the first eighth seed in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup.
Steve Bernier got a five minute major for boarding and a ten minute game misconduct penalty for a hit on Rob Scuderi. It was a brutal hit by Bernier who nailed Scuderi in the back, right between the numbers, sending him face first into the boards. It was a major penalty, not only causing Bernier to be ejected, but also allowing the Kings the opportunity to score as many times as they could in five minutes. The penalty led to three Kings power play goals that just about ended the game in the first period.
Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smyth trophy for playoff MVP. In the playoffs, Quick went 16-4 with a 1.41 goals against average and a .946 save percentage. He truly was the difference maker for the Kings all postseason. Quick just may have taken his place as the NHL’s top goalie for the foreseeable future.
I said after game five that these teams are consistent. If not for a late empty net goal in game four, four of the five games would have had final scores of 2-1. We do know one thing that holds true for all five games so far – first team to two wins. That held up in game six.
I’ve said it before, but this truly was one of the all-time great playoff runs in professional sports. The Kings were the eighth seed in the Western Conference. To get to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Kings defeated the West’s first seed, and holders of the NHL’s best record, Vancouver Canucks in five games. In round two, the Kings swept the second seeded St. Louis Blues. In the Conference Finals, the Kings defeated the third seeded Phoenix Coyotes in five games. The Kings were an astonishing 12-2 en route to the Stanley Cup Finals. Amazing for any team, never mind an eighth seeded team who just ran through the conference’s top three seeds. Then in the Finals, the Kings defeated the Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Devils in six for an overall playoff record of 16-4, second only to the 1988 Edmonton Oilers (16-2).
The Kings end the playoffs with a 10-1 road record. The Kings had won ten straight playoff road games, twelve dating back to last season, before dropping game five at New Jersey. It was a historic run that will not easily be matched never mind broken. It seemed like destiny for the Kings to win the cup on the road considering their amazing run. Now that it is all said and done, it only seems fitting that the Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup at home, bringing their fan bases 45 years of waiting to an end.
It is hard to believe this team was 13-12-4 and firing their head coach during the regular season. Bringing in Darryl Sutter was huge. The Kings would go 25-13-11 under Sutter. It often seems like coaches have less of an effect in hockey than they do in other sports. It is hard to argue that Sutter did not make a difference to this club.
I predicted the Kings would win the series 4-2, but I never felt like that prediction would come true until the Kings went up 4-0 in the second period. When the Kings jumped out to a 3-0 series lead, I didn’t think the Devils would live to see a game six. After winning game four, I figured the Kings would go on the road, where they were undefeated, and close out the series in five. After dropping their first road game, I started to wonder if the Kings were in trouble. Sure, they were going home, but the momentum seemed to have shifted. It is not that often we can feel so wrong about a prediction that ended up being correct, but this was one of those occasions.
As for the future, I don’t think this is a fluke win by a hot team. The Kings are young and have many key players coming back to the squad next year. The nucleus of the Kings is young with Jonathan Quick (26), Dustin Brown (27), Anze Kopitar (24), and Drew Doughty (22). Add in Dustin Penner (29), Mike Richards (27), Jeff Carter (27), Jarrett Stoll (29), Dwight King (22), Trevor Lewis (25), Brad Richardson (27), Colin Fraser (27), Jordan Nolan (22), Slava Voynow (22), Matt Greene (29), and Alec Martinez (24) and the Kings future is very, very bright.
Congratulations to the Los Angeles Kings on winning the Stanley Cup!