The Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 last night by a score of 6-1 to earn the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup.
The Kings entered the league in 1968 during the first of many expansions by the NHL and have sat idly by watching other teams hoist the cup and call themselves champions.
Now it’s Los Angeles’ turn to revel in that glory after an unprecedented and dominant playoff run, becoming the first 8th seeded team to ever to win a championship in the NHL.
Kings Jump On Devils Quickly in Decisive Game 6
Jonathan Quick was named playoff MVP after putting up a ridiculous stat line during this year’s post-season.
His record of 16-4 was exceptional and he allowed only 29 goals during those games, which is one goal less than Penguins allowed in their series against Philadelphia, to put that in perspective. His save % of 0.946 and 3 shutouts didn’t hurt his bid for the Conn Smythe either.
Game 6 turned quickly in the favour of the Kings.
Midway through the 1st period Steve Bernier was given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for a vicious hit from behind on defenseman Rob Scuderi. Scuderi, known as one of the tougher players in the league, stayed down on the ice bloodied and in obvious pain behind his own net. He would, however, eventually return to the game.
The Kings’ usually anemic power-play went to work netting three goals from Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Trevor Lewis. The Devils were never able to recover from the deficit, not surprisingly considering Quick hasn’t allowed more than three goals all playoffs.
Carter put the proverbial nail in the coffin just under two minutes into the 2nd period with his second goal of the game, increasing the Kings’ lead 4-0. New Jersey would proceed to take another two 10-minute misconducts, sending Ryan Carter and David Clarkson off. It was only a matter of time before the sold out Staples Center would celebrate their team’s first ever Cup.
The longer the game went on the more and more obvious it was that the Kings would be victors, taking it convincingly 6-1, the most goals they’ve scored in a game these entire playoffs.
From 8 Seed to Dominant Champion
The Kings far and away deserved the series win. It’s rare that a team can be so dominant from start to finish against an elite group of hockey teams.
In this year’s playoffs they set a record for consecutive road wins with 10, now 12 total dating back to last season. They defeated the 1st, 2nd and 3rd seeds in the Western Conference, and as was mentioned before became the first ever eighth seed to engrave their names on Lord Stanley’s Mug.
It was the 1st cup win for Darryl Sutter as a coach, who was brought in mid-season to replace Terry Murray after a lackluster start to the season. It took a while for the team to gel and buy into his system, but after they did they were an unstoppable force and will continue to be for years to come. Sutter had his chance in 2004 in Calgary, but he came up just short losing out to Tampa Bay.
General Manager Dean Lombardi made some moves that were questioned by many hockey experts.
Trading prospect Brayden Schenn and power forward Wayne Simmonds for Mike Richards raised a few eyebrows. Darryl Sutter didn’t appear to be the answer initially and few thought that Jeff Carter was the missing piece that would put them over the top. But the Kings are now Stanley Cup champions and Lombardi looks like a genius.
They also have a core group of stars that will be under contract for many years and should be perennial contenders.
It was really a great story for the club from start to finish. The Kings struggled to score goals all season and finished 2nd to last in that category. But they were playing playoff-level hockey for the month before the post-season started and went on a run that may never be replicated. They rode one of the hottest goalies in playoff history and played defensive-minded hockey to a T, while counting on an aggressive forecheck to create scoring opportunities.
What a great Cinderella story for the ages. One that couldn’t have been scripted any better.