Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup Playoffs – NHL HockeyFriday, May 18, 2012 16:58
The Los Angeles Kings are dominating the Stanley Cup Playoffs like few teams ever have; are they truly a team of destiny?
Team of Destiny
The word is thrown around far too lightly by religious zealots, political ideologues and, as it turns out, the sporting media/public.
That having been said, it sure seems right now that the Los Angeles Kings are a team of destiny.
The numbers are astounding. After limping into the Stanley Cup Playoffs–blowing a chance at the division title and #3 seed (falling all the way to #8)–the Kings are now 11-1 in the postseason, including a remarkable 7-0 on the road: 4-1 over the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks; a 4-0 sweep of the #2 St. Louis Blues; and currently 3-0 over the #3 Phoenix Coyotes.
And if the final five minutes of last night’s game were indicative of the entire affair, the game wasn’t even as close as the 2-1 store would imply. I only caught those last five, and the Kings were absolutely dominating, playing some of the best hockey I have ever seen. Even with a 2-1 score with which the Kings could have been content to play defensive puck, LA was relentless in its attack, driving, pushing, controlling the flow and every element of the game. Phoenix appeared utterly discombobulated, with no answer for the Kings attack.
The hockey equivalent of baseball’s “pitching wins the postseason” is riding a hot goalie, and no one is hotter than the aptly named Jonathan Quick. No disrespect to the rest of the Kings, but the team begins and ends with Quick, who has been brilliant in goal. Even when Quick has been off his game, he’s only dropped down to merely good, otherwise twisting, contorting and somehow miraculously putting some body part in front of almost every shot fired his way. His overall save percentage? .951, best of any goalie in the playoffs.
Doesn’t hurt, of course, that Quick has faced half the shots of his counterpart on the Coyotes, Mike Smith, and that is a credit to the unrelenting Kings offense. Captain Dustin Brown has been exactly the leader a team would want and expect in its captain, with 15 points in the playoffs to date (7 goals, 8 assists). If not for Quick, Brown would be the unquestionable MVP; as it is…toss-up. More importantly, however, the offense has been a team effort: 14 goals from the first line, 9 from the second, 8 from the third–incredible balance.
The eye-popping 7-0 road record–already tying an NHL record–bares special notice. As the #8 seed, the Kings have started every series on the road–and come out with a 2-0 lead every time. Besides stealing away home ice advantage and returning to LA halfway towards the series goal without even dropping a puck in front of the home crowd, the Kings’ road success has to be absolutely demoralizing for their opponents.
The 1988 Edmonton Oilers hold the best ever run to the Stanley Cup at 16-2, an .888 winning percentage. Right now the Kings are at .917. Even if they don’t topple Gretzky and company’s record, the way the Kings are playing, they sure appear to be a team of destiny in a way few truly are.
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