For the first time in eight years the Los Angeles Kings are back in the hunt for Lord Stanleys Cup. The last attempt they had at a cup was in 1993. Can the Kings defy the odds and make it back to the big dance after a seventeen year absence from the cup finals?
Even if they do not, Dean Lombardi has created, patiently, a cup contending team for years to come with the roster that is currently constructed. The kids truly are alright.
It’s been a season that saw the Kings earn the label “cardiac”. This is due, much in part, to the fact that the Kings found ways to overcome adversity quite often during games this year. Trailing time and time again, this Kings team had the “never say die” type attitude and were able to generate third period come backs that helped push them forward; now a Western Conference playoff team.
It seems as if the saying “dark horse” is taken lightly these days.
The #3 seeded Vancouver Canucks only finished third due to divisional situations, in which they won their division yet had less points then the Phoenix Coyotes and only finished with two more points then their playoff coutnerpart, the Los Angeles Kings. Over the course of the season, the Canucks and Kings played head to head four times. The problem, the Canucks won three of the four.
Jonathan Quick was charged with all three losses while Jonathan Bernier was between the pipes on April 1st, the final meeting between the two teams which saw the Kings put eight pucks passed Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo in an 8-3 victory.
This is the playoffs and we can erase all regular season situations.
However, of the Kings main contributors, Alex Frolov, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar are all appearing in their first playoff series. Add to that list Wayne Simmonds, Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty as well as the young Jon Quick and the rest of the Kings roster.
Now, the veterans of the club, Michal Handzus, Sean O’Donnell, Ryan Smyth, Justin Williams, Rob Scuderi and Fredrik Modin have all been a part of the playoffs. Of those veterans, Williams, O’Donnell, Modin and Scuderi all own Stanley Cup rings.
It comes down to the veterans taking control and leading the youth movement of LA into the second round.
But before we look ahead we have to realize what is in store right now.
The Canucks, as a whole, scored 272 goals this season. Those numbers were good for second best in the NHL. The Kings scored 241 placing them seventh in the league.
In goals against, the Cancuks surrendered 222 goals to the Kings 219. A more balanced match up on the defensive end of this situation.
However, like stated previously, none of that matters anymore.
What matters this evening is who shows up and who decides to lose focus on what is at stake.
About the Author: Anthony Curatolo is a 31 y/o New Yorker with a passion for the game that takes him into a different category then the regular run of the mill fan. He has an intense, creative, witty style that will either have you love him or hate him within the first paragraph you read from one of his writings. Growing up in a hockey world (his father was raised in Montreal, and his father brought that passion with him into the States) was a blessing in disguise for Anthony. Hockey has become more then a passion and infatuation for, and he hopes to one day have a career within the sport. Picked up originally by the Checking Line (from guest blogs written for HockeyBuzz), Anthony began blogging on a daily basis. When his original site, the checking line, went down the writing passion started to fall off. A few years later, Crash the Crease was born and Anthony was approached and asked to write for them. Since that time (August '08), Anthony has become a panel member on the websites Sunday talk show, as well as branching off and forming 1/3 of the talk show team called "The Hockey Guys!" Now Anthony takes his mind and his writings to the next level as he begins his journey with Hockey Independent and asks that there are many that join him. The Kings are the team, the style is Independent and the game is Hockey - there is nothing better in the universe. Although his pride bleeds for the Orange and Black (yes folks, the Philadelphia Flyers) Anthony is also a FAN of the game, and has knowledge for all 30 teams within the league coming from his true, pure love for the sport in it's entirety. As a voice of a fan for the fans (as we all know is the "Crash the Crease" and "The Hockey Guys" slogans) there will be debate, controversy, praise and love all combined into one giant thing - blogs by Anthony.