By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
How did the L.A. Kings, who barely made the playoffs in eighth spot, make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals? They came in as the complete underdogs and are now the powerhouse team in the West. Ever since head coach Darryl Sutter replaced former head coach Terry Murray back in December the Kings have been able to turn their ship around into the right direction. Yes, everything is looking in their favour to win the Stanley Cup so now the real question is whether or not they can thread the needle and finish off what they started.
In the first round of the playoffs the Kings were up against the Vancouver Canucks. A team that had just captured their second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy and a team that had just come off a year where they lost in game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins. It wasn’t hard to see that the Canucks were the favourites against the Kings. Hungrier than ever. However, right off the bat the Kings came out and dominated, winning the first three games and then finishing the Canucks off in game five, taking the series four games to one. A shocker, to say the least. All of Vancouver was stunned and devastated that they were knocked out so early, especially to a team like L.A.
The Kings continued to take that underdog status and roll with it against the number-two seeded team in the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues. After four games though, it was all over. L.A. steam rolled the Blues in a sweep and advanced to the Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Coyotes.
[quote style=”boxed”]They’re not scoring a whole lot, but they’re not getting scored on either. Jonathan Quick has been lights out, posting a 1.49 GAA and a .946% save percentage, with a lot of credit having to go toward goaltending coach and New Westminster resident Bill Ranford.[/quote]
A strange set of opponents to say the least. Who would have guessed that the Coyotes and Kings would be duking it out to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Two teams that flew under the radar over the course of the regular season.
Well, the Coyotes were just like the rest of them—no match for the Kings. All it took was five games. And now the Kings are making an appearance in the Finals—against the New Jersey Devils—for the first time since 1993 when they lost to the Montreal Canadiens.
In the 15 games that they’ve played in the post-season the Kings have a total of 43 goals. That’s a 2.87 goals for per game average. They have 13 wins and only two losses, a total of 23 goals against making that an average of a 1.53 goals against average.
They’re not scoring a whole lot, but they’re not getting scored on either. Jonathan Quick has been lights out, posting a 1.49 GAA and a .946% save percentage, with a lot of credit having to go toward goaltending coach and New Westminster resident Bill Ranford.
So with all of that said, what is there secret? What gives? How does a team all of a sudden absolutely dominate in the playoffs?
It could be the case of exceptional goaltending, or the defensive mind-set that they seem to have, preying off their opponents’ mistakes. But for a team to dominate like they have, it has to be much more than that.
It all comes down to discipline. And the Kings of L.A. have plenty of it. The Devils have experience and three Stanley Cups to boot in the past two decades, but they’re now the underdogs. A familiar status to the Kings who are now looking from the other side of the spectrum—as the favourites to win the Holy Grail.