Can We Just Give the Stanley Cup to Los Angeles Now?
The Los Angeles Kings have knocked off the number one seed, and are one game away from knocking off the number two seed in typical Cinderella fashion, but nobody really believed that this was an eighth place team to begin with. They finished the season with 95 points (putting them in eighth) but they were only one win away from catching Phoenix and finishing in third. To L.A. though, it matters not, as they are ready to take on any opponent thrown their way. The Kings are hungry. They aren’t just winning games, they’re dominating them! They are beating teams physically, on the scoreboard, and at every end of the ice.
Quick has been lights out, stopping everything that comes his way, and their D has been stellar in front of him. All four lines are taking the body hard, and doing their part offensively. Their fearless captain is making a strong case for MVP, hitting everything in sight, rallying the troops, and putting the puck in the net. And they are just simply out-working the other teams and consistently coming up with the puck.
As a team they are 7-1, and that’s against the top two teams in the west. Their goals against per game is a stingy 1.57, while their goals for is a steady 2.86. Their only blemish would be their power play, which is at a measly 9.5%. But they make it up for that with their stellar PK, which is at 91.4%. Also, they have surrendered three goals while shorthanded, but have somehow managed to score four, meaning they are a plus one on the penalty kill.
So can anyone stop them?
St. Louis- I thought St. Louis might give them problems seeing as how they match up so well against each other. But even then, L.A. did dominate the season series. Which is similar to the way they are dominating them now.
Nashville and Phoenix- These teams play a similar style, so I think the matchup and result against L.A. would be the same regardless of who wins between them. Both of these teams pride themselves on being very stingy on the back-end with defensive-minded styles and premium goaltending, but so does L.A. But the Kings are so much more than that; quick transitions, multiple threats, and physical domination are in their genetics.
Washington- Holtby has played amazingly well, but he’s not Patrick Roy, and he’s not going to take this team all the way. The Caps do have the guns to hang with the Kings, but not when those guns are bruised and battered.
New Jersey- Their elite (but old) goaltender could stand tall. And I love Jersey’s speed and puck possession, but again the physicality plays a role. They do have a game-breaker in Kovalchuk, but he can’t rile the troops and impact the game the way Brown can.
Philadelphia- The Flyers has a warrior as its captain. After watching Giroux fire up his team by coming out jacked and determined to win against Pittsburgh, I thought they were the team that cold possibly stop L.A. That, and they have the physicality, the offensive depth, and they also score on transitions and on the PK. Their only downfall is their goaltending. But if they don’t find that energy level they had in the first series, they won’t even get a chance to try to beat L.A.
New York- I think the task falls to the Rangers, and even then they might be out-manned. The only goaltender that Quick might take a backseat to is Henrik Lundqvist. I also think the Rangers have better defensive pairings. They also proved the other night that they can log a ton of minutes and continue playing at an elite level. The Rangers have a ton of speed, scoring, and a legitimate leader and game-breaker in Brad Richards. They can also handle the body a little better than most, but I think over a seven game series L.A. will simply wear them down.
So after breaking it down with each remaining team, I still think it’s L.A.’s cup to lose. I mean this is hockey and anything can happen, but I’m pretty sure the Stanley Cup is going BACK to California!
…and that is the last word.