NHL Playoffs 2012: Will Anyone Slow Down the Los Angeles Kings?
They're the hottest team in the NHL, and they chose the most opportune time to catch fire.
The Los Angeles Kings are 7-1 in this year's playoffs. After bulldozing past the Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks in five games, the Kings are on the verge of sweeping the St. Louis Blues.
For the first time since the post-Magic Johnson era when Wayne Gretzky was lighting it up at the Forum in Inglewood, Los Angeles sports fans have a better chance of seeing their hockey team win a title than the Los Angeles Lakers.
And this is definitely something to get excited about.
The Kings have looked untouchable.
They're physical, they have unbelievable goaltending, and for the first time all season, they're starting to score goals.
Coming into the playoffs, everyone knew the Kings had great goaltending with Jonathan Quick. If they were going to make any kind of run in the playoffs, he was going to have to stand on his hand and play superb hockey.
However, the Kings are playing more like the team everyone expected them to play like before the season started. Their acquisition of Mike Richards last summer was supposed to provide a scoring punch to a team that has been known more for their defense.
This was supposed to propel them to Stanley Cup-contender status.
But their offense never clicked until late in the season. The acquisition of Jeff Carter definitely helped, as it gave the Kings two dangerous lines they can roll out during games.
Their goal totals went up in the last month of the season, and it's carried on to the playoffs.
The Kings may be a No. 8 seed, but that's probably one of the biggest misnomers in NHL history. They're one of the most dangerous teams in this year's playoffs. The only question surrounding this team was if they were ever going to be able to put the puck in the net.
Now that they've mastered that (hey, even Dwight King scored on Thursday night), the Kings are a legitimate threat to win the Stanley Cup.
It's not just the scoring, though.
They have an all around excellent team in almost every facet of the game. We already know how tremendous their defense and goaltending has been, but they've added a physical dynamic to their game.
They're a chippy team and they showed this in two instances on Thursday night against St. Louis in Game 3.
When Mike Richards drops his gloves to fight in a Stanley Cup Playoff game, it exemplifies the determination this team possesses to succeed. A huge hit by Dustin Brown in the game also showed this. They're banging their bodies around, and this is exactly what a team needs to do if they want to win the Stanley Cup. They're making it extremely difficult for other teams to play against them. They're sucking away confidence from pompous teams.
It's important to note that Jeff Carter and Mike Richards both have Stanley Cup experience, too. They both played in the 2010 Stanley Cup final with the Philadelphia Flyers. They've been here before. They know what it takes to win these games. For that, they're a major reason why the Kings have been doing so well in this year's playoffs.
Finally, the road to the Cup couldn't be any more friendly for the Kings. It sure seems like the hard work is behind them. Obviously there is no easy game in the NHL, but the Kings wouldn't mind playing the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Finals.
It would be a lot better than playing the Detroit Red Wings or the Vancouver Canucks, right?
They just need to continue playing the way they've been playing, and Los Angeles sports fans will be seeing a sheet of ice for once, rather than a hardwood floor, come this June at Staples Center.
Who would've thought that this would be the case?
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