Ranking the Top Moments of 2014 for the Los Angeles Kings
For the Los Angeles Kings, it was a year to remember for all the right reasons on the ice. The Kings were Stanley Cup champions again, with a nearly identical lineup to that of the 2011-12 champs.
How they got there was unforgettable, not just for fans of the team, but all hockey fans. The Kings fought back in the playoffs, stepped up at crucial times and had a little luck on their side as they made their way to the Stanley Cup Final. Many of the top moments came from this playoff run as nothing else could compare.
These are the best moments of 2014 for the Kings.
L.A. players picked up three major awards after the 2013-14 campaign wrapped up. Upon the season's completion, Jonathan Quick won the William M. Jennings Trophy, and upon the completion of the playoffs, Justin Williams was honored with the Conn Smythe Trophy.
But best of all was Dustin Brown being recognized with the Mark Messier Leadership Award for his leadership role both on and off the ice. Brown has been involved in numerous charitable endeavors throughout his NHL career. This comes in as No. 5 on the Kings' best moments list.
4. Marian Gaborik Trade
Not unlike Jeff Carter two years earlier, L.A. general manager Dean Lombardi had his eye on offense when he made the move to acquire Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 5, 2014.
The Kings sent Matt Frattin, a second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick to Columbus for the Slovakian sniper.
It didn't take long for Gaborik to develop chemistry with Anze Kopitar and have an impact. He recorded five goals and 11 assists for 16 points in 19 games. His production continued into the postseason, where he had an impressive 14 goals and eight assists for 22 points in 26 games.
Gaborik was one of the keys throughout the playoff run.
3. The Comeback
The Kings lost the first three games of their first-round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks: Game 1 by a score of 6-3, Game 2 7-2 and Game 3 in overtime, 4-3.
L.A. came storming back, dominating the next four games. The Sharks fell apart at both ends of the rink, while Jonathan Quick became, well, Jonathan Quick again.
The Kings won Games 4-6 by three goals each. They saved the best for Game 7, winning 5-1 in San Jose after giving up the first goal. The great moment came as the final horn sounded and the Kings made one of the most astounding comebacks in NHL history official.
2. Blackhawks Down
Some call it one of the most exciting playoff series of an era and some of the best hockey played in years. The 2013-14 Western Conference Final between the Kings and Chicago Blackhawks won't be forgotten by fans of the two squads or fans of hockey in general.
L.A. held a 3-1 series lead, but Chicago took Game 5 in double overtime before forcing Game 7 with a 4-3 win in Game 6. Game 7 was a classic. The Kings never led in regulation but trailed by two just once, for about eight minutes in the first period.
The game went to overtime tied 4-4, and in OT, it was Alec Martinez who became the hero. Just over five minutes into the extra frame, he won the game with a shot from the point. It gave the Kings three Game 7 road wins in one postseason, the first time that's been accomplished in NHL history.
1. The Stanley Cup
No. 1 is obvious, as the Los Angeles Kings captured their second Stanley Cup in franchise history and second in three years.
It was a remarkable run to get to the Final, perhaps one of the greatest of all time. But the best moment was saved for overtime in Game 5 rather than Game 7 like the previous three rounds.
The Kings were leading the series 3-1 in the Final against the New York Rangers and were tied 2-2 in overtime of Game 5 when the second-best moment in Kings history occurred. Alec Martinez put a rebound past Henrik Lundqvist, sealing the Kings' Cup win.