NHL Playoffs 2012: Are Los Angeles Kings Destined to Win Stanley Cup?

Andre Khatchaturian@AndreKhatchCorrespondent IIIApril 29, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 28: Jonathan Quick #32 and Slava Voynov #26 both of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate beating the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scottrade Center  on April 28, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Folks, we may see a No. 8 seed win the Stanley Cup for the first time in NHL history this season.

And with the Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks all eliminated in the first round, this means that the NHL will be seeing a ninth new champion in as many years unless the New Jersey Devils win it all.

So why wouldn't a team like the Los Angeles Kings be able to run the table and win the Stanley Cup? 

They certainly have the tools.

One shouldn't look at that No. 8 seed that's stuck on their name. That is merely a label.

The team has an unbelievable young goaltender in Jonathan Quick, who can steal any series. 

Their defense has been better than solid all year long. Guys like Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene have been stepping up to the occasion in the playoffs this year, unlike previous years when they wilted when it mattered most.

In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Kings have the most star power left on their team when it comes to scoring. Guys like Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll highlight the offense for the team.

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These are all guys who have a history of putting pucks in the back of the net. They just didn't do it this year in the regular season. On many occasions, they were bailed out by Quick, who is a candidate for the Vezina Trophy after a stellar 2011-12 season. 

In fact, coming into the playoffs the Kings had the fewest goals scored among the 16 playoff teams. 

That being said, the Kings averaged 3.04 goals per game in their last 23 games heading into the playoffs. Against Vancouver, they scored four goals on two separate occasions, and they're averaging 2.5 goals per game in six postseason games, which is slightly above their season average. 

Sure, they're not scoring at the Pittsburgh Penguins' or Philadelphia Flyers' pace, but they're getting some goal support now for Quick. 

As long as they're doing that, this Kings team is going to go pretty far. 

Unlike their Western Conference counterparts, the Kings do have scoring potential. A goalie like Quick can easily stifle an off-and-on offense like the ones the St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes have. Quick exemplified this notion in Game 1 when he survived a first-period onslaught and turned aside 28 shots for the win.

The Blues, Coyotes and even the Predators aren't going to be firing pucks constantly throughout a 60-minute game. They'll have some runs when they have momentum, but Quick has the ability to end them with his acrobatic saves. 

Nashville may be the toughest test for the Kings going to the Stanley Cup. They have a complete team and an elite goaltender in Pekka Rinne. The Kings' forwards will have to score more if they play the Preds in the next round, but once again, they have the names to do it. They just have to execute. 

It's not a guarantee, but the Kings definitely have the type of team that can play in the Stanley Cup Finals.

When looking at the possible Cup opponents, we see that the Eastern Conference is far weaker than the Western Conference. The only team that is built like a Stanley Cup champion in the East is the New York Rangers

New Jersey has an old goaltender and has several other aging pieces like Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias. They have their set of deficiencies that will hinder a Cup run. Philadelphia's goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has more holes than Swiss cheese as exemplified by his disastrous performance against Pittsburgh in the first round. Finally, Washington has a third-string goalie and an inconsistent team that could see a quick second-round exit at the hands of the Rangers.

The Rangers will be extremely difficult to beat if these two teams meet in a coast-to-coast showdown. Henrik Lundqvist is not an easy goalie to solve, and the Rangers have enough offensive firepower to get past Quick. 

But in a best-of-seven series, anything is possible. One hit, one save, or even one timeout can change the series. 

If Quick continues to play like he's been playing this season, you just never know.