NHL Playoffs 2012: Can the LA Kings Become the Most Dominant Playoff Team Ever?

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IMay 19, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Members of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate the 2-1 victory against the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Three of the Western Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on May 17, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings have steamrolled their way through the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. The eighth seeded Kings defeated the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks in five games, before sweeping the St. Louis Blues, the No. 2 seed, in four games.

The Kings currently hold a 3-0 series lead over the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Final. At 11-1, the Kings are on pace to become one of the most dominant playoff teams ever, at least in terms of wins and losses.

With that said, it’s important to consider the teams that the Kings will be compared to. These are teams who have dominated the playoffs during different eras of NHL history, under a variety of playoff formats.

Since 1927, only NHL teams have competed for the Stanley Cup. In that time only three teams have managed to win every single playoff game en route to hoisting the Cup.

The 1929 Boston Bruins went 5-0, the 1952 Detroit Red Wings went 8-0 and the 1960 Montreal Canadiens went 8-0.

There are a number of champions who lost only one game during their playoff run, which is where the Kings stand now. Most came prior to the 1967-68 expansion, and therefore they only had to win eight games to lift the Stanley Cup. This makes them less dominant than the unbeaten teams listed above.

However, the 1968 and 1976 Montreal Canadiens each compiled 12-1 records on their way to winning the Stanley Cup.

Starting in the 1987 postseason, the NHL changed its first-round series from a best-of-five, to a best-of-seven format. This meant the Stanley Cup champion would be required to win 16 games, a format that stands to this day.

1987:  Center Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers looks on during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell  /Allsport
Mike Powell/Getty Images

The most dominant playoff team of this era is the 1988 Edmonton Oilers. As the No. 2 seed in the Smythe Division, the Oilers lost only two playoff games en route to their fourth Stanley Cup championship.

However, there is one catch to the 1988 Oilers 16-2 record. Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final was tied 3-3 when it was cancelled due to a power failure at the Boston Garden, so a fifth game was required.

Whether you give the 1988 Oilers a 16-2 or 16-2-1 record, they are still one of, if not the most, dominant playoff team of all time.

Where the Los Angeles Kings’ playoff run will rank has yet to be determined.

Although, should they win the rest of their playoff games and finish 16-1, the 2012 Los Angeles Kings will be remembered as a more dominant playoff team than the 1988 Oilers.

It may seem very possible right now, but many teams have bolted through the first three rounds before losing in the final. For example, the 1995 Detroit Red Wings were 12-2 before being swept by the New Jersey Devils in the final. The 2008 Pittsburgh Penguins were also 12-2 before losing to the Detroit Red Wings in six games.

Can the Kings become the most dominant playoff team of all-time? Yes, but history says it’s unlikely.

So what happens if the Kings were to win the Stanley Cup with a record of say, 16-4?

There are many teams who have won the Stanley Cup with a record better than 16-4, but none have done it in the manner that the Kings potentially could.

The Kings are on the verge of sweeping the No. 3 seed, and have already eliminated the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.

Regardless of their playoff record, if the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup, they should be remembered as one of the most intriguing, unique and unlikely champions in NHL history.  


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