Finally, NHL is sport of Kings
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org June 11, 2012 10:33PM
STANLEY CUP FINALS
KINGS VS. DEVILS
Kings win series 4-2
G1: Kings 2, at Devils 1 (OT)
G2: Kings 2, at Devils 1 (OT)
G3: at Kings 4, Devils 0
G4: Devils 3, at Kings 1
G5: at Devils 2, Kings 1
G6: at Kings 6, Devils 1
Updated: July 13, 2012 6:21AM
LOS ANGELES — At last, the coronation took place.
It took the Los Angeles Kings three attempts against the New Jersey Devils, but for the first time in their 45-year existence, they truly reign over the NHL after a resounding 6-1 victory Monday in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals at Staples Center.
All that promise the Kings were said to have with Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick finally bore fruit as general manager Dean Lombardi’s bold moves clicked.
“Creating a bond with the guys for the whole year and finally winning it over such a long period of time, this is just huge,” Doughty said.
It’s that bond that should worry the West.
The Kings join the upper echelon that many think still consists of the Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks. The problem for everyone, though, is the 2012 Cup could be the start of something significant for L.A.
“It’s a feeling you’re going to chase for the rest of your career,” Brown said.
Brown, Jeff Carter (two goals) and Trevor Lewis (two goals) all scored during a five-minute power play in the first period after winger Steve Bernier committed one of the biggest penalties in playoff history by getting ejected for boarding defenseman Rob Scuderi.
At the other end, Quick stopped 17 of 18 shots, but it was his outstanding performances throughout the postseason that earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Two years ago, it was widely thought that the Hawks could be on their way to a dynasty after winning the Cup. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook would only get better. Marian Hossa would continue to be his usual Hall of Fame self, and whoever was in goal really didn’t matter.
Two years later, the closest they’ve gotten to it since then are the texts they’ve sent to center Colin Fraser, who became the first Cup-winning ex-Hawk to do it again.
“It’s surreal,” Fraser said. “Guys play 25 years and never get to do it. I’ve done it twice in four years. I’m very fortunate.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter, a former Hawks coach and player, also hoisted the Cup for the first time in his long career.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Sutter, who has pulled all the right strings since taking over in December. “I was right about what type of players these guys were.”
The young and talented Hawks are far from the team others should be measured against. They have been replaced by the young and talented Kings with Quick in net, Brown, Kopitar, Carter, Mike Richards and Justin Williams up front and an underrated defensive corps led by Doughty that will remain intact. Their only offseason priority is re-signing third-line center Jarret Stoll.
As good as the Hawks are, the Kings have what they don’t: size, legitimate depth at center and a top-tier goalie. Together, they play a smothering defensive scheme. All of which was on display in Game 6 and throughout the playoffs.
The Kings’ biggest hurdle might be themselves. After taking a 3-0 series lead, they admitted they were more focused on partying with the Cup than actually winning it as the Devils rallied behind future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur (19 saves). Adam Henrique had the Devils’ lone goal.
But they can party now after a dominating 16-4 run this postseason that saw them beat three division champs as an eighth seed.
And more could come.
“The first thing you think about as a coach — these guys are all young enough,” Sutter said. “They’ve got to try it again.”