- Monday, June 4, 2012 9:13 PM
- Written By: Josh Marks
Tonight at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, the black-and-silver clad Kings dominated the New Jersey Devils 4-0 to put the franchise one game away from their first ever Stanley Cup with a commanding 3-0 series lead.
If the Kings hoist the Cup on Wednesday, there is no doubt 26-year-old goalie Jonathan Quick will be awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. Quick is putting together one of the greatest netminding performances in NHL history. And so many of his teammates have taken their game to another level during the Finals. Head coach Darryl Sutter took over mid-season when General Manager Dean Lombardi fired Terry Murray. Sutter has this No. 8 seed team playing with poise, confidence and a swagger that has them seem effortless and methodical in their domination of the top three Western Conference seeds in the Canucks, Blues, Coyotes and now the Devils.
If Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, and former Flyers Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were not household names before this playoff run, they are Hollywood stars now. With Kobe Bryant and the Lakers out of the playoffs, the Kings are the toast of Tinseltown as they should be. The City of Angels is enamored with its hockey team and there is no doubt that if the Kings hang on for the Cup and hold that parade downtown, the entertainment capital of the world will put on a production like there has never been seen before in NHL history.
There hasn't been this excitement surrounding the Kings since 1982's Miracle on Manchester at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, when L.A. mounted the largest comeback in NHL playoff history after being down 5-0 to Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers. The Kings won the game 6-5 in overtime. And who can forget when Gretzky, who was in attendance tonight with his buddy Mark Messier and dropped the ceremonial puck, put Southern California on the hockey map when he was traded in 1988. Gretzky took the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993 when they lost to Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens.
Who could have predicted that the Kings would be one win from the Cup all these years after the late Hamilton, Ontario native Jack Kent Cooke was awarded the expansion franchise in 1966 (Cooke also owned the Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Lakers and built the Forum). I lived in the Los Angeles area for nine years and having attended many games at the Staples Center the past several years, I certainly couldn't have predicted this magical playoff run. The Kings always seemed to be missing those intangibles that separate good teams from championship teams. The Devils certainly know what that is given their glorious Stanley Cup-winning history.
I was living in Southern California when the hated cross-town rival Anaheim Ducks won the Cup in 2007. For Kings fans, when the former Disney-owned franchise based on a corny kids movie won the first Cup ever in the state of California, it was a punch in the gut. When I was in L.A., the Kings missed the playoffs from the 2002-2003 season to the 2008-2009 season (2004-2005 was a lockout year). They finally made the playoffs the next two years only to lose to the Canucks and Sharks in the first round.
The Kings of California are about to be crowned Stanley Cup champions and this former Angeleno is enjoying this magical postseason run.
Go Kings Go!