Wayne Gretzky, Alyssa Milano, Sidney Crosby (sorry Sid, but Alyssa gets the nod ahead of you), LL Cool J and David Beckham were all present as the Kings put themselves within a win of a Stanley Cup championship last night. Seemingly, all thatâ€™s left to do is to lift it. A highly commanding playoff run, coupled with a fantastic road record and an almost unbelievable penalty kill, gives them every right to. The Kings are simply playing fantastic hockey.
Simon Gagne made his return to the ice which, no matter who you want to win this thing, has to put a smile on your face. On the flip side, itâ€™s hard watching a guy whoâ€™s the leading point scorer of the playoffs up until game 3 (Kovalchuk) struggle with an injury thatâ€™s becoming more and more of a hindrance as the Cup gets closer for the opposing team. Both things are equally a part of playoff hockey and we have no choice but to embrace them as story making events.
You could say that Kings fans are witnessing the same type of perfect storm that hit the Pittsburgh Penguins on their route to the 2008-09 Stanley Cup. Sure, Darryl Sutter might not be a very good GM, and sure Bylsma was a rookie NHL coach, but itâ€™s apparent that a change in coaching style and philosophy is doing wonders for this LA team as they have put it all together at exactly the right time of the season.
You know, Iâ€™m really glad hockey is a sport whose fans (God bless us right?) rarely say, â€œThey didnâ€™t deserve itâ€ after one team wins or loses. The Kings might have been outplayed in parts of games 2 and 3, but since goalies are a massive part of any team thatâ€™s a pretty meaningless notion.
The Kings have â€œoutgoaltended” New Jersey. They’ve outdefended the Devils. They’ve outbattled them physically, all over the ice. And when you see Kopitar, Williams and Brown combining as they did on the second Kingsâ€™ goal, you can only accept the truth, even for New Jersey fans â€“ the Kings are a better team right now.
Is New Jersey dead? A lot of religious people will tell you that the devil is never truly defeated and weâ€™ll all continue to watch, hoping for some more suspense in the Finals. After all, the next NHL puck drop is many a day (and negotiation) away. Can it happen? Well now, the Devils are no 1942 Leafs, are they?
YOUR MORNING LINKS:
Damien Cox advocates for Scott Clemmensen with Tomas Vokoun off the market. Can I get a collective “mehhhh.”
In Hockey Enforcerâ€™s Descent, a Flood of Prescription Drugs. AÂ fantastic, yet horrifying piece by John Branch.
Tim Thomas needs a break, wants to reconnect with the three Fs.Â I think a few Bruins fans have a fourth F for him.
Recap of Game 3 – Erm, tough, big, Quick and talented?