Los Angeles Kings v St. Louis Blues - Game Two

Teams that climb as fast as the Kings, usually fall in finals


The Los Angeles Kings couldn’t have been much more dominant in their road to the Stanley Cup Finals. With a 12-2 record, can the winner of the New Jersey Devils-New York Rangers series possibly stand in their way? Yes, actually. In fact, if anything, history is not on the Kings’ side.

The last four squads to post a 12-2 record through three rounds lost in the Stanley Cup Finals. They were Chicago (1992), Detroit (1995), Anaheim (2003), and Pittsburgh (2008). In fact, since the opening round became a best-of-seven series, only the Edmonton Oilers in 1987 and 1988 managed to win the Stanley Cup after breezing through with a 12-2 record.

Of course, history lessons like that should be taken with a grain of salt. The odds aren’t automatically against the Los Angeles Kings just because the majority of past teams that cruised to the Stanley Cup finals ended up faltering.

A more positive way to look at it for Los Angeles is that they’re closing in on some playoff records. Los Angeles has a perfect 8-0 road record and no team has ever won more than 10 road games in a single postseason run. If the Kings sweep the Stanley Cup Finals, then they will tie the 1988 Edmonton Oilers – a team that included Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri – for the least games needed to win a Stanley Cup under the current playoff format.

History might not be on the Kings’ side – but then, how many eighth seeds get to the Stanley Cup Finals in the first place? History was never their friend, but that’s fine because they’re rewriting it.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

Leave a comment

There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
1 Comment

Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.