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.
Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues
Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.
OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.
It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.
Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.
In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.
It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.
The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?
“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”
Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.
The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.
Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.
With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.
They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.