2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs

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My Favorite Goal: Jarret Stoll completes Kings’ upset over Canucks

Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers, personalities and NHL players remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, Jake Abrahams, the Managing Editor of NHL Content at NBC Sports and a Los Angeles native, takes us back to one of the best memories from the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup run.

If there was one team most likely to breeze through the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was the Vancouver Canucks. They had experience, having made it to the previous year’s Cup Final, as well as momentum, having closed the season on an 8-1-0 tear to claim their second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy.

Their first round opponent, the No. 8 seeded Los Angeles Kings, made a midseason coaching change, didn’t clinch a postseason spot until their 81st game, scored the second-fewest goals in the NHL, and hadn’t won a playoff series in over a decade.

Canucks in four, or five at most, right?

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Dean Lombardi took over as Kings general manager in 2006, and one of his first major moves was acquiring center Jarret Stoll and defenseman Matt Greene from the Edmonton Oilers two years later.

Both were classic Lombardi types: rugged, hard working glue guys that every championship team has in its lineup. Stoll excelled in the faceoff dot, and was one of LA’s best penalty killers. Importantly, he also had a wicked shot. He only had six goals in 2011-12, the fewest of his career to that point, but his quick release could be difficult to deal with.

For example, the year prior, he converted on nine of 10 shootout attempts. No one has ever gone 9-of-10 or better, before or since. And he pretty much always shot top shelf, on the glove side. Goalies knew where he was shooting, and still couldn’t stop it.

The Kings won Games 1 and 2 in Vancouver, prompting the Canucks to bench Roberto Luongo and start Cory Schneider in Game 3. He held his own, but LA won 1-0 to go up 3-games-to-none. Schneider only allowed 1 goal again in Game 4 – a Canucks victory this time – and then played well in Game 5, which went to overtime with the score tied 1-1.

At that point, a Vancouver win would have made things interesting again. Two in a row against the inexperienced Kings, with Schneider breathing new life into the defending conference champs, and perhaps things turn out differently.

But all Stoll needed was one chance.

Early in OT, the Canucks were a bit too casual breaking out of their own zone. Trevor Lewis forced a turnover at the blue line, springing Stoll towards the goal on his off wing. With his traditional leg kick, Stoll fired and beat Schneider top shelf – on the blocker side.

Game. Series. Kings in 5.

LA carried that momentum all the way to the Stanley Cup, going 16-4 in the postseason. That dominance was hardly predictable considering the Kings’ best 20-game stretch during the regular season saw them produce only 13 wins.

They remain the only team in the salary cap era to win the Cup in 20 or fewer games. They are the only 8 seed to ever win the Cup.

Stoll didn’t score another goal that postseason, but it didn’t matter. That OT winner on April 22 in Vancouver was the first sign that nothing was going to stop this team.

Kings’ Williams: “I’m pissed off — a lot of guys in that room are pissed off”

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Has adversity crept into the Los Angeles dressing room?

Shortly after the Kings failed to close out New Jersey for the second straight game — suffering their first playoff losing streak in the process — forward Justin Williams displayed a level of frustration rarely seen from L.A. this postseason.

“I’m pissed off,” Williams said. “A lot of guys in that room are pissed off.”

Williams was one of the strongest Kings on the night, scoring their lone goal and stuffing the stat sheet in nearly 20 minute of ice time. But his words spoke louder than his play, especially on a night when several Kings said nothing with theirs.

Anze Kopitar had no shots on goal in over 22 minutes. Dustin Penner had as many penalties (one) as he did hits. Dustin Brown was held pointless for the fourth time in five games this series and didn’t play in the final four minutes of regulation.

The most telling quote about the Kings, though, might’ve come from a Devil.

“I think they’re so close to winning the Stanley Cup,” Martin Brodeur said. “I’m sure it’s getting to them a little bit, to be able to have all these chances and not capitalize on them.

“It’s a matter of us now going into a tough environment in L.A., to try to ruin the party again.”

Watch Stanley Cup Media Day devolve into a catfight with microphones

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Check out the turf war that occurred during Zach Parise’s Stanley Cup media day session:

Having attended a Stanley Cup media day before, I can confirm scrums do get uncomfortably tight. There’s lots of jockeying for position and putting up with “hockey writer” musk, an enchanting mix of deodorant and stale coffee.

That said, I’ve never seen someone attack a microphone rather than, you know, the person operating it.

This guy realizes the mic is an inanimate object, right?

Stanley Cup finals preview: Kings vs. Devils, playoff experience

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New Jersey Devils

Most postseason games:

Martin Brodeur (199), Patrik Elias (156), Petr Sykora (130), Dainius Zubrus (86), Anton Volchenkov (79), Bryce Salvador (68), Steve Bernier (62).

Stanley Cup finals appearances:

Sykora (2000, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2009), Brodeur (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003), Elias (2000, 2001, 2003), Volchenkov (2007), Zubrus (1997).

Stanley Cups won:

Brodeur (1995, 2000, 2003), Elias (2000, 2003), Sykora (2000, 2009)

Notes:

— Game 1 will be the 200th career playoff game for Brodeur, making him just the second goalie in NHL history to accomplish the feat. The other? Patrick Roy, with 247.

— Brodeur will also become one of just 19 players in NHL history to play 200 postseason contests. The only other active player with a similar accomplishment is Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom (263), who is just three back of Chris Chelios for the all-time mark.

— Elias sits second all-time for playoff games by a Czech player, 24 behind Philly’s Jaromir Jagr. Sykora is fourth (behind Elias, Jagr and Bobby Holik.)

Los Angeles Kings

Most postseason games:

Mike Richards (77), Rob Scuderi (75), Justin Williams (65), Willie Mitchell (65), Jeff Carter (61), Dustin Penner (54).

Stanley Cup finals appearances:

Richards (Philadelphia, 2010), Carter (Philadelphia, 2010), Scuderi (Pittsburgh, 2008-09), Penner (Anaheim, 2007), Williams (Carolina, 2006), Matt Greene (Edmonton, 2006), Jarret Stoll (Edmonton, 2006).

Stanley Cups won:

Scuderi (Pittsburgh, 2009), Penner (Anaheim, 2007), Williams (Carolina, 2006).

Notes:

— Penner is looking to become the first player in NHL history to win Cups with two of the NHL’s three California teams. The only other player to come close is Rob Blake, who went to the Cup finals with the Kings in 1993, then the Western Conference finals with San Jose in 2010.

— Stoll and Green hold the unique distinction of playing for the only two No. 8 seeds (since the format change) to make a Cup final.

— Kings bench boss Darryl Sutter lost the Cup final in 2004 (as a head coach with Calgary) to Tampa Bay and in 1992 (as an assistant with Chicago) to Pittsburgh.

Here’s the full Eastern and Western Conference finals schedule

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The NHL’s schedule for the conference finals of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs has been released and you can take a look at it below. NBC Universal will televise every postseason game this year.

Without further ado, here’s the schedule:

* – If necessary, TBD = to be determined; All times Eastern.

Eastern Conference: No. 1 New York vs. No. 6 New Jersey

Game 1: Monday, May 14, at New York (8 p.m., NBCSN)
Game 2: Wednesday, May 16, at New York (8 p.m., NBCSN)
Game 3: Saturday, May 19, at New Jersey (1 p.m., NBC)
Game 4: Monday, May 21, at New Jersey (8 p.m., NBCSN)
*Game 5: Wednesday, May 23, at New York (8 p.m., NBCSN)
*Game 6: Friday, May 25, at New Jersey (8 p.m., NBCSN)
*Game 7: Sunday, May 27, at New York (8 p.m., NBCSN)

Western Conference: No. 3 Phoenix vs. No. 8 Los Angeles

Game 1: Sunday, May 13 at Phoenix (8 p.m., NBCSN)
Game 2: Tuesday, May 15 at Phoenix (9 p.m., NBCSN)
Game 3: Thursday, May 17 at Los Angeles (9 p.m., NBCSN)
Game 4: Sunday, May 20 at Los Angeles (3 p.m., NBC)
*Game 5: Tuesday, May 22 at Phoenix (9 p.m., NBCSN)
*Game 6: Thursday, May 24 at Los Angeles (9 p.m., NBCSN)
*Game 7: Saturday, May 26 at Phoenix (8 p.m., TBD)