Here’s just another example of two things I love coming together: ice hockey and Jimmy Kimmel. You’re welcome.
Here’s just another example of two things I love coming together: ice hockey and Jimmy Kimmel. You’re welcome.
There you have it: The Los Angeles Kings are Stanley Cup Champions.
This is the stuff that’s only written in fairy tales. An eighth-seeded team, with enough heart and determination, knocking off the top 3 seeds in the Western Conference, and taking the last game of the Stanley Cup Finals in a dramatic and dominant fashion.
I can’t even begin to say how happy I am for the LA Kings and their fans, but first we have to acknowledge their opponents: the New Jersey Devils. They fought back in an amazing way, coming back from a 3-0 game deficit in the SCFs and gave the Kings a legitimate run for their money. Honestly, if the Kings hadn’t played the Game 6 that is now etched in the record books, the Devils could have easily taken the series.
But, alas, the hockey gods didn’t want it that way. The entire hockey world respects the Kings and their organization. See for yourselves:
The great part about all of the praise for both organizations is that it shows the class of hockey players, officials, and executives. The exchange between Martin Brodeur and Jonathan Quick, in particular, was great to see, because they have such a mutual respect for each other. At one point, I could read Brodeur’s lips and he told Quick that he was “incredible”. I mean, seriously? That’s a unbelievable compliment coming from a future Hall of Famer like Brodeur, and obviously well-deserved.
Was anyone surprised? If Quick hadn’t gotten the Conn Smythe, I think a riot would have broken out in the streets of Los Angeles, Vancouver-style. No? Too soon? Meh, whatever. But back to the point, Quick’s performance was unreal. Completely dominant from start to finish, and he never missed a beat.
16 wins, 4 losses. Only one road loss. A .946 save percentage. WHAT THE WHAT?! He’s amazing. Can’t even handle it. So deserving, and he’s got a long career ahead of him.
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter
It’s really almost funny at this point. The picture says it all. When both Richie and Carter were traded away to markets that, let’s be honest, weren’t the most desirable for them as players, you had to wonder if they’d ever see the success they deserved. And now look: Carter was traded at the deadline from Columbus, the bottom of the NHL food-chain, to the Kings, and reunited with former-Flyer Richards. It’s a cinderella story if you’ve ever heard one.
Frazzle Dazzle, I’m so proud of you. As a former Chicago Blackhawk and member of the 2010 Championship team, I always root for those players. Kings fans, keep this in mind: you can and always should root for the players that are important to you, no matter where they’re playing. It keeps historic moments like this fresh in your mind, and you’ll never get over it.
Fraser was a key 4th line role player on the Kings this season, and was on the ice when the hole blew to end Game 6. He’s a classy guy, a classy player, but was the ugly duckling of hockey this season. No one wanted him. The Oilers and the Kings went back and forth trying to figure something out for him, and thanks to the Kings organization and coaching staff, Fraz has carved out a nice spot for himself in LA. Let’s hope he sticks around, because he deserves it. Plus, he’s the first of the 2010 Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup again. Git ‘er done, Frazzle Dazzle!
Holy schnikes, talk about a 180 degree turn. Darryl Sutter, HUGE ups to you, sir. To take an organization and a team that was completely discombobulated (I must’ve swallowed a dictionary, that word is longgggg) and dysfunctional, to getting them into the playoffs, and winning the Stanley Cup as an eighth-seed is incredible. And to think he did it without ever cracking a smile.
Oh wait, there it is.
It’s moments like this that make me love hockey. I just fell in love more and more with the sport, watching history happen, and seeing the relief on the players’ and coaches faces to have achieved the most difficult trophy to win in all of sports. It’s incredible.
Honestly, I could go on and on about Game 6, the hit on Rob Scuderi, and every “what if” moment imaginable. But I just want to say one thing to the Kings fans: ENJOY THIS. It’s history that you just witnessed, and something that will forever go down as the night that cheers erupted from the Staples Center without Kobe Bryant on the court. I hope LA becomes more of a hockey town, because this organization deserves it. It says a lot about the resilience of the players and the front office to continue to play and work for an organization that might not have the greatest presence in its location. So cheers to you, boys, you deserve it. Now party like you’re Patrick Kane, but try not to get arrested or let the front office get mad at you. So basically…..party like it’s 1999.
It’s D-Day, ladies and gents. Game 4, Devils vs. Kings, with a potential sweep on the line.
I don’t even want to think about the game, because I’m going to be jumping at every time move those players make, and my new roommate is going to think I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
And what do I think of that?
Yup. That’s how I feel about it.
Anyway, how awesome would it be for Richards and Carter to hoist the Cup after being traded away from the Flyers, separated for the first half of the season, then reuniting and becoming the dynamic duo they once were on the east coast? I’ll tell you how awesome: it would be nearly as awesome as Stammer growing his flow back, Jeff Skinner and I becoming besties, and Captain Sexpanther walking into my apartment right now and proposing to me COMBINED. Okay, it probably wouldn’t be as awesome as me and Tazer getting’ hitched, but it’ll be close.
Get excited, everyone. No matter what the outcome of this game, it’ll either extend an already exciting series, or give a franchise it’s first ever Stanley Cup. Leggo.
*If anyone gets the reference from this post’s title, you’ll be my bestie for life. But seriously.*
Oh, the Kings. A team after my own heart. I’ve always rooted for the underdog, and since every “favorite” team (save for the New York Rangers) lost in the first round of these seemingly backwards playoffs, this year will be forever known as the year of the upset. I’m not even going to go through which teams lost in the first round (because then I’d have to relive the heartbreak of my Blackhawks blowing it), but you all know what happened. And let’s be honest, if your reaction wasn’t:
…then you’re either crazy, a liar, or both. It’s going to be a special thing to see Los Angeles win, but then, there’s the other guy.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils, though not as much my favorite as the Kings are, they deserve to be here. How they dethroned King Henrik and the New York Rangers, coming back from 2 games down in the Eastern Conference Finals will be the stuff of legend. Every game was a classic in that series, and they worked hard to get to the Finals. No Doubt.
Now, I’m not going to make any predictions for this series. But, if I’m honest (which, lezbehonest, I always am), I want the Kings to win for a few reasons. One, Colin Fraser is on that team, and I always root for former Blackhawks. They’re coached by Darryl Sutter, another former Hawk. And, finally, probably my most legitimate reason, I want Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to succeed. As much as I despise the Flyers, and they are the former captain and alternate captain of that team, what happened to them last summer was brutal. They were the faces of that franchise, and were blindly traded away. Carter struggled quite a bit this season with injury, and it’d be nice for him to get some vindication.
Either way it goes though, I’m so excited for this series. It’s gonna be magical :)
I was planning on waiting until the end of the first round to give my thoughts on who came out on top, but considering the way a few series have been going, all I have to say is this:
For the Vancouver/LA series:
What do you guys think about these series? Let us know!
Favorite time of year. EVER. Except for maybe my birthday (for those of you who are dying to know, my 21st is coming up on April 15!) I love the playoffs, because it’s completely anything goes. Every fan comes out with their predictions and hopes to God that they can say “I told you so” to their friends in the form of stealing their money from the pot. My friend’s family does a pool every year, and even the dog gets picks. Take a wild guess as to who has won the last 2 years. The dog.
So, even though I’m your resident Western Conference girl, I’m gonna give you my picks for both the Eastern and Western Conference first rounds in two different posts just to give your eyes a break form reading my obviously riveting ideas. Get pumped guys, $#!+ is about to get real.
Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings
This is definitely a matchup that will be an interesting one to watch. The Red Wings are a staple in the NHL playoffs, having qualified for the playoffs every season since 1990-1991 (not including the lockout). The Predators, however, have lost in the first round of the playoffs 5 years out of the 8 they’ve qualified in their short history. But I think this year will be different. They have home ice advantage, and Detorit is constantly riding the struggle bus on their road games. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter can shut down Pavel Datsyuk, not to mention making major contributions on the power play. Then again, the Red Wings are the Red Wings. Their roster is stacked, with players like Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Kronwall, and Stuart, making them a very intimidating team on paper. At the end of the day though, with their injury problems and road woes, I don’t think that this is Detroit’s year, especially with a first round against Nashville. The Preds have waited long enough, and they deserve to make it through the first round, especially with their depth. Predators in 7.
St. Louis Blues vs. San Jose Sharks
I’m still in shock that St. Louis is sitting just below Vancouver on the top of the Western Conference. But this is why I love hockey: any team could just be the one to win it all. Alright, let’s get down to business. In my opinion, it’s just this side of no contest. The Blues are going to take this series. They’ve dominated the regular season and took over the toughest division in the NHL, which, in case you’ve forgotten, holds 4 out of the 8 playoff spots. Their goaltending tandem is completely solid, as opposed to the Sharks, whose goalies have struggled throughout the season. Even given that, the Sharks are a playoff-built team. They’ve made it very far in past years, but have yet to reach the coveted finals and seem to always fall short. This might be another year for that. Blues in 6.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings
Ah, the Canucks. Anyone who has read my posts before knows what I think of the Canucks. I’m not a fan. However, they’re the President’s Trophy winners for the second year in a row, so you have to give credit where credit is due. Truly, I think the Kings have a shot with a goaltender whose name should speak for itself. Jonathan Quick is one of a few goalies in the league that send shivers down the spine of any player skating towards him down the ice with the puck on his stick. But, aside form the goalie duel that will be one of the best, I think this will be one series that will absolutely go to 7 games. Like everyone says, now the regular season doesn’t matter. It’s win or go home, and I’m hoping for an upset on this one. The Canucks aren’t drastically different than they were last year or the year before, aside from the acquisition of David Booth from Florida earlier in the season. I think they can only make it past the first round if Roberto Luongo stays hot, because when he’s on he’s great, and when he’s not, it’s a collapsing Jenga tower of crap. Their forwards are phenomenal, but they’re such perfectionists as well. You can see it so easily when something doesn’t go their way, they start yet another collapse of frustration. And for those of you reading this thinking I just want an upset because I’m not a huge Vancouver fan, just hold your horses. I simply think the Kings’ cooler heads will prevail. Kings in 7.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes
I wish I could say I wished for this matchup. If we’re being honest, I wanted both Phoenix and Chicago to make it to the semis, but unfortunately for me and one of these teams, they can’t both make it. Now, given past experience, normally this would be a shoo-in for the Blackhawks to win the series in probably 5 games. However, the Coyotes have won 3 of the 4 regular season meetings with the Blackhawks and have one hell of a solid goaltender in Mike Smith, who is coming off of an absolutely stellar 5-game run. This is an underdog team, and the underdog fights a hell of a lot more because they feel they have something to prove. Not to mention, poor Captain Sexpanther is still sidelined with an injury, which could prove to be a major break for the Coyotes. With that said, I don’t believe that Phoenix is a playoff-built team. They don’t have the playoff experience to survive against a team that is truly stacked. Basically what I’m saying is forget the regular season. The Blackhawks are the legitimately deeper, better, more talented team, and I think the only thing that can save the Coyotes is one hell of a performance from Mike Smith. He’s their not-so-secret weapon. With that said, if the Blackhawks don’t underestimate the Coyotes and Captain Sexpanther comes back healthy, they should be unstoppable. Blackhawks in 6.
What do you guys think about the Western Conference? Let us know in the comments, and get your playoff beards ready!
A hockey team is made up of 20 players: eight wingers, six defensemen, four centers, and two goalies. It’s not surprising that the forwards get the most attention, considering they’re the ones scoring most of the goals and making the fancy plays that hit the highlight reels every night on ESPN. But, on any given night, a team could thrive or completely tank depending on the play of one person: the goaltender.
These guys make me feel like I need to stretch every day, I mean really?! They’re crazy flexible! You think the goal can’t be that big, but when you have a puck coming at you at about 90 mph (or 108 mph if you’re Zdeno Chara, that friggin’ giraffe), your reflexes have to be crazy quick. In my opinion, the thing the separates a good goaltender from a great goaltender is simple: he’s not a sieve. He’s big in the net, crazy quick, and gives his team a legitimate chance to win every game, no matter who the opponent is. So, in honor of the smallest contingent of men in the NHL, we here at Hockey’s Finest present the Top 6 (because I couldn’t pick just 5) goaltenders of the 2011-2012 season.
6. Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes
I mean REALLY?! Marian Gaborik is a dangerous shooter, and Smitty just closes the door. Unreal. But like I said before, a team is only as good as its goalie. And Phoenix is absolutely not an exception to that rule. When was the last time they were a legitimate threat going into the playoffs? As of right now, they’re one point outside the race, sitting in 10th place in the West just behind San Jose. But you had better believe that without Smith posting a .924 save percentage (tied with Kari Lehtonen and Pekka Rinne), they would be an afterthought sitting in the Western Conference basement. The fact that they can be included in the playoff conversation, especially after their less-than-stellar play the last few season is remarkable, and Mike Smith deserves a huge hunk of the credit.
5. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Pedators
Homeboy is ridonkulous. He has to be one of the quickest goalies in the league, second only to Thomas the Tank Engine in Beantown (he’s got those short lil’ legs). Rinne is truthfully the backbone of that Nashville team. Yes, Shea Weber gets the bulk of the attention, but if you ask any NHL forward who they don’t like to see between the pipes on the other team, Rinne’s always in the conversation. Plus, he has a sick name. You can’t compete with that.
4. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Yet another very appropriate name. He’s so speedy! It’s hard for you as a player to look at the goal while you have the puck on your stick because, personally, I’d be thinking, “Oh $#!+, it’s JQ and I’m not gonna score, am I?” NOPE. He’s a wall. Thankfully he gets the recognition he deserves, because even when the Kings hit the skids, Quick is always on the positive side of the conversation. Great player.
3. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
I know some of you might be wondering why I put Thomas so high on this list, and it’s a valid question. To me, Thomas is an elite goaltender. Boston sports fans put their athletes on this pedestal of a God-like status, and Thomas has been up there for quite some time. Yes, his save percentage is nowhere near where it was last year. However, that stat was truly unreal, and I’m surprised he bounced back this well after the year the Bruins had and the short summer. Plus, he’s just a solid dude. I has a soft spot for Timmay, what can I say?
2. Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues
Talk about a dark horse team. If you had asked any pundit out there what team would be the first o reach 100 points the year, very few if any at all, would have pegged the Blues for that distinction. I put both of their goalies together because they’ve split the season almost down the middle and, truthfully, are one of the best tandems in the league (Thomas/Rask in Boston are the other). Every night, no matter who seems to be between the pipes, St. Louis is solid as a brick wall back there. They’re just nuts, I can’t even stand it.
1. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Oh, Hank. You’re so dreeeeaaammmyyyyy :) *AHEM* I mean, he’s very talented…..whatever, we all know Henrik is gorg, and then there’s the flow….is it hot in here? Okay I’m done. But on the serious, folks, isn’t it always the pretty ones that end up being the most talented? I like to call it Taylor Swift syndrome: They’re pretty, they’re nice, they’re talented, and you want to hate them on principle, but you CAN’T. BECAUSE THEY’RE SO DARN NICE. And Lundqvist has got to be one of the most humble, nice guys in the league, and to go along with how clutch he is every single night for the Rangers is simply remarkable. I can’t even fathom putting someone else at the top of this list, even though they’ve hit a bit of a slump lately, but he’s just too good. Even in the clip above, the Rangers were down by 2 with 8 minutes left in the 3rd period, and he just keeps fighting. He’s a dirty goalie, in the best way possible. Now if only I can find a way to just touch the hair and not get arrested…..ideas?
What do you guys think? Did we leave anyone out? Let us know in the comments!