Should the LA Kings win the Stanley Cup tonight they would complete a historically dominant playoff run. Their 16-2 record would tie the 1988 Edmonton Oilers for the best playoff mark since the league shifted to four seven-game series.
As I pondered this in light of the book this morning a few things stood out to me.
That amazing Oilers team, and the city of Edmonton, province of Alberta and even nation of Canada never were the same two months later … when Wayne Gretzky and Marty McSorley were traded to the Kings. For that matter, neither was hockey in Los Angeles or California.
Even if the Kings don’t win tonight — and they’ve dropped two of three Game 4s while holding 3-0 series leads thus far in the playoffs — the odds are stacked in their favor to win the Cup.
I also wondered how this Kings team stacks up against one of the more dominant Cup winners in recent times — their neighbors to the south, the Anaheim Ducks, whose birth was a byproduct of Gretzky’s change of address and the Kings’ run to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Ducks’ 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs record was 16-5. The did not sweep a series (as the King have twice), and they faced a much tougher foe in the Western Conference finals, the Detroit Red Wings, whom they knocked off 4-2. The Wings went on to win the Cup the next season and returned to the Final in 2009 only to lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Anaheim was very dominant during the 2006-07 regular season, amassing a league-best 110 points, while the Kings made it as an eighth seed. Anaheim had 48 wins, and with 14 overtime or shootout losses, the Ducks came very close to cracking the vaunted 50-win barrier. Those Ducks were a balanced bunch, with eight players scoring 44 or more points, including current King Dustin Penner with 45. Scoring was the Kings’ Achilles’ heel this season as only four players had 44 or more points during the regular season, Penner with just 18.
Penner, the connection between the two teams, added eight more points (including three goals) in the 2007 playoffs. He has surpassed that already in fewer games this spring with 11 points, including three goals.
This is a good time to mention a quintet of men associated with the Kings who have been immensely helpful in my efforts to research the book during the past four years — broadcasters Bob Miller, Jim Fox and Darryl Evans, as well as media relations personnel Jeff Moeller and Mike Kalinowski. All are dedicated to the Kings and to the sport and don’t get the recognition they deserve.