May 11, 2013 by The Hockey Daily.
In the end, the Los Angeles Kings were just a little bit too much for the St. Louis Blues once again. The defending Stanley Cup champs trailed 2-0 after Games’ 1 & 2 at the Scottrade Center then stormed back with a king’s conviction to win four straight and advance to the 2nd round. They now await their next opponent which will be determined by the results of Sunday night’s Game 7 between the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings.
If the Ducks beat the Red Wings tomorrow night the Western Conference 2nd round will be Chicago Blackhawks vs San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks vs Los Angeles Kings. If the Detroit Red Wings win Game 7 they will advance to the 2nd round for the 3rd time in four playoffs and the match-ups in the West will be Chicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings vs San Jose Sharks. Either way, we have an all California best-of-seven series to look forward to.
With their Game 6 victory the Los Angeles Kings become the first defending Cup champ to survive the 1st round of playoffs the year after winning since the Pittsburgh Penguins did it in 2009. The 09 Penguins team didn’t win their 2nd round series and have not made it out of the 1st round since. Momentum can change quickly for a successful organization. The Kings will look to not pull a Pittsburgh by having a successful series against their California rivals, whichever one they end up playing.
The Blues Are Built Like The Kings.
It was probably the worst possible matchup for the Blues to draw in the 1st round. In playing LA they were basically playing a more complete version of themselves. The Kings and Blues play a similar physical brand of hockey, featuring a relentless forecheck and shut-down defence mentality. Where the Blues may be a little quicker up front, they consequently are also a little smaller and less battle ready.
The series that featured bone crunching body checks, superb goaltending, and last minute heroics was very entertaining after 4 games. However, once the Kings regained momentum and it became clear Jonathan Quick was no longer in the business of handing away freebies at in-opportune times the Kings started to take over. Everyone outside of St. Louis could see what was coming.
Entering The Playoffs All The Talk Was About The Chicago Blackhawks And Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Kings were definitely not ranked as top choice to win the Cup this season, nor were they last year when they basically cruised to Stanley Cup glory with a 16-5 record. I guess most analysts still think the President’s Trophy winner is going to win the Cup every year, even though 3 of the last 4 have lost in the first round of the playoffs. There is a reason one season is called “Regular” and the other one is played for the most illustrious trophy in hockey. Keep your Presidents Trophies and Preview Show acclaim, the Kings are built to win important games in the playoffs and that’s exactly what they do.
It’s too early to dream of a Western Conference Final between the Kings and Hawks, leading to a Stanley Cup Final showcasing the Kings against the Penguins because there are too many variables that could prevent either of those things from happening. But if the Kings do have to play the two pre-playoff favourites in the post season they are capable of winning either series.
The last NHL franchise to win two Stanley Cups in a row was the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings. History suggests the Kings aren’t likely to pull off the rare accomplishment. I doubt they’re worried about that though. The LA Kings possess a swagger and confidence that is maybe only matched by the Chicago Blackhawks, recent Cup winners themselves. The Kings still seem hungry too. They’ll need to be hungry if they want to repeat, especially with two more Western Conference teams to get past before the finals.