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First of a two-part preview of the 2012 Stanley Cup finals.
History: The L.A. Kings are in rarefied air for many reasons. It’s only the second Stanley Cup finals berth in franchise history. Second, they’re only the second No. 8 seed to ever reach the finals (the other was the 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers, who lost in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes). Thirdly, this is only the fourth time that a team from California has reached the finals; the other two berths were by the rival Anaheim Ducks, who won the Cup in 2007 and lost in the 2003 finals to the New Jersey Devils. The Kings are undefeated on the road this postseason (8-0), becoming the first team to go unbeaten away from home on the way to the finals. Finally, this is the lowest combination of seeds (the Devils are the No. 6 seed) in the Stanley Cup finals since the NHL switched to the current format for the 1994 postseason. (It’s hard to determine official conference seeding before then.)
The theme of the 2012 Western Conference finals has to be “out with the old; in with the new.” Anybody who questions that mantra need only to look up the combined conference finals berths in the (relatively short) histories of the Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings. That total would be one — achieved by the 1993 Kings starring Wayne Gretzky. But that was so long ago that the team the Kings defeated in the conference finals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, are now in the Eastern Conference. (The Kings lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the great Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens in five games.) This year, in fact, marks the first time in the 15 seasons the Coyotes have spent in Phoenix that they actually won a playoff series. (As the Winnipeg Jets, the franchise won three World Hockey Association titles but, since joining the NHL for the 1979-80 season, only won two playoff series before moving to Phoenix — and never reached the Campbell/Western Conference finals.
OK, enough history… these two teams are really good. They’re the top two defensive teams in the playoffs (in terms of goals allowed per game) and two of the best on the penalty kill. The Kings are slightly better offensively (averaging three goals per game, compared to the Coyotes’ 2.64), but have a much worse power play (8.5 percent effective, compared to 16.1 percent for Phoenix).
I continue my analysis of the 2nd round Stanley Cup playoff series by analyzing the playoff series between the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles (LA) Kings.
Both teams won their opening-round series in five games. While the Blues erased their 10-year series-winning playoff drought in impressive fashion by dispatching the San Jose Sharks, the 8th-seeded Kings pulled off the Stanley Cup playoff’s biggest upset by eliminating the top-seeded and President’s Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks.
Yahoo`s Puck Daddy decided to dedicate more time than deserved to the lazy-sack-of-crap Dustin Penner, wondering why/when Penner is going to start producing for the Kings.
Ever since the Oilers delivered trucks of money to Penner to join their club, the guy has been, somewhat unfairly, expected to be a premium goal scorer in the NHL. Remember, Penner was undrafted and never given much notice until the Ducks gave him a shot. I`d never reject that kind of money thrown my way, but that doesn`t necessarily mean he was worth that much or would ever produce enough value.
A quick answer to Greg, and anyone else holding their breath: Stop expecting Penner to be a good player.
Look at Penner`s career stats. It`s pretty clear what his true level of play is.
In recent years, the #1 seed in the Western Conference has been synonymous with both the Pacific Division and the San Jose Sharks. It would seem likely that this will be repeated again in 2011.
This article will suggest that not only will San Jose not take the first seed in the West, they will not even win their own division, as it is now the time for the Los Angeles Kings to do just that.
Here are the five reasons that the Kings can take their rightful place on the throne in the Pacific:
Yesterday Paul (KK) posted a bit of an interview with Anze Kopitar with links to the rest of it on lakings.com. There were 2 other interviews that were related to Kings fans by Rich Hammond on his blog LA Kings Insider
First was an audio interview with former Kings forward and current TV color commentator Jim Fox as he appeared on XM Radio’s Power Play show. Here are 2 links:
I’m sure most fans outside of Los Angeles will be surprised to hear that the Kings host an annual event for their fans called Hockey Fest. It coincides with the opening of rookie camp and all Kings fans can attend for a small fee. Season ticket holders get a discount.
From Rich Hammond’s LA Kings Insider blog here’s the schedule for this year’s event scheduled for Saturday, September 11th:
For those wondering about what the Kings’ “Hockey Fest” will look like this season, here’s a rundown of exactly how the day is scheduled to go. All events will take place at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. Tickets are available for $20 (or $15 for season-ticket holders).
I’m going to avoid calling this a “season preview” as I think I share the belief of most Kings fans that Dean Lombardi will make at least one more move this offseason that will alter the starting lineup. Instead I’ll take a look at the current team to try to identify what I believe are the strengths and weaknesses.
Top 6: Right now the top 6 forwards of the Kings appears to be Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Ryan Smyth, Wayne Simmonds, Jarret Stoll, and Justin Williams. Micheal Handzus and newly signed Alexei Ponikarovsky could also push for playing time on the top 2 lines, depending on their production. Last year the Kings were tied for 9th in 5 on 5 goal scoring ratio at 1.07, tied with Pittsburgh. They were 7th in the league on the power play scoring the 5th most PP goals in the league with 64.
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