If you thought the Kings were going to blow a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals and put a damper on what has been an improbable run, you found out this evening that they had more integrity than that.
In the first three games of the finals, Los Angeles made quick work of the New Jersey Devils, outscoring them 8-2 only to falter with the champagne on ice twice in a row in Games 4 and 5.
But every closer needs to walk the bases loaded every once in a while, right?
For nearly a week now, we’ve heard speculation that the Kings are incapable of “getting it done,” that their luck may have run out.
We’ve also heard the reminders of the meltdown experienced by the 1942 Detroit Red Wings, the last team to lose four straight games in the Stanley Cup Finals after winning the first three.
But when the pressure was on for the Kings, they closed. When the pundits started to question their ability to play in a tight series after dominating the playoffs, they answered.
And when they first skated onto the ice in front of a sold-out, raucous Staples Center crowd, they did not disappoint.
In the first period, the Kings showed why they belonged atop the hockey throne, taking advantage of three early power play opportunities and propelling themselves to a 3-0 lead.
Jumping to an early lead made an excited Staples Center crowd that much harder to deal with for the Devils. It also built confidence for the Kings, who knew that the first team to score in each previous game had gone on to win.
Kings center Jeff Carter traded goals with Devils center Adam Henrique in the second period to make the score 4-1, and the Kings all but hoisted the cup during the middle of the third, scoring back-to-back goals in the last five minutes of what was ultimately a 6-1 victory.
What’s so amazing about the first-time NHL champions is that their season began with very few title hopes. On December 12th, the Kings were limping along with a 13-13-4 record and fired then-coach Terry Murray.
Still, the team thrived in the underdog role, earning the No. 8 seed then obliterating the competition in the Western Conference Playoffs.
Led by players like center Anze Kopitar and playoff MVP goalie Jonathan Quick, this group of scrappy players did what “The Great One” could not in Los Angeles in 1991-1992 and defied the odds for a title.
In all likelihood, a win of this magnitude will turn more Los Angelinos into hockey fans, something that has needed to happen for a while, as hockey fans tend to be some of the most die-hard individuals in American professional sports.
Even more than Barry Melrose needs his hair gel, the Los Angeles Kings needed this Stanley Cup.
And they got it.