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Posted On Monday, 06.11.2012 / 11:41 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Six is lucky number for Kings

Not only did the Los Angeles Kings win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, they found a way to do it that no team had ever done before.

L.A.'s 5-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night gave the Kings their first championship since entering the NHL in 1967. The Kings became the first team ever to win the first three games of the Final, lose the next two and take the Cup by winning Game 6. Of the previous 25 teams to take a 3-0 lead, 20 finished off the sweep, three needed five games to win, the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs won in seven and the 1942 Detroit Red Wings lost in seven -- the only time that's happened in the Final.

The Kings also became the lowest-seeded team to take home the Cup -- they were 13th in the overall standings during the regular season. Before this year, the lowest-seeded team to win it all was the 1995 Devils, who were ninth -- just as they were this season. L.A. also became the first No. 8 seed to win the Cup since the current format was adopted in 1994.

Los Angeles became the first team since 2007 to win the Cup at home -- the Anaheim Ducks did it five years ago by beating Ottawa -- and ended a four-game losing streak by teams that had a chance to win the Cup in front of their own fans.
Posted On Saturday, 06.09.2012 / 11:56 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Kings impressive road win streak snapped

Because the longest road winning streak in Stanley Cup history is over, the Los Angeles Kings will have to try again on Monday to win their first championship.

The Kings brought a 10-0 record on the road this spring and a 12-0 mark during the past two seasons into the Prudential Center on Saturday night. They left with both streaks ended after a 2-1 loss that cut their lead in the series to 3-2 and sent everyone heading back to the West  Coast for Game 6 on Monday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

The Kings didn't make history because they couldn't defy it -- none of the three teams that won the first three games of the Final and lost Game 4 at home have won Game 5. That scenario hadn't happened since 1945, when Toronto won the first three games only to lose Games 4, 5 -- and 6 -- before winning Game 7 on the road. In the other, Detroit won the first three games in 1942, only to see the Leafs win the next four.
Posted On Wednesday, 06.06.2012 / 11:45 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Once again, Kings can't close the deal

The Los Angeles Kings have done almost nothing wrong this spring. Their only failing continues to be an inability to complete sweeps.

The Kings are the first team ever to go up 3-0 in all four series in a single playoff year, and they're also the only one to miss out on three chances to sweep in the same spring -- all at home. L.A. lost Game 4 to Vancouver in the opening round, did it again against Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals -- and dropped Game 4 for a third time on Wednesday when they allowed three third-period goals in a 3-1 loss to New Jersey that sent the Stanley Cup Final to a Game 5 in Newark on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

Los Angeles was the 26th team to take a 3-0 lead in the Final -- and just the sixth that failed to complete the sweep. The last one was the 1981 New York Islanders, who lost Game 4 to the North Stars in Minnesota before winning Game 5 at home. Before that, you have to go back to 1957, when Boston won Game 4 in overtime at home against Montreal, which won the Cup at the Forum in Game 5.

The last eight teams that had the chance to complete a sweep in the Final had done so, until Wednesday.
Posted On Monday, 06.04.2012 / 11:28 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Kings make history, poised to make more

The Los Angeles Kings made some history on Monday night. They're ready to make even more on Wednesday.

The Kings' 4-0 victory against New Jersey in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final was the 15th of the 16 they need to bring the Cup to L.A. for the first time in franchise history. At 15-2 through 17 games, they've tied the 1988 Edmonton Oilers for the best mark ever at this stage of the playoffs -- and they became the first team since the playoffs went to an all best-of-seven format in 1987 to take a 3-0 lead in all four rounds.

L.A. is showing the value of getting through the early rounds as quickly as possible. The Kings could win the Cup in just 18 games, the same number the Devils played in winning three rounds just to get to the Final.
Posted On Sunday, 06.03.2012 / 12:39 AM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Kings stay perfect on the road

Teams spend six months battling for the home-ice advantage. The Los Angeles Kings continue to turn that strategy on its head.

The Kings made it 10 wins in as many playoff games away from Staples Center this spring when Jeff Carter's overtime goal gave them a 2-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. The 10 road wins match the record held by the 1995 and 2000 Devils and the 2004 Calgary Flames -- but L.A. is the only one of those teams to reach 10 road wins without a loss.

Kings of overtime -- Four of the Kings' 10 victories have come in overtime, including their wins in Game 1 and 2 of the Final. All four of the OT victories have come on the road -- a big reason that the guys in the white sweaters are now 16-9 this spring.

Counting their five-game loss to Montreal in 1993, the Kings have played seven games all-time in the Stanley Cup Final -- and five of them have gone into overtime. L.A. lost Games 2-3-4 to Montreal in OT 19 years ago.
Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 12:25 AM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Road teams continue to thrive in overtime

When it comes to winning in overtime during the Stanley Cup Final, it pays to wear the white sweaters.

Anze Kopitar
Center - LAK
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 16
SOG: 52 | +/-: 14
The Los Angeles Kings continued their own success away from home this spring as well as extending the success of visiting teams in the Stanley Cup Final by beating New Jersey 2-1 in OT on Wednesday in Game 1. Anze Kopitar's goal at 8:13 of overtime improved road teams' record in Final games that go past regulation to 6-1 since 2004 and 17-5 since 1990, when Edmonton's Petr Klima scored at 55:13 of extra time in Game 1 to win the longest game in Final history.

Overall, the visiting team has won 44 of the 74 Final games to go past regulation (not counting a pair of ties).
Posted On Tuesday, 05.29.2012 / 7:58 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Kings vs. Devils by the Numbers

The Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils have never faced each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they don't have a lot of history against each other in the regular season either. The teams have met just 57 times in the 29 seasons since the then-Colorado Rockies moved to New Jersey in 1982.

But both teams have had unexpected playoff runs this postseason -- their combined finish in the overall standings (22) is the lowest for the two teams in the Final since Pittsburgh (7) and Minnesota (16) in 1991. The Devils would match their own mark for the lowest seed to win a Stanley Cup; the Kings, seeded No. 8 in the West, would easily be the lowest-seeded club to win it all.
Posted On Saturday, 05.26.2012 / 12:10 AM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Brodeur and Devils slay the ghosts of 1994

It took 18 years, but Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils finally got it done.

The Devils saw a trip to the 1994 Stanley Cup Final vanish when they couldn't hold onto a 2-0 lead against the Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at home. New Jersey blew another 2-0 lead Friday night -- again in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final -- but, this time, they got to overtime before Adam Henrique's goal at 1:03 gave the Devils a 3-2 win and their fifth trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1995.

Game 6 in 1994 marked the sixth straight playoff start for a rookie goaltender named Martin Brodeur. Friday's game marked Brodeur's 188th consecutive postseason start -- no one else has started a playoff game for the Devils since the series with the Rangers began 18 years ago.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 11:45 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Unlikely contributors fueling Devils' playoff ride

The New Jersey Devils have plenty of star power in players like Martin Brodeur, Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. But they're one win away from their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in nine years thanks to some of their foot soldiers.

Ryan Carter
Center - NJD
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 5
SOG: 13 | +/-: 5
The Devils got two of their goals in Wednesday's 5-3 victory against the Rangers from the one trio of forwards coach Peter DeBoer has left relatively intact -- the fourth line of Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier. Gionta opened the scoring 2:43 into the first period and Carter broke a 3-3 tie with 4:24 left in regulation, finishing off a passout by Gionta.

While most teams are happy if their fourth line can get off the ice unscathed and maybe provide a little energy for the big guns, the Devils continue to get scoring from their fourth unit. The Carter-Bernier-Gionta unit has accounted for eight goals and 16 points in 17 games -- even though Carter and Gionta see less than nine minutes of ice time per game and Bernier plays less than 11 minutes per night. Also, all of the unit's production has come at even strength -- Carter and Gionta (3) have accounted for more 5-on-5 goals than Kovalchuk (2).
Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 1:52 AM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Los Angeles is Kings of the road

The Los Angeles Kings will have the road-ice advantage when the Stanley Cup Final starts next week.

Most teams would rather open a series at home, but the Kings will take the longest road winning streak in Stanley Cup history with them when they open in New York or New Jersey on May 30. The Kings made it 8-for-8 on the road this spring and 10 in a row away from the Staples Center overall by beating Phoenix 4-3 on Tuesday to close out the Western Conference Finals in five games.

The Kings' 10th straight road win moved them past the New York Islanders of 1982 and '83, who won nine straight road games on the way to the last two of their four consecutive Stanley Cups. 

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Quote of the Day

I'm going into this with an open mind. This is a very young player (23) with a tremendous, tremendous amount of upside.

— Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on Emerson Etem's potential