When the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim captured the Stanley Cup in 2007, there was no joy in my household.
While many in Southern California were jumping on the Ducks bandwagon, my family stuck to its guns and remained loyal to the Royal, as in the Los Angeles Kings.
If we were from back East, would it be any different when New Jersey won several Cups, but we were disappointed fans of the Rangers? Or Philadelphia-Pittsburgh, Detroit-Chicago or Toronto-Montreal?
Being a life-long Kings fan, I attempt to refrain from writing too much about them or display too much favoritism – or place the whammy on them. I rarely give the Kings out as a play in my daily selections.
However, following L.A.’s Western Conference semifinal sweep of the second-seeded St. Louis Blues, the Kings, playoff has-beens in the NHL since their inception in the 1967-68 season, are now 8-1 in the postseason, including a victory in five games over the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks.
Just call me giddy while waiting for the Phoenix-Nashville winner to emerge.
Still, people prefer to pick winners based on perceived facts rather than emotion, so here is why Los Angeles owns a legitimate opportunity to place its name next to Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, Trojans and Bruins in the City of Champions.
Offense: While teams like Washington rely upon just a single line or one superstar for scoring, the Kings currently offer two lines that can fill the net – what a turnabout from the first five months of the season!
The presence of captain Dustin Brown on the Anze Kopitar line with Dustin Penner has relieved much of the growing pains from Kopitar. With the pressure off, he is blossoming.
The second line finds Mike Richards centering Justin Williams and youngster Dwight King – a rookie we talked about here three months ago.
Defense: Everyone notes the development of Drew Doughty as a Norris Trophy candidate, but Rob Scuderi has already won a Cup in his final season with the Penguins in 2009.
The corps is anything but flashy, but steady, gritty play in front of the net continues to be a constant.
Plus, in the first two games in Missouri, there were often two players – and a couple of times even all three forwards – placing pressure on the forecheck. They kept the Blues bottled up throughout the series.
Goaltending: Jonathan Quick, who allowed a mere six goals in four games against St. Louis in posting a .949 save percentage, may be the leader for the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs.
And with special teams dominating on both ends of the rink, even if you don’t like betting with the Kings – the bandwagon will inflate their price in Round Three – you can still go with the UNDER on totals.
Since falling to Montreal in the ‘93 Cup Final, L.A. had registered just one series victory until downing Vancouver two weeks ago. And if it’s true the Western Conference is the stronger half among NHL teams, could a number eight seed actually hoist the Cup come June?
Don’t worry. I have my fingers crossed. My foot is firmly planted on a crack in the sidewalk.
Devils-Flyers: New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur overcame a slow start in Game four to collect a victory on his 40th birthday. But he has a ton of help in front of the net.
Meanwhile, watching the Flyers is more like watching basketball’s 76ers. They seem much more concerned about making SportsCenter with big hits instead of taking care of business to help Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
There is a time to take the body. There is a time to be responsible with the puck, or in gaining possession. The Flyers rarely do either.
Simple reasons to continue betting the Devils and OVER.
Rangers-Capitals: The teams enter the week even at 2-2. Based on historical data, the winner in Game five (played after press time) is an 85 percent chance of coming out on top.
If that’s the Rangers, you’ll still get the Blueshirts at a near pick ‘em price later in the week in Game six. If the Caps take a 3-2 series lead with a win at MSG, can you really rely on Washington to close out the series on home ice.
And with the “chalk” all but eliminated, the lean is still with NYR.