Stanley Cup Final: Three Down, One to GO!
When the “Great One” makes a comment, people listen. Last night at Staples Center in Los Angeles, he was quoted as saying that “this is one of the greatest playoff runs he has seen.” Of course Wayne Gretzky didn’t have to look very hard, since his 1988 Edmonton Oilers posted a 16-2 playoff record while wining the Stanley Cup. The 16-2 record of the 1988 Edmonton Oilers is the best mark since the NHL adopted the current format of four rounds of best-of-seven-series.
Wayne’s comments were directed of course at the Los Angeles Kings great playoff run of 15-2 thus far. With a win Wednesday night in Los Angeles, the Kings can tie the great 1988 Edmonton team with a 16-2 record while winning the Stanley Cup.
Game three on Monday night ended with the same type of result as games one and two in that the Kings came out the winner. This time, the Kings put the game away late in the second period. With the Kings leading at the end of two periods, 2-0, the New Jersey Devils looked deflated. The Devils did come out strong in game three, however could not put anything past Jonathan Quick. The night was filled with timely and magnificent saves by Quick, who has an amazing 1.36 goals against average and a .95 save % during this years playoffs. In addition, Quick has 3 shutouts and is 15-2. Yet, the Kings are not one dimensional. They have top skill forwards, a great defense and an attitude of “refuse to lose.” They are one of the few teams in the NHL that have the equivalent of two top lines. Anze Kopitar centers a line with Captain Dustin Brown and Justin Williams. Kopitar’s line accounted for 5 points last night in a lopsided 4-0 victory over the Devils. Center Mike Richards has forwards Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner on his line which accounted for 2 points last night, however they put major pressure on the Devils all night. No matter which of the top lines are out, the pressure that is put on the Devils can be overwhelming and eventually leads to spectacular goals like the second goal of the game where Kopitar took a beautiful pass from Brown.
The Kings seem like a team of destiny. The franchise has never won a Stanley Cup and in 45 years has been to the finals only one other time losing to Montreal in 1993.