Kings Reign Like a Nacho Supreme
All season long, the Los Angeles Kings were one of the strongest teams in the stronger conference.
And in the end, they had the strength to raise the Stanley Cup.
After leaving the NHL's heavyweights -- San José, Anaheim, and Chicago -- in their wake, the Kings richly deserved their place in a finals where they were formidable favorites, but the surprising New York Rangers still made every stage in the short series interesting. However, Los Angeles simply had too much firepower.
They were also the more disciplined team. This was evident in their methodical approach to a 60-minute arc, and was the telling factor in defenseman Alec Martinez's rebound goal that capped the campaign.
Check out where he starts. The enterprising blueliner gathered the puck in the Kings's slot and saw space down the left wing. It was Trevor Lewis who sprang him, cutting off Benoit Pouliot, who lost a battle for the puck along the boards and was trying to get into position for a centering pass that was deflected by Matt Greene.
Martinez was off to the races, and ultimately, Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello let him drift as he slid over to help defenseman John Moore, who actually had already pushed Tyler Toffoli outside. Huge mistake:
For all the deserved hoopla around Justin Williams and his sense of playoff timing, Martinez is making a habit of clinching series himself.
The Blueshirts' own king, Henrik Lundqvist, was heroic in defeat, possibly stopping more rubber than those who started as a hard charging rhino in that Advil commercial.
Widely regarded as the key factor in forcing a Game 5, the Swede stopped a stunning 48 shots before being exposed on Taffoli's rebound. He's won an Olympic gold and a World Championship in his career, but at 32, the window is closing on his chances at adding a Cup to his collection.
And it wasn't Zuccarello's night. It wouldn't be harsh to say he was victimized by the referee's whistle when he was called for a tripping penalty that could have easily been either a non-call or gone against Jake Muzzin and his lingering leg.
Marian Gaborik notched a power-play marker 18 seconds later, tying the game and shifting the momentum.
All that was left was a string of pipe clangers and barely-wide shots from both sides through to the second overtime, where Martinez sent Tinseltown into hockey heaven.