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Stanley Cup

Lord Stanley Comes Home: The 2012 NHL Champion Los Angeles Kings

After 45 long years, your Los Angeles Kings are champions of the National Hockey League.

Last night’s 6-1 victory was certainly an appropriate coronation for a team that has been playing amazing hockey since March 1st.

Not much explanation is needed to understand how the Kings got here at this point (strong defense + new coach + unbelievable goaltending + Dustin Brown = title), but I would like to take this moment to go over the  numbers the Kings have accrued on this championship run.

BY THE NUMBERS

102 – Games played by the Kings (not including the pre-season)

16 – Amount of wins it takes to be a champion in the NHL playoffs
4 – Total losses for the Kings over the last 2 months of playoff hockey
6 – Total losses for the Kings SINCE MARCH 1st

4 – Amount of series the Kings began with 3-0 leads
1 – Teams in NHL history to beat the #1, 2, and 3 seeds to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals
26 – Age of Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick
3 – Total American born players to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, including Quick
20 – Points scored by Anze Kopitar/ Dustin Brown throughout the playoffs
8 – Goals for Dustin Brown (two of which came in Game 6)
3 – Shutouts for Jonathan Quick
.946 – Save percentage for Quick
45 – Years it took for Los Angeles to bring Lord Stanley home
18 – Games watched on my couch with Little Que-Ese bringing strong juju (16-2 record)
Every time I watch hockey I am reminded why I love it. It is a sport that values the team over the individual in all aspects, as it is the only major sport that has a tradition of TEAMS shaking hands AFTER a series. Every player lines up after spending weeks trying to obliterate each other to say “good game” and give a pat on the back. After the NBA Finals, SuperBowl, or World Series, the first move by each team is not to seek out their competition and congratulate them on a great year. And yet there I am watching Jonathan Quick hug it out with Marty Brodeur after the game.
   
Devils fans can point to the referees as the cause for their demise in Game 6 (with reason, the call on Bernier was circumspect after the no call on Stoll) but I think they were screwed from the drop of the puck. Dustin “Oh Captain My Captain” Brown decided he was going to show up last night, regardless of what game plan the Devils scripted. So much of the Kings success has been spurred by Brown’s leadership. He was all over the ice last night, scoring two goals and leading the charge on defense.
Last night’s coronation was a celebration of the team that drove this improbable run. Jeff Carter, who struggled much of the season to find his stroke, had two goals. Jarret Stoll (an unrestricted free-agent this summer) won face-off after face-off. Rob Scuderi bled all over the ice and refused to miss any time. The boys just weren’t letting the Cup leave Los Angeles again.
Much will be made of this team and the young core that has driven them to the championship. The folks on television seem to think this is a team to be reckoned with for years to come because of their skill and youth and I couldn’t help but agree with the talking heads. However, I believe this team is going to be solid for years to come for a very different reason: they are a TEAM.
Immediately upon being handed the Cup, “Oh Captain My Captain” found the oldest man on the roster, Willie Mitchell. The defenseman, age 35, was not the fastest man on the roster, nor was he a vaunted home grown prospect. Instead, he was the steady hand that helped guide the youngsters to the Promised Land. He was the bearded voice of reason who allowed new arrivals this season to settle into the… Read more...

2012 Stanley Cup Preview

The Stanley Cup matchup couldn’t have worked out better for THE GREAT MAMBINO. Our resident NHL expert, Pucklius, will be on the precipice of a heart attack, as he roots for Devils legend Martin Brodeur to hoist the trophy one more time. Que-Ese, TGM’s favorite utilityman and promoter-extraordinaire, is on the other side, cheering for the Kings of the city of angels.

We’ve been giving you previews all along the way as these teams have fought through battle after battle just to have their names etched next to Lord Stanley. But for this final round, I asked Puck and Que one question:

Who has the better playoff atmosphere?

We’ll get to predictions at the very end just to keep things real, but because you guys come here for stuff you can’t find anywhere else, here’s the fan’s perspective on the aforementioned question.

Que-Ese: Better playoff atmosphere? Anywhere but LA.

As far as the Kings are concerned, every game of the Finals should be played in New Jersey. Its not shocking to find out that the Kings have played well on the road in places where hockey really matters (again, anywhere but Los Angeles). For some reason, the boys have responded to playing the role of the underdog spoiler. They have been so successful at feeding off the opposing crowd that they have set a record this postseason for most consecutive playoff road victories (8 and counting!). Jeff Carter put it best after game 2 in Phoenix about the Kings’ road success.

“I think it’s just a mindset. We get away, there’s no distractions. The guys are together. The coaches have us well-prepared. For some reason this team… likes to play on the road.”

That’s not to say it’s easy to play in Los Angeles. Both teams have to play on the worst ice in the NHL, and the Devils will have to deal with our fairly raucous fans. If I was to rank playoff home crowds in LA based on intensity/passion inside the building, I would rank it:

1. Clippers (that hurt to type)
2. Dodgers
3. Kings
4. Lakers

Now that the Kings are trendy, watch for more celebrities in the crowd and a whole lot more of this:

Pucklius: Better playoff atmosphere – Madison Square Garden.

What’s that? The Devils don’t play home games at MSG? That’s funny since they seemed plenty comfortable there last week (Heyooooo).

Seriously though folks, the Prudential Center isn’t exactly known for its wild home fans — the crowds can be extremely sparse when you go to a Tuesday night game in January against Winnipeg. But as a man who has been in the stands for three games at the Rock during this playoff run, I can say that the playoff atmosphere has been right up there with the best of them. It probably hasn’t hurt that New Jersey wound up playing its two biggest rivals in consecutive rounds in Philadelphia and the Rangers, but even in Round 1 against the ambivalence-inducing Florida Panthers the crowd was rocking after each Devils goal.

That said, the constant direction from the P.A. to “Wave your towels!” and “Get on your feet” could basically have said, “We think our fans don’t know how to properly cheer at a game” and had the same impact, but the results are all that matters most of the time, and for New Jersey the results have been there. Much has been made of the Kings and their perfect road record in the postseason — rightfully so — but the Devils’ 6-2 home mark is the best in the postseason, too. And that can’t be taken lightly. Devils fans are there, and the… Read more...

Watching YOUR…Los Angeles Kings: The Power of JUJU

Since the Kings have begun their playoff run, I have contributed to every single game they have won by providing my unique form of support…my juju.
Juju is what I define as the fan’s ability to impact games. Active fans of every sport can identify with what I am talking about. That feeling that if you just wear the right clothes and follow the correct routine, you can impact the team in a positive way. You can call it superstition, or stupidity, but you know what I call it.
I have been a believer in the power of juju for years. I started out watching Bruins and Lakers games on TV finding that if I sat in a particular spot on the couch, teams were more likely to win. The science behind these beliefs is inexact but based on personal experience; juju is a very real and powerful tool for any professional sports team.
It may be the longing to belong to a team or the desire to put my own energy into a game, but following the tenants of juju closely makes me feel more engaged with the game on TV and tied to any successes or failures. Just as a good fan should.

EMPLOYING THE RECENTLY PERFECTED JUJU FOR THE KINGS PLAYOFF RUN

What I wear: Old school Kings Sweater. I say old school because right after I invested in this jersey (the most expensive piece of sports paraphernalia I own) the Kings decided to switch to their smooth new black and white jerseys. I will also match the jersey with a pair of old basketball shorts (dark blue Nikes to be precise).  
Where I sit: My 55 inch LED flatscreen is surrounded by three couches aligned in a U-formation. I have found that sitting on the far right seat of the middle couch has been incredibly beneficial for the Kings fore-check.

Who is with me: I have been joined by my brother (Little Que-Ese) lying on the white couch to my left for 11 of the 12 Kings victories. He also has his own Juju (particularly how he places the blanket and which blanket he uses) and I respect the intensity he brings to watching the Kings.
Big and Little Que-Ese Starting Their  Unique Juju Stylings Early On
So to run a little experiment on how effective my juju has been during this recent NHL playoff run by the Kings, I went cold turkey. I didn’t follow any of the habits I had developed over the previous 11 wins and hoped the Kings would be good enough to win the Western Conference on their own.
I watched the Los Angeles Kings duke it out in a nail-biter with the Phoenix Coyotes ALONE. Little Que-Ese (LQ-E) has started summer school classes and has wrongfully prioritized mastering organic chemistry over helping carry our Kings to the Stanley Cup.
So I was alone on my couch when the following timeline took place:
1st Period

4:20 –  Taylor Pyatt tips-in the first Coyotes goal. I am not too nervous. I am wearing sweatpants and a white v-neck undershirt. I figure without LQ-E there, my juju will be useless even if I am wearing the appropriate gear.
11:13 – Anze Kopitar scores the equalizer. I am feeling a tad better but after the period I text friend of Mambino, Dangerous Dave “Fuck me, we look like shit.”
The period ends and I am still wearing my same outfit and *gulp* sitting on the white couch that runs the length of the front of my house. That’s right, not only am I missing my partner in juju AND not wearing my Kings gear, I am on the wrong couch. What happens next only confirms how close I came to costing the Kings a victory.
2nd Period
6:23 – Marc-Antione Pouliot scores a backhanded goal with an assist from “that punk Klesla” (TM pending). Kings look more aggressive to start the period but the Yotes are really bringing pressure in the neutral zone.

2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Primer

So, once every year — let’s call it, “spring time” — people remember that not only is hockey going on, but it’s playoff time. Now every sport’s playoff time is better than its regular season (take note, BCS) due to the increased stakes and the ratcheted-up intensity that results from it. Out of all of the major sports postseasons we see in North America, the Stanley Cup Playoffs stand out above them all as the best.

Don’t buy it? Let me count the ways.

1) That marathon quality

Both the NHL and NBA have postseasons that last four full rounds of best-of-seven series that whittle 16 teams down to one, and there is certainly an argument to be made that the NBA is a physically grueling experience. Just ask a 6’7″ man how it feels to pound his knees by jumping for 48 minutes every night on a hardwood floor for two straight months. But all that said, the sheer exhaustion and physical nature of the game of hockey truly creates a situation with speed, strength and durability, which allow the cream to rise to the top over those two months. It is a brutally exhausting experience to get through four rounds of postseason hockey. And that’s probably why seeing the smiles — and frowns — on the faces of the teams in the Finals is that much more remarkable once its over. Oh, and these guys are all making these world-class moves on quarter-inch thick pieces of metal. Food for thought.

2) Playoff beards

Is there any postseason superstition cooler than the refusal to shave until you’ve been eliminated or won it all? Not only does it provide some of the best beard and hair combos ever, but in the game of hockey it’s nearly impossible to see a player looking whiskery and not know it’s playoff time. It can accentuate the experience of the greats and sometimes, it just looks so damn awesome.

3) Multiple overtime games

There is almost no postseason that brings overtime to such a fever pitch of excitement quite like the NHL’s. The difficulty of scoring in the NHL, as well as its sometimes precarious nature, combine with sudden death rules to make marathon events in that can sometimes reach a level of greatness. Sometimes, you never want them to end, and sometimes it feels like they never will end. Games reaching double overtime are so common place in the postseason that it almost doesn’t warrant a mention, but every year has a game or two with four or five overtimes that bring an epic importance. And what’s even greater, the cathartic explosion when a team finally ends one of them is a moment unlike any other in sports.

4) The Stanley Cup

I mean, come on. What sport can boast a trophy like this? There is no other prize in professional sports that can come close to the beauty, grandeur and the symbolism embodied by the Stanley Cup. Does anyone remember how uncomfortable Raymond Berry looked when he awarded the Lombardi Trophy to the New York Giants after they won the Super Bowl this February? Well, you should since it was hilarious, but you probably don’t and that’s because no matter how hard the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball try, there is simply nothing on this level.

So there you have it. These are four solid reasons why this is the greatest postseason in professional sports and if I were you, I’d be trying to watch as much of it as humanly possible. And in case you were worried, you’ll get to watch as much as you want this time around because for the first time in NHL history, every single playoff game will be broadcast live on a national network Read more...