This dude looks happy. Wonder why? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
So this is new.
Here we are, sitting around and waiting for the Western Conference Finals to start. I guess that's not new, for those of us who continue watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs after the Kings are eliminated at least, but the part where we actually all know what team we're cheering for? Yeah, that part's new.
No looking at the two rosters of each Western Conference finalist to figure out which one has more ex-Kings. No trying to figure out which team's fans would be less obnoxious and annoying if they actually hoisted the Cup. Not this year. Instead, we wait, an odd mixture of anticipation mixed with nervousness bordering on nausea flowing through our veins. These last few days will probably feel like an eternity, so in the meantime, I've got some links for you to read. After the jump.
- Helene Elliott gets us started with a look ahead at the aforementioned Conference Finals. Lots of quotes from various Kings, from the head coach on down, on the similarities between these two teams and the Coyotes' team speed. A good point from the article that I hadn't thought about before: Radim Vrbata, he of the 35 goals in the 11-12 regular season, only has 2 goals in the playoffs so far. That could either comfort or concern you, I guess, depending on how you want to look at it. [LA Times]
- I think we would all agree that the fourth line for the Kings has been a fantastic revelation in these playoffs so far; a huge part of going 8-1 against the top two seeds in the playoffs has been Darryl Sutter's ability to simply roll all four lines and get contributions from the entire line-up, and they've been a huge part of that. Here's a quickie piece from Rich Hammond with some stats & quotes from Colin Fraser. [Kings Insider]
- Do you, like me, get a warm fuzzy feeling when a national media outlet takes notice of one our guys? Then you'll love Eric Duhatschek's piece from earlier in the week on the captain, Dustin Brown, basically a love letter towards our wonderful captain. Also the headline was kinda awesome ("No Kings' speeches for Dustin Brown"). [Globe & Mail]
- Gann Matsuda checks in with an excellent piece from Kings' practice yesterday, discussing what's changed and stayed the same since Darryl Sutter took over the team from Terry Murray. As someone who liked Murray, it's good to see him getting credit for the Kings' continued excellence in their own end. In case you don't remember, this team was pretty damn awful at playing defense before he took over. Even the biggest TM hater should give him some credit. But on the other hand, of course Sutter opened things up for them and deserves credit for their turnaround. Yes, a Sutter took over behind the bench and allowed a team to play MORE offense. That's....yeah. [Frozen Royalty]
- So we've talked about the coaching, how about we hear from the GM? Mayor's Manor has you covered on this front, as he talked with Dean Lombardi yesterday. Some awesome quotes in there. DL points to early March as a major turning point, as the Kings dropped that horrible game in Detroit (remember, up 3-2 late in the 3rd and somehow failed to get even a single point?) then came home to a tough homestand and really battled hard to stay in the playoff picture against some really good teams. Also plenty of quotes that will make you feel all warm-and-fuzzy inside if you were around back when this team was godawful. [MM]
- In case you haven't heard, there's been a huge push on Twitter and elsewhere to get Bob Miller & Jim Fox calling the Kings on NBC. It's probably not possible for contractual reasons, but it's a nice sentiment. Sully & Scribe have all the details including a form letter if you'd like to make your voice heard as quickly as humanly possible. [S&S]
- Speaking of Jim Fox, if you're tired of reading things by now, All the Kings Men podcast have a quickie 12-minute interview with him wrapping up the last round and looking ahead to Phoenix. There's also a much longer recap of Game 4 against the Blues & the series in general, if you'd like to check that out. [AtKM]
- Back to the LA Times, Helene has a charming piece on Jordan Nolan and his family. [LA Times]
- Were you not around for the last time the LA Kings made a run to the conference finals? That's understandable, given it was, oh yeah, 19 years ago. Luckily our friend the Royal Half, with an assist to a guy on Twitter, has you covered via YouTube. [TRH]
- Life in Hockeywood breaks down the video on AEG's plans for a new LA football stadium, including a very curious inclusion: the Winter Classic flag. [LiH]
- Finally, with all these good vibes going on right now, would you like a big splash of cold water to the face? Well here's Justin Bourne over at the Backhand Shelf with his thoughts on how the Coyotes can beat the Kings in the WCF. Someone just got removed from my Christmas card list (or they would if I had one). [BS]
Other NHL News
- So last night the Philadelphia Flyers were eliminated, as the New Jersey Devils channeled the LA Kings and knocked out a highly favored opponent in just 5 games. Remember how all the talk in Round 1 was how the Carter & Richards trades were working out for everyone but Columbus? I think we can now officially say they're working out just a tad bit better for Los Angeles than Philadelphia, eh? [In Lou We Trust] [Broad Street Hockey]
- Sticking with the Flyers for a second, their fans are suing over Winter Classic ticket policy. At least they're not going to have anymore playoffs to distract them from what's really important, I guess. [Puck Daddy]
- James Mirtle at the Globe & Mail dispels the widely-held myth that the referees put away their whistles in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Quite the opposite, in fact. [G&M]
- Tonight: it's Game 6 of the only series remaining, as the #7 Washington Capitals host the #2 New York Rangers (4:30 pm PST/NBC Sports Network). Even if you don't really like the Rangers, I suggest you root for them tonight just to give us an earlier start to Kings-Coyotes. Multiple sources on Twitter are suggesting a Saturday start if the Rangers-Caps series wraps-up tonight. On the other hand, a Game 7 for Rangers-Caps won't be played until Saturday night, which would mean our series would be looking at a Sunday start at the earliest.
Alright folks, you know the drill: add your own links, let me know if I screwed anything up, follow me on Twitter if you so desire (@kinghawkranger). Until next time, WE'RE IN THE CONFERENCE FINALS! WOOOOOOOO~!