History was made last night, as your Los Angeles Kings became the first team to ever lead 3-0 in all four rounds of the playoffs. The Kings are now one win away from tying Edmonton's record 16-2 playoff in 1988, but more importantly they're one win away from their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
I'm not going to lie, I get emotional just thinking about it right now. This team is so impressive on so many levels, but here's one I want to throw out there: unlike a couple of other recent teams that took their time and rebuilt through the draft, the Kings never drafted 1st overall. 2010 champions Chicago famously moved up from 5th to 1st as a result of winning the draft lottery in 2007, where they selected Finals overtime hero Patrick Kane. 2009 champions Pittsburgh selected first overall twice, taking Sidney Crosby with the 2005 pick and Marc-Andre Fleury (lol) in 2003. They also picked 2nd overall in 2004 (Evgeni Malkin) & 2006 (Jordan Staal), so yeah, that was a pretty amazing run of high picks there.
The Kings, on the other hand, picked 2nd once (Drew Doughty, 2008), 4th (Thomas Hickey, 2007), and 5th (Brayden Schenn, 2009). Doughty is obviously a huge contributor and Schenn brought them Mike Richards, but Hickey is approaching on bust territory at this point. It's a huge credit to the Kings scouting staff, of both GMs Dave Taylor & Dean Lombardi, that the Kings were able to find gems with later picks. Lombardi of course augmented the team with some fantastic trades, with the exclamation point being his larcenous grab of Jeff Carter from Columbus at this year's trade deadline, and here we are.
Yes, it was a rebuild, and yes, the Kings sucked for a while, but the talent roster they've assembled almost entirely through draft picks & trades (only two UFAs on the entire roster) with only one 2nd overall pick and not a single 1st is all kinds of amazing. Perhaps the only thing more amazing is that Lombardi has managed the cap so well, the Kings will never be staring down at a post-2010 Chicago situation. They will probably lose a couple really good players, but the core of this team is locked-up for at least a few more seasons. In short, it's a wonderful time to be a fan of this once-woeful franchise.
Links after the jump!
Game 3 Recaps
- Over at the LA Times, Helene Elliott is ready to call this one following the Kings 4-0 victory, and it's hard to disagree with her. [LA Times] Bill "Hey guys I just found out hockey exists now!" Plaschke focuses in on the crowd, which was indeed one of the loudest buildings I've ever heard. He also throws in a really weird reference to a really random New Jersey town- Hackensack? really?- for some reason. [LA Times] Lisa Dillman has our last of the Times Game 3 recaps. [LA Times]
- Rich Hammond has your game notes with a lot of amazing stats from last night's game. [Kings Insider]
- A.J. Perez has another recap over at Fox Sports West, in which he for some reason refers to the Kings as a team in "black and purple". Uhhhhh....what? You like colorblind or something bro? Accidentally watch a game from last season instead? [FS West]
- Justin Bourne over at the Backhand Shelf calls out the Devils for playing with a "lack of stones" in Game 3. Remember Zach Parise trying to backcheck Anze Kopitar? That was pretty awesome. [BS]
- In today's edition of "pretty pictures" we'll turn to ex-Leafs beat reporter Howard Berger. He's got a ton of pictures in his photoblog from Game 3, including some great shots of the overall atmosphere before the game. [Berger Bytes]
- On the Devils side of things, John Fischer has another amazingly thorough recap of Game 3. He's pretty realistic about their chances (or lack thereof) of coming back in this series, and he spends a pretty minimal amount of time on the lack of a whistle for the first Kings goal. Imagine if that happened against Vancouver....VanCityDan's recap would have been about the size of an unabridged War & Peace without mentioning anything else in the game. [In Lou We Trust]
- Keeping it in Jersey, the Star-Ledger has another recap focusing in on NJ's godawful power play (0 for 6 last night, including a full minute of 5-on-3). I guess no one told them that LA's penalty kill is really this good. [NJ.com]
Other Kings News
- Interesting article over at Puck Drunk Love wondering aloud if the success of all these ex-Flyers that GM Paul Holgrem shipped out of town will end up costing him his job. I can't even imagine the strange mix of emotions Flyers fans must have watching Carter & Richards play like they did last night for the Kings. [PDL]
- Speaking of ex-Flyers, here's some quick video from after last night's game as the Mayor got to talk to Simon Gagne about his stunning return to the lineup last night. Words cannot even describe how thrilled I am to know he's gonna get his name on the Cup. Gagne is one of the classiest players in the league, a guy who even the most fervent of Flyers haters probably didn't have one nasty thing to say about back when he was there. And obviously when you look at all the unfortunate concussion problems he's had, this is almost a storybook ending for him. [Mayor's Manor]
- Frozen Royalty had a story yesterday spotlighting Drew Doughty. Here's an interesting question for all of you: given the way things worked out for both teams and knowing what you know today, let's say LA wins the 2008 draft lottery and gets the 1st overall pick. Do you take Doughty or Steven Stamkos? This might sound insane, but knowing what I know now, I take Doughty and it's not even close. [FR]
- Back to the LA Times, David Wharton has a look ahead to Wednesday's Game 4, as the Kings will prepare to play a desperate New Jersey squad. I honestly have to wonder how much the Devils will really have left to give after losing like they did last night; if any of you missed their post-game interviews, they looked pretty much broken. [LA Times]
- The Kings obviously made some amazing trades (Justin Williams, possibly the most underrated player in the NHL, for Patrick O'Sullivan, a guy not even in the league today, is one that almost no one talks about but is nearly on Jack Johnson-for-Jeff Carter levels at this point) on their way to this 15-2 run. Jon Rosen breaks down all the various trades in detail. [FS West]
Other NHL News
- Some of you may have noticed that Sidney Crosby was at last night's game. He's preparing to be involved on the upcoming CBA negotiations, and hopefully given his relationship with the league he can be a strong voice for compromise. [Pro Hockey Talk]
- Michel Therrien will return to coach the Montreal Canadiens next season. In totally unrelated news, some cop cars just got set on fire in Montreal. [TSN]
- Keeping things in the theme of "Habs fans are not happy with their coaching hire..." [Puck Daddy]
Bonus time! Since we've talked so much about trades and how certain players were acquired, here's Geoff Detweiler from SB Nation's excellent Flyers blog, Broad Street Hockey, with his own imagining of how the Carter trade talks went down between Lombardi & Columbus GM Scott Howson.
Lombardi: Scott, I hear you’re willing to trade Rick Nash.
Howson: I told you that??
Lombardi: No, Scott, but it’s not a secret. I’m calling to see what you want for him.
Howson: Oh. Well, I love Rick Nash. I think he’s one of the best players in the league and as such, demand Drew Doughty and your best young center.
Lombardi: Sorry, Scott. I will not trade Doughty. He’s too valuable to us.
Howson: Damn. Well, what will you trade me?
Lombardi: I think the young center you mean is Andrei Loktionov?
Howson: YES! What else?
Lombardi: Well, you know he’s Russian, right? I seem to remember you having problems with Russians in Columbus.
Howson: Ohhhh. Poopie. Russians don’t like Columbus. Not enough parks.
Lombardi: So what I can do, Scott, is lower my asking price, but offer you someone who is almost exactly like Drew Doughty. What do you say about Jeff Carter for Jack Johnson?
Howson: Johnson? Is he Russian?
Lombardi: Nope. He’s American!
Howson: I mean… Throw in a first round pick.
Lombardi: You’re a shrewd negotiator, Scott. I hate to part with those two pieces, but I want to help you out. Should I call this in?
Howson: Call it in where?
Lombardi: Great talking to you, Scott!
Actually you know what, for all we know that's exactly how it happened, so let's just go ahead and assume he was transcribing it from a secret tape-recorder in Howson's office. If you have time definitely go check out their game thread from last night. That was just one gem of many throughout. Thanks Geoff!
As always, throw in your own links, correct me if I screwed any up, etc. etc. And remember to chime in on my question from earlier: if you knew what we know today, do you take Doughty or Stamkos with the 1st overall pick in 2008? Am I insane for saying Doughty or do you feel the same way?
One more win! Go Kings Go!