It took 3,506 regular season games and 26 playoff appearances, but the Los Angeles Kings are Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in their 45 year history. Their opponents, the New Jersey Devils, gave the Kings their toughest battle of the playoffs. They took the series to 6 games before finally succumbing to the team that ran through the top 3 seeds of the Western Conference.
Ten minutes into the first period, Steve Bernier ran Rob Scuderi into the boards from behind, resulting in a major penalty. The Kings scored 3 goals on that power play, and dominated the game from that point forward. Warrior-chief Dustin Brown scored the game's first goal--his first in 10 games. He got the ball rolling by looping around the entire offensive zone before tipping in a shot from Drew Doughty in front of the net. Jeff Carter and Trevor Lewis would add two more before the penalty ran out.
What followed was total domination. The Kings continued to out-chance what appeared to be a frustrated Devils group. Even given Bernier's incredibly dumb and inexcusable penalty, the Devils were unable to muster much of a rally afterward. Overall shot attempts ended 57-38, in the Kings favor. The Devils, in fact, had more shorthanded shots on goal for the majority of the game as they did at even strength.
A minute into the 2nd period, Jeff Carter added another goal. Eventually, Ryan Carter and David Clarkson would join Steve Bernier in the locker room with 10 minute misconducts as the referees attempted to keep the game from getting out of hand. For most, Game 6 was an ugly, one-sided affair--but every Kings fan would agree that nothing greater has ever happened on a sheet of ice.
Highlights and more after the jump.
For a Devils perspective visit In Lou We Trust.
The crowd at and around Staples was in a very energetic state, and the atmosphere seemed to give the Kings a jump from the outset. It was fitting that they would be able to finish off the Final in L.A. The fanbase had become a target of derision from other markets due to the bumbling coverage from local media as well as a general "bandwagoning" stigma. The energetic, celebratory end to the series was a great reward for die-hard fans, as well as a way to add excitement and grow the sport among the less initiated.
The Kopitar line was again a force. No team had an answer for them in the playoffs. They had sputtered for moments in terms of goal production, but the amount of time they spent with the puck was consistently effective in wearing down and frustrating their opponents. They did their jobs again tonight.
What had been inconsistent was the effectiveness of the second line. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Dustin Penner would at times be dominant (Game 2) but then seemingly disappear without a trace (Game 5). Tonight both lines were feeling it, as Jeff Carter (2 goals, 6 attempts) was especially electric. He seemed destined for a hat trick, zipping around the ice and getting unexpected and astonishingly quick wrist shots off multiple times. Mike Richards also pitched in with two assists and a 77% faceoff win percentage. That line being on their game is what sealed it.
The defensive pairing of Willie Mitchell and Slava Voynov also had an effective game. The pair, especially Voynov, had become a target of scorn among the fanbase of late due to giving up more than their fair share of scoring chances in the series. They were good in Game 5 and seemed to improve on that tonight. The Devils were only able to get one shot on net when Voynov was on the ice and the pair was the only one among the Kings defensive core to come out with a positive possession grade. They were a big reason why Jonathan Quick didn't have a heavy workload tonight.
The hero of Game 6, however was Dustin Brown. He scored 3 points, had 5 attempts and 4 hits to go with his general peskiness (not to mention his weird-beard). As Captain, he came through with a big performance in as big of a setting as there possibly could be. It was a resounding triumph for Brown, who had an embattled regular season where his ability to lead seemed to be constantly called into question. In addition, there were the rumors of him being dangled as trade bait around the deadline. That is all now a distant memory thanks to Brown's playoff performance.
This season was full of unrest and upheaval. A coaching change, a blockbuster trade, and long periods of under-performance. The Kings' first championship banner that will soon hang at Staples Center will now be the enduring legacy of this tumultuous season.
Darryl Sutter is happy:
Jonathan Quick's daughter took over the post game press conference: