One year ago today, the Western Conference Final came to an immensely satisfying conclusion. In hindsight, it was a lot like Mad Men. The conclusion came on a Sunday night, the series itself was critically acclaimed, and as the credits rolled, some were thrilled, some were confused, and everyone was mentally trying to figure out where it stood in the annals of history.
The game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks on June 1, 2014 managed to live up to the hype, but after a year, certain moments from that game have outshined others. Patrick Sharp breaking his slump with a bizarre goal, and following it up with a crucial go-ahead goal. Marian Gaborik knotting things up. Jonathan Quick's stunning save with five seconds left. And of course, Alec Martinez sending the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final. So let's look back on this game by looking at ten things you may have forgotten.
- It was the rare game where the luck evened out
The lasting legacy of Game 7 itself was neatly outlined by the legendary Bob Cole after Martinez's shot deflected in: "It's another strange-looking goal!" In a series that was so well-played, it was odd to see so many bounces in both directions, but to most people's relief, both teams got their fair share. Tyler Toffoli and Jonathan Toews both tucked crazy deflections into open nets. Patrick Sharp and Alec Martinez each saw their shots take a major bounce on the way in. Brandon Saad and Marian Gaborik both scored on sharply angled shots which tipped off the goalie and in. Plenty of people bemoaned the freakish nature of the deciding goal, but it simply followed the trend.
- A small earthquake struck Southern California shortly after Marian Gaborik tied the game
If the game was happening at Staples, you never would have heard the end of this. As it was, a 4.2 earthquake hit about 15 miles outside downtown Los Angeles at 7:36 PM Pacific. Gaborik's game-tying goal was scored at 7:27 PM. Maybe it's because I was four miles from the epicenter, but I spent the rest of the game trying to figure out whether this was a good omen.
- Game 7 wasn't the most exciting game of the series
Game 7 had the higher stakes, but Game 5 was the one that everyone calls back to when discussing how good this series was. I still think a book could be written about the first overtime, in which it took 26 minutes to play 20 minutes of hockey. For now, just read what Sean McIndoe wrote about it.
- It was the first Game 7 EVER with a five-goal first period
How did the Kings manage to hang around when they didn't even get a shot in the vicinity of Corey Crawford during the first half of the second period? Your guess is as good as mine.
went ten minutes without an unblocked shot attempt
- Alec Martinez was just making up for losing the game-winning goal in Game 6.
The two goals scored by Chicago in the final ten minutes of Game 6 put LA fans in a really pessimistic mood. (2/3 of JftC readers thought the Kings would lose Game 7 as a result.) The effect for Alec Martinez? He lost a potential series-winning goal, as his power play goal with 12:22 left would have been the difference. Martinez was so angry that he scored two series-winners to make up for it.
- Dustin Brown might have been the best player on the ice.
To put it lightly, Dustin Brown had an off-year in 2014-15. It's easy to forget, though, that he scored exactly as many points as he did in 2013-14, when his largest contributions were not on the scoresheet. That changed in the playoffs, and specifically, in Games 4-7 of this series. Brown had six points in the four games, and topped it off with a terrific Game 7. Brown had eight shots on goal, and two of them led directly to rebounds which were deposited by Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik. The second one was all Brown, as he created room for himself entering the zone and somehow got off a shot which Crawford couldn't handle. Brown's contributions have been forgotten to an extent, but they were crucial in Game 7.
Chicago, quite notably, has essentially been playing with four full-time defensemen in the playoffs. Kimmo Timonen, Kyle Cumiskey, and David Rundblad have been rotating in for hilariously small amounts of ice time this year, but last year, Michal Rozsival and Nick Leddy filled a similar role. This year? Rozsival is injured, and Leddy is a New York Islander who's actually getting a ton of responsibility. In Game 7, they combined for 25 minutes of ice time, but there they were as Martinez lined up from the point.
were sheltering defensemen last year, too
- There was a legitimate movement to pull Jonathan Quick
Remember that Patrick Sharp goal? There was some serious debate in the comments of our gamethread about whether we should pull Jonathan Quick after allowing three goals on seven shots.
- That was the last time Chicago lost a game in which they led after 40 minutes
After their win over Anaheim on Saturday, the Hawks moved to 32-0-0 this season when leading after two periods.
What else do you remember about this one? Tell us in the comments.