LA Kings Have Taken Down Two Top Teams So Far

Not many thought the Los Angeles Kings could take down the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. The Kings were the eighth seed going up against the President’s Trophy winners and the Kings struggled with consistency all season long. The team did not have many winning streaks, trades had to be made and winning against the Canucks was not seen as a likely possibility.

In that first round, the Kings proved they had something left in them when they eliminated Vancouver in the first round. The Canucks were the defending Western Conference champions and were supposed to make another run at a Cup they lost last season. The only problem was a well coached and determined LA Kings team stood in their way and eliminated them from the playoffs.

Going into the next round, the LA Kings were supposed to be competitive against the St. Louis Blues but not many picked them to win the series. The Blues had become one of the most dominant teams in the NHL since head coach Ken Hitchcock took over early on. The Blues had the tools to win the Cup and two goaltenders who could carry them there.

When the series began, as Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak was sidelines with an injury, the Blues thought Brian Elliott could step up. On the other end of the ice, Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick knew he was going to have a challenge against the fast paced offense that the Blues had become known for in the regular season.

The series began and as Elliott struggled, Quick began to shine.

Elliott struggled early on in the series while Quick shut down a Blues offense that could not keep up. Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and David Backes, TJ Oshie, Patrik Berglund and Andy McDonald were baffled as to how Quick kept stopping their shots and the Kings’s physical play set the tone for the momentum early on. Instead of playing the St. Louis Blues hockey, the Kings were determined to make the Blues play their style instead.

The Kings had the momentum in Game 2 when they got off to a 4-0 lead by the time the first period ended. Not many teams had that strong of a start against the Blues all season long but the Kings threw the Blues off their game and set the tone for the rest of the series.

Game 4 was do a die for the Blues as the Kings entered in with a 3-0 series lead. This was supposed to be the game in which fans would see the series turn around but the Kings had something to say about that.

Kings captain Dustin Brown and teammate Anze Kopitar both set the offensive tone for Game 4 and constantly put pressure on Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. With the score tied at one goal apiece going in the first period, Brown would put one past the shoulder of Elliott to take the lead. Once again, the Kings had the lead and were forcing the Blues to play catchup.

The Blues came out firing in the second and third periods but penalties and superb goaltending by Jonathan Quick preserved the lead. The Blues tried to even it up but Quick was there to make sure the puck never crossed the goal line.

Late in the game, the Kings fans were standing and went nuts when Dustin Brown sailed a shot into the empty net to clinch the 3-1 victory. The Kings had become the only eighth seed to take down a number one and number two seed and were on the way to the Conference Finals.

No one thought the Kings could get this far but with the Conference Finals in their future, they may be looking beyond that round as well.

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~ by jeffrsabo on May 7, 2012.

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