Are the Los Angeles Kings Dancing with Destiny?
Against all odds the Los Angeles Kings have forced a Game 7 against the San Jose Sharks after being down 3-0 in the series. After winning 4-1 at Staples Center (albeit with the game winning goal being “controversial” at best) the Kings are on the verge of being the fourthteam in NHL history to win a series after trailing 3-0. The Kings are on fire and the Sharks are (to put it lightly) back on their heels as L.A.’s mix of speed and physicality has frustrated San Jose in every manner imaginable. As the Sharks question their mental fortitude (and Game 7 starting goalie) the Kings have a bravado and swagger that would make Magic Johnson’s “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers proud.
While the Kings’ forwards and defensemen have been stellar, star goaltender Jonathan Quick has been nasty, literally. Quick stopped all but one of the Sharks’ 26 shots, and once the game was put away he got into it with Sharks’ captain Joe Thornton in manner that would make Ron Hextall proud. Quick at his best is unbeatable as the hockey world saw in 2012, and this is some of Quick’s best hockey which is almost mind boggling given the start of the series. After giving up a combined 12 goals in Games 1 and 2 it looked like Quick was defeated and the team’s play sagged with him. Now after three straight wins with his back against the wall, Quick is playing with an unparalleled level of confidence and has inspired the rest of the team. Knowing their all-world goalie is behind them has given the Kings’ skaters freedom to play their game and play it effectively.
While the team will need to play together as a unit get the win in Game 7, look for Justin Williams be the key to victory and add to his nine points in four career Game 7s. Williams, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty (who put the defense in defenseman with a key block and clear on the penalty kill in the second period) were the Kings’ best players in Game 6 and will need to continue that in Game 7. Given the Sharks’ history of playoff failures and the fact momentum is firmly on the Kings’ side, it would be crazy to pick against them. Besides, having Mike Richards and Jeff Carter who have been in this situation before has to be a good sign, right? (Thanks Paul Holmgren!)