The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks played the greatest seven-game series in the history of the NHL in the Western Conference Finals. The series was nothing short of a work of art and from a fan’s perspective, it is a shame it had to end. With the Kings winning and clinching their second Stanley Cup Final appearance in three seasons, they have already made history. No team in NHL history has ever played the full 21 games through three rounds and made the Final — the Kings have changed that.
After coming back from being down 3-0 against the San Jose Sharks, the Kings vanquished their fellow Southern California rivals, the Anaheim Ducks, in seven games. During the Western Conference Finals, the Kings were the ones that took command of the series, building a 3-1 series lead over the Blackhawks. It looked like their magic had run out as they were in midst of blowing that 3-1 lead as they trailed in the third period of Game 7 before Marian Gaborik tied the game and Tyler Toffoli won the game, deflecting an Alec Martinez shot in overtime. The resiliency of the Kings was on display as three times in the game they trailed and three times they came back to tie the game.
The mano-a-mano battles between Selke Trophy nominated centers Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Toews were battles for the ages, but they pale in comparison to the showdown that occurred between all-world defensemen Drew Doughty and Duncan Keith. The two Canadian Olympians were out there in all circumstances munching heavy minutes and playing defense at a level rarely seen at any point of the season. While Keith was nominated for the Norris Trophy this season, Doughty was snubbed and seemed to take his anger out on the Blackhawks all series long.
With the New York Rangers on their way to Los Angeles for Game 1 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night, the Kings will have to quickly forget about their great victory and focus on the Broadway Blueshirts. With the resiliency this team has shown all season, that won’t be a problem.
Let the East Coast/West Coast hockey feuds commence!