As it turns out, the Los Angeles Kings didn’t need a Patrick Kane or a Jonathan Toews or a Patrick Sharp. The Kings just needed another Game 7. Los Angeles improved to 3-0 in Game 7s this playoff season, as Alec Martinez (which may be changed to Tyler Toffoli on a tip) scored a game-winning goal 5:47 into overtime in the Kings’ 5-4 win at the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of the NHL‘s Western Conference Final Sunday night.
The Kings showed in one game Sunday night what they have been almost throughout the playoff season — a team that isn’t perfect, that gets down, but one that always seems to rally when it counts and simply cannot be turned away. Once down 0-3 to the San Jose Sharks in the first round of these playoffs, the Kings rallied for four straight victories to capture that series, ousted the Anaheim Ducks in seven, then nearly blew a three-game lead in this series to Chicago before answering the bell in overtime.
In just Sunday’s Game 7 alone, the Kings trailed by scores of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3, before rallying to tie the game on all three occasions. And it was guys like Toffoli, who scored the goal to make it 3-3, and perhaps the game winner, and Williams, who got original credit for the game-winner, who made the difference in the end rather than the stars on either side.
Much has been made of how the winner of this series would steamroll the New York Rangers in the upcoming Stanley Cup Final. But the truth about these Kings is that just wouldn’t be their style. It’s very hard to envision the Kings dispatching of the Rangers in four or five games because they’ve been a bit too inconsistent to do so. No team that has gone so long in the playoffs has been this much in love with two- and three-game losing streaks.
Yet here they are, the Kings, with a somewhat pedestrian 12-9 record in the playoffs, doing what they do best — winning Game 7s. Sunday’s was different than the first two — games against the Sharks and Ducks that the Kings won by four goals on each occasion, outscoring their Golden State opponents 11-3. They had to work for everything against Chicago on Sunday, as you’d figure they would, but the Kings still got the job done.
Whether it’s the goalie, Jonathan Quick, or players like Toffoli, or the seeming rebirth of Marian Gaborik (who made it 4-4 late in the third period), or just the Kings being the Kings, if the Stanley Cup Final goes to a seventh game, Los Angeles is probably a lock to win it. It might be inexplicable and it might frustrate those who don’t like them, but the Kings don’t care. After all, Los Angeles is just four wins (and probably seven games) from a second Stanley Cup in three seasons.