Is it just me, or was it weird seeing the Los Angeles Kings in control of a series this postseason?
After rallying from a 3-0 hole in the opening round against the San Jose Sharks, and then coming back from a 3-2 deficit versus the Anaheim Ducks the next series, seeing the Kings take a significant series lead was just kind of odd. Apparently, not feeling comfortable with their 3-1 lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals, L.A. put itself under the barrel of the gun yet again as their opponent won two straight and forced a Game 7. And, wouldn’t you know it, they ended up coming out on top again.
Despite falling behind three separate times to Chicago in Game 7, the Kings just kept coming. Down 2-0? No problem, tie game. Giving back the lead just 12 seconds later? No biggie, tied 3-3. Fall behind yet again? Eh, they’ll just tie it late in the third. And for an extra dose of drama, the Kings then scored the goal that mattered most, an overtime winner which sent them to the Cup Finals and the Blackhawks home for good.
At this point, L.A. might as well ask the league if they can spot the New York Rangers a 3-0 series lead before the Stanley Cup Finals even start.
Is there a reason why Los Angeles just seems to play better when desperation is peaking? Is something appealing about shaving one to two years-per-game off their fan base’s life expectancy thanks to all this drama? There must be, because the Kings couldn’t fend off the pesky, never-say-die Blackhawks until it appeared Chicago was on the verge of advancing.
Now, despite staring elimination in the eye for the third straight series, L.A. instead finds itself in the Cup Finals for the second time in three years. There just doesn’t seem to be anything that can rattle this team right now.
The Kings became the first club in NHL history to win three Game7s on the road in the same postseason. Each time, they came in with odds heavily favoring them, this time especially. With two chances to finish off the Blackhawks, they weren’t able to get the job done. It wasn’t for lack of effort, as Chicago had to pull off comebacks of their own to win Games 5 and 6. However, with the defending champs forcing the series back to Chicago and what was sure to be a deafening United Center, it sure seemed like Lady Luck was no longer smiling on the Kings.
And in spite of this, or maybe even because of it, it’s L.A. who gets the chance to play for the Stanley Cup. Kings fans may not love the incessant need for their team to be up against the wall, but as long as they prevail in the end, it probably doesn’t matter. Because, in the high-stakes world of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, that’s the team you need to be. The word “impossible” doesn’t have any place in the L.A. locker room.
This is how the Kings have played through this postseason. Sitting in the driver’s seat, as they were with a 3-1 lead over Chicago, apparently wasn’t dramatic enough. But faced with yet another road Game 7, and falling behind multiple times throughout it, Los Angeles just ended up doing what they do best. They came through when you thought they couldn’t any more.