It all comes down to this and while Sharks fans are more disgruntled than ever now, it is time to crown a champion. Question is, will the champion already have a self given crown on them or will be grasped by a dark mysterious evil from New Jersey. Welcome to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, a matchup no one expected.
The Los Angeles Kings had a season that seemed right out of a Hollywood script. A poor start had many ridicule offseason moves such as Mike Richards and Simon Gagne to finalize a puzzle that looked impossible to finish this season. Former Sharks coach, Darryl Sutter comes in and takes over and the team had it’s ups and downs was in the Pacific Division race up to the final night of the regular season.
In the playoffs, it’s been all different. Playing just 14 games in three rounds, sending the Canucks home in five games, the quickest exit for a President’s Trophy winner. The up and coming St. Louis Blues were swept out of the playoffs after they game San Jose total ownage in the previous round. Then the Phoenix Coyotes just never got on the right track in the Western Conference Final.
For New Jersey, not making the playoffs is a sin. With their cross river rival making much noise at the top of the Eastern Conference, the Devils quietly took the 6th seed but were never considered a serious Stanley Cup threat. But that’s the playoffs, all it takes is a team coming together and shock the world. With Zach Parise (unrestricted free agent come July 1st) and the legendary Martin Brodeur leading the Devils Army, they knew they could shock some people in the hockey world.
While down 3-2 in the series against the Southeast Division champion Florida Panthers, they came back to win in overtime in games 6 & 7 to take a classic series. Rookie Adam Henrique scored the series winner in overtime. After taking care of the Cats, they took on a highly confident Philadelphia Flyers squad who just took out the Pittsburgh Penguins in quick fashion. Philly just couldn’t handle with the Devils game to them and the orange crush was crushed in five games, sending New Jersey to it’s first conference final since their cup run in 2003. Their bitter rival New York Rangers, with a hint of the classic 1994 series still in the franchise’s head, Adam Henrique again stepped up to the task and buried the conference winning goal.
This series is the lowest seeded between two teams since the current playoff format was established in 1993-94. New Jersey returns to the Cup Final in nine years where they defeated the other Southern California hockey team, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in seven games. For LA, it’s their first trip back to the Stanley Cup Final, since a guy named Gretzky led them to the final in 1993, where they lost to Montreal in five games. Since then, no Canadian based team has won it since.
> These two team were both after highly talented and offensively gifted Ilya Kovalchuk a couple of years ago.
> Sharks are linked to both teams: Los Angeles has general manager Dean Lombardi and head coach Darryl Sutter, while New Jersey has former first round pick Steve Bernier playing well on a fourth line that has helped the Devils in this postseason
> Los Angeles has not lost a postseason game on the road since Game 1 of the Western Quarterfinal vs. San Jose.
> All games will begin at 5pm on NBC except Games 3 & 4, those will be on the NBC Sports Network.
This blogger says good luck to both teams, but I’d be lying. Go Devils! I don’t want to see another California based team win the Cup before my beloved Sharks. Sadly, I can’t see that happening. I pick Los Angeles to win in five games. And while the Sharks go through another offseason of what ifs, the Kings are so close from going nowhere with Marc Crawford a few years ago, to a Stanley Cup with the former GM and coach of the San Jose Sharks. What an awful pain that can be.