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|Kings eyeing potential historic run|
|Written by Frank Seravalli|
|Wednesday, 06 June 2012 01:31|
With a win on Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Kings will tie the 1988 Edmonton Oilers for the best postseason record in league history. It's a big step, and it also shows just how historic the Kings' run to the Final has been.On May 26, 1988, Los Angeles Kings forward Jarret Stoll was less than a month shy of his 6th birthday – but the Melville, Saskatchewan, native knows all about the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty, having played for the franchise from 2002 to 2008.
That year, in 1988, the Oilers steamrolled through the playoffs. It took them just 18 games to win 16 times, hoisting the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in five years after sweeping Boston in four quick games.
Think about that for one second. Eighteen games. Sixteen wins.
“I have some memories,” Stoll said on Tuesday in Los Angeles. “It’s a lot different hockey now. They had a great group there for a lot of years.”
After a 4-0 shellacking on Monday night at a raucous Staples Center, Stoll's Kings are on the precipice of pulling off hockey’s most improbable and unbelievable playoff run in league history.
It doesn’t even seem real.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are usually marred by gruesome injuries, ridiculous triumphs, broken bones and players so gassed that they’re barely able to raise the Cup above their heads when it’s all over. The Kings have barely flinched – and they’re somehow getting healthier, adding pieces like two-time All-Star Simon Gagne to their lineup.
Yes, Edmonton’s 16-2 bulldozing through the ’88 playoffs was impressive in its own right. But it doesn’t hold a candle to this current run by the Kings, which can be capped off as soon as Wednesday night in Southern California.
The Kings' record with a win on Wednesday? 16-2.
Since 1987, the first year that 16 wins were required to win the Cup, the champion has finished the playoffs with an average of 6.4 losses. Even if the Kings were to completely fall apart and lose four straight, they’d still fall short of that average over the last 23 springs.
That includes some serious runs.
The 1997 Detroit Red Wings and 1993 Montreal Canadiens finished 16-4; the 1987 Oilers and 2007 Anaheim Ducks were 16-5. A few other teams have entered the Stanley Cup final red hot, only to be extinguished, like the 1992 Chicago Blackhawks (12-2), 1995 Red Wings (12-2) and the 2003 Mighty Ducks (12-2).
Coincidentally, the Devils ran over two of those 12-2 squads in the Final, in 2003 and 1995.
Not this year.
Heading into the series, with the 6th-seeded Devils facing off against the 8th-seeded Kings, the NHL had already guaranteed itself the lowest seed in league history capturing the Cup. The 1995 Devils as the No. 5 seed were the previous low to win it.
Los Angeles has knocked off the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the West already.
The ’88 Oilers had Wayne Gretzky. The ’12 Kings have Anze Kopitar.
Jonathan Quick is doing his best Grant Fuhr impression, though his overall numbers could put him up there with some of the best runs by one goaltender in playoff history.
Most days, it’s tough to remember that this was the same Los Angeles team that fired its coach in December, nearly fired their general manager, acquired a $58 million player in February and struggled to make the postseason.
Their run has made it possible to forget all of that.
Amazingly, they enter Wednesday night’s Game 4 with the opportunity to never play another road game in the playoffs, which would enable them to do something no team has done in the 16-win era: not lose away from home.
That perfection, and the ability to raise Stanley’s shining chalice with a sweep, provides plenty of motivation.
“You ride your confidence as far as you can take it,” Stoll said. “One more to go.”
Sometimes, the other shoe never drops. Not every fairy tale has a fault.
Frank Seravalli covers the Flyers for the Philadelphia Daily News. On Twitter: @DNFlyers.
Photos by Getty Images
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 14:57|