It was a little disappointing when the Los Angeles Kings didn't win game four of the Stanley Cup Finals to sweep the New Jersey Devils, but then they went and lost game five, which was something I should thank them for. I didn't get to see the fifth game because I was working (haven't been able to say that in a long time), but the Kings loss meant a game six this evening, and I got to park my keester in front of the television to watch franchise history.
In the first period, a major penalty gave the Kings the early chance. Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, and Trevor Lewis each put the puck in the net during that five-minute power play to put the Kings up 3-0. Early in the second period, Carter added a goal to made the score 4-0, but New Jersey got on the board late in the period, and the score at the second intermission was 4-1. In the third, Lewis had an empty-netter on a delayed penalty, and just 15 seconds later, Matt Greene added an unassisted goal. Goaltender and MVP Jonathan Quick stopped all but that one shot, and the Kings are hockey's champions. They beat the Devils 6-1.
The Los Angeles Kings have been in existence for 45 years, almost all of my life. I've written before that I got to see games in the seventies, and there were some great players along the way. That was long before Wayne Gretzky arrived and gave LA some hockey notoriety. The Great One got the Kings to a Stanley Cup Final, but they didn't win it.
Not only is this the first championship in Kings' history, it's also perhaps the most remarkable playoff run in the entire history of the National Hockey League. The Kings were an eight seed in the Western Conference—the last team in. That meant they had to play the team with the best record. They took out the Vancouver Canucks in five games. The Kings then faced the team with the second-best record in the West, and swept the St. Louis Blues. The other team remaining in the West was the third-seed Phoenix Coyotes—once coached by Gretzky. The Kings dispatched them in five. Headed to the finals, the Kings were 12-2, and hadn't lost on the road.
In the finals against the Devils, the Kings won the first two games at New Jersey, then came home to take game three. They didn't get the sweep in game four, and went back to Newark where they did me a favor by losing on the road for the first time. The Kings came back home to dominate on the night they won it all.
I don't know all the nuances of hockey, but I have two people to thank for teaching me the game—my dad for taking me to games when I was a kid, and Kings broadcaster Bob Miller, whom I believe has taught everyone in Southern California. NBC broadcaster Mike Emrick was pretty eloquent too, even throwing in a hockey-related movie line here and there.
The presentation of the Stanley Cup is the best celebration in all of sports, but it's even better when it's done in front of the home crowd, and for the first time ever in a city that has been waiting a long time. I wish I could've been there, and I wish I could go to the parade, but even though I was late to the party this year, I've been a fan for life. Way to go Kings!!!
Sportsmanship?: I suppose these days it's not a big deal, but I didn't like ALL of the things that were going on at Staples Center. It's one thing that the fans had a derisive sing-songy Mar-ty cheer at Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, but the organist in the building was playng the music, egging the crowd on. Fans also changed a popular cheer from “Let's Go Kings” to “Devils Suck” on more than one occasion. By today's standards, fairly tame, but c'mon.
Super Sports Saturday: I didn't see any of it because I was broadcasting an 11-9 Gold Sox win over the San Francisco Seagulls, but Saturday could have been the biggest sports day in a very long time. Early, you had the women's final of the French Open, then later on game five of the Stanley Cup Final, game seven in the NBA between Miami and Boston, the Belmont Stakes (although I'll Have Another was scratched), interleague baseball on Fox (we got Mets-Yankees even though Dodgers-Mariners was the only game featuring two western teams), and the Pacquiao-Bradley fight. That's a pretty good day.
Gold Sox keep winning: At the quarter pole, the Marysville Gold Sox still haven't lost a game, improving to 12-0 on the season, and now have won 32 in a row dating back to July of last year. This weekend, the Sox did have to bat in the ninth inning for the first time during the streak, but got a leadoff double, immediately followed by a game-winning single. The opponents have put more hits on the board than in the first two weekends, but Sunday night, the Gold Sox hammered out 22 hits in a 16-6 rout. The toughest stretch begins on Thursday when the Gold Sox play ten games in eleven nights, including their only road trip of the year next Tuesday and Wednesday, and with all ten games being against the toughest teams on their schedule.