Twelve months ago, the Kings blew lead after lead and gift wrapped a first round series to the San Jose Sharks. This week, in the season’s final two games, the Kings repeated their past failures, blowing two two-goal leads and gifting wrapping the Pacific Division to the Sharks, even though the Phoenix Coyotes took enough offense to snatch the crown themselves.
With two games remaining, the Kings controlled their destiny. All they had to do was sweep a two game series with San Jose, or get some help in the form of a Phoenix loss or two, and they’d win their first division title since 1991. But they just couldn’t do it, as the Kings have shown time and time again. Jonathan Quick couldn’t make the saves when he needed to, and the Kings, who were so great for so long at holding leads after two periods, lost three games in the last four after leading the game with 20 minutes to play.
Saturday night, the Kings led 2-0 after two, before Dan Boyle got the Sharks on the board early in the third. The goal, coupled with the Sharks’ pulling of Antti Neimi, gave San Jose an enormous amount of momentum to play with, as they tied the game later on in the third and won it in overtime.
If you’re a Kings fan, you can’t help but feel deflated and disappointed that they didn’t lock up the division. Plus, the Kings fell into their toughest first round draw possible, in the Vancouver Canucks. The Kings would have matched up very well with the St. Louis Blues, had they defeated the Sharks, but the Canucks will give LA a handful. The Kings and Canucks split their four games this season, with the Kings winning a dominiating performance on New Year’s Eve, after getting shredded back in November, both at home. At Rogers Arena, the Kings held their own, winning in a shootout in February, and losing 1-0 just a couple weeks back.
Looking ahead, you have to feel like it’s the Canucks in six or seven games, unless Jonathan Quick can put it together in the playoffs and play like the goalie he’s been all season long. If that happens, the Kings can not only win the series, but go far. Until he proves he can perform under pressure however, the Kings won’t be favored.