The Kings are facing the Vancouver Canucks for the first time since they upset the number 1 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs last season. It seems like ages ago, but since that time the Kings did nothing but provide surprising answers to their critics’ questions, while the Canucks have been buried under a pile of questions. At the bottom of that pile is Roberto Luongo who, despite being under contract through the end of the century (or maybe just through the end of 2022), is not the number 1 goaltender in Vancouver.
The windows for teams trying to make a run at a Cup is very small. The same goes for the Lombardi, Larry O’Brien, and World Series trophies. The San Diego Chargers had those talented teams with LT, continued by Phillip Rivers, but they petered out the last 2 years. The Eagles had a decade of success with McNabb and Andy Reid, but never won the whole thing. The Cleveland Indians of the ’90s and now the Texas Rangers have not won the World Series despite a run of outrageous success. And Karl Malone, John Stockton, the Utah Jazz, and Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns have not won an NBA Championship.
Only the fewest number of franchises have the longevity to continually vie for championships because they somehow re-stock their talent. The Detroit Red Wings, the St. Louis Cardinals, the New England Patriots defy reason on the short list of teams who re-stock and reload one way or another.
The Canucks are at the top of the list of successful NHL chances who have had their chances, but are still knocking outside the door–for the moment. The Sharks, Flyers, and Capitals’ current rosters’ regular season and post season success still results in no Cup, and lots of question marks despite their talented, expensive rosters. That door finally opening is difficult, and the opportunity to keep knocking is limited at that.
The Canucks have been at the top of the Western Conference for the past 4 years. They even went to the Cup Final in 2011 before losing to the Boston Bruins in the 7th game–at home. But the Kings snuck into the playoffs last year, and almost before the Kings realized they were any good and before the Canucks realized they were in trouble to reach consecutive Cup finals, the Kings were up 3 games to none on the Cup favorites. The Kings steamrolled their own way to the Cup in historic fashion.
The Canucks window for a Cup may be closing. As reported here first, it is hard to win it all. So the Canucks will want to come out and prove something to the team that ruined their season, and every other team in the league’s season at that.
The Kings are currently missing both Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell from their consistent Top 6 defensemen from last season’s Cup run. Greene is on IR, and Mitchell is skating, and cloese to returning. How Davis Drewiske and rookie Jake Muzzin continue to fare will spell the Kings early season success. Matching up against the offensive instincts of the Sedin twins if they find themselves matched up against them at all will be an entirely new challenge though. Both Dustin Penner and Simon Gagne have been healthy scratches during the most recent road trip.
The Kings have the Cup, and will work tonight at 7:30 at STAPLES Center and all season to prove it was not a fluke.
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