NHL WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS, GAME SEVEN:
Los Angeles Kings 5, San Jose Sharks 1
I should have known better that to write these Kings off after they fell behind three games to none in this first round of this battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
I certainly hope I – and I’m sure many other fans, including Kings captain Dustin Brown‘s six-year old son – am forgiven for the lack of faith and the abandonment after L.A. made history by being the first team since the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, and the fourth NHL team ever, to win a series after a 3-0 deficit.
“It’s a result of us sticking together as a group of guys,” Brown said afterward. “When you’ve gone to the top of the mountain with the same group of guys it’s a little bit easier when you’re at the bottom to one up.”
Five different Kings scored in the win before what I’m sure was 17, 562 dejected Sharks fans at SAP Center in San Jose.
After Anze Kopitar gave the Kings the lead for good with 1:21 left in the second period, the team scored three more goals, including two empty netters, to seal the deal.
Jonathan Quick came through in goal with 39 saves in 40 shots, which was especially impressive considering that he gave up the bulk of San Jose’s goals during the first three games.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who scored the team’s first goal, summed it all up by saying, “This is something we’re all going to remember for the rest of our lives…(the Game 7 win) was an unbelievable feeling, a great effort.”
By sending the Sharks home these Kings are about to experience something else that they will remember for their whole lives as this unofficial California State Championship continues.
Actually, it will be the unofficial – as well as the ultimate – Southern California Championship at stake as the Kings’ opponent in the Western Conference Semifinals will be a team that they are very familiar with…
Not only will their matchup with the Anaheim Ducks be the first time that two local teams will face off in NHL playoff history, it will be the first time in the history of sports in Los Angeles that two teams that call America’s second largest city home will meet in the postseason.
The Dodgers and Angels have never met in the World Series.
The Lakers and Clippers have never met in the NBA playoffs.
The UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans have never met in a football bowl game or in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Not even the Rams and the Raiders have ever met in the Super Bowl when they were in L.A.
If there are any fans out there that fail to recognize the significance of this historic meeting between SoCal’s two NHL teams, then I don’t know what else to say.
Except this little appeal:
With the fan bases of these Kings and Ducks as passionate as they are, and the situation with those two teams being what it now is, combined with the close proximity of the clubs…
I have a slight concern that a Civil War of sorts may break out, that at least some fans may behave like those British soccer hooligans who go around and start trouble.
In other words, fight.
I certainly hope that that will not be the case, that even though this series will decide who runs SoCal in hockey once and for all, every fan on both sides will realize that it’s not with it to engage in drunken brawls or anything like that.
Oh by the way, forget that the Ducks have taken four out of five games with one tie against their King rivals this season; as sure as I’m writing this all of that will absolutely and positively go out the window.
To coin a time-honored cliche, much like when UCLA and USC meet in football…
You can, and need to, throw the records out in this upcoming second round.
Game One is this coming Saturday at 5:00 p.m, with Game Two on Monday, May 5th at 7:00 p.m., both games at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
Meanwhile, as a celebration of the comeback over the Sharks, here’s a clip of the Kings’ final minutes of Game Seven and the traditional post-game handshake to enjoy: