You can call them the Kings

Photo Credit: NHL.com/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings had high hopes at the beginning of the season after management spent over $100,000 on improving the team. Unfortunately for them when the season began they were nowhere near where they were hoping to be. The Kings struggled to score goals throughout the year as they were clearly one of the worst teams in the league offensively. On the other side of the country the New Jersey Devils had little hope to start the season. Surrounded by financial issues and a lack luster 2010-11 campaign the Devils were not expected to make much of an impact. The Devils surprised many though and did it silently with a new style than they were used to under Peter DeBoer. The Devils changed their tactics around this year as they moved from being a defensive first team that relied on their goaltender to win games. Instead they became an offensive team that looked to their skill players to lead the team and if need be they could look to their goalie for help. With this new style the Devils were able to become a power in the Atlantic Division and breathe new life into the career of their star goalie Martin Brodeur. The Kings on the other hand struggled throughout the year to get anything going on offence and so they looked to make a midway through the year. The Kings hired Darryl Sutter in December surprising everyone who thought that a country boy from Canada would never fit in the big city in the USA. Instead he changed their attitude and turned the team around. With the addition of Jeff Carter at the trade deadline the Kings also began finding their scoring touch and took the pressure off of Jonathan Quick to win games from the net. As the season came to a close the Kings were on the outside looking in to the playoffs but fought hard to the last week when they finally clinched the last playoff spot in the West. The Devils had been in the mix all season and despite a late cooling off period they easily clinched a playoff spot and ended the season in 6th place. As they moved into the playoffs the Devils would first take on the surprising Florida Panthers. The Devils fought a tough battle in the first series as they got ahead early in the series and then went down 3-2. They won the last two games though and staved off elimination to move into the second round. The Kings would have a tough road as they would take on President’s Trophy winners the Vancouver Canucks in their first series. It did not seem like much of a test for the Kings though as they dispatched of the Canucks in 5 games. The second round would be another test though as the Kings would take on the #2 team the St. Louis Blues. For the Kings this was even less of a challenge as they were able to sweep the Blues in four games. The Devils would not be challenged much in their second round much either as they seemingly took on the second round favorite Philadelphia Flyers. The Devils got past them in 5 games though as they would move on the Eastern Conference Finals. The Eastern Finals would see the Devils take on their rivals the New York Rangers who had impressed many with their defensive ability. The Devils fought a tough series as they were able to get by the Rangers in 6 very taxing games. The Kings would take on the Phoenix Coyotes in their Western Finals in a matchup of two surprising teams. Again, though the Kings seemed to have no challenge with their opponent as they won their spot in the Finals after 5 games. This set up a match-up of the traditional against the non-traditional in the Stanley Cup Finals to determine who the best team is in the NHL.

The Series began with many people saying that it would be one of the most boring series in playoff history. The reason for this was that these teams do not excite people and the non-traditional nature of the Kings did not help. They failed to realize though that the Kings fans had waited years for this championship and were the talk of the town days before the series. The Devils did not have as much fanfare as they had not incited much buzz in their home state but were still looking for their fourth Stanley Cup and looking to possibly give Martin Brodeur a great swan song. The first three games were almost exactly the same as the Devils seemed to outplay the Kings but a combination of not getting the bounces and of having to beat Jonathan Quick put the games in the hands of the Kings. As the Kings went ahead 3-0 in the series they began looking to make history as the only team to match the record of the 1988 Edmonton Oilers who went 16-2 in the 1988 playoffs to earn the best record in the NHL playoffs. The Devils had different plans though as they began taking advantage of their opportunities. Game 4 was supposed to be a celebration for the Kings but the Devils spoiled it as they won the game ruining the sweep and the overall record. They moved on to Game 5 in New Jersey as the Kings looked to finally close out the series but again, behind a great performance by Brodeur, the Devils were able to end those hopes. Instead they won the game and made it a series again drawing a 3-2 series record and gaining new life in the Finals. As the series went back to Los Angeles for Game 6 the talk was of a comeback as the Devils may be able to complete one of the greatest comebacks in playoff history. Instead the Kings were able to finally close it out as they got out to an early lead thanks to a 5 minute penalty by Steve Bernier who hit Rob Scuderi from behind. With the penalty the Kings scored two goals and continued rolling. The game ended in a 6-1 win for the Kings as they made history becoming the first #8 team to win the Cup and won their first Cup in team history. The series was not boring as many might say but in fact it was very exciting with some great games and great stories. It may not be remembered as one of the best but one thing is for sure, the fans who have stuck with this team since 1967 will never forget the year they finally won the Cup.

Stanley Cup Champions
Los Angeles Kings

Photo Credit: NHL.com/Getty Images

Conn Smythe Trophy
Jonathan Quick, G

Photo Credit: NHL.com/Getty Images

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