Thursday, May 17, 2012
Back in 1984, a movie that is now considered a staple in 1980's culture 'The Karate Kid' was released. The basic plot was about a kid named Daniel LaRusso, who he and his Mom moved from New Jersey to California as they had to start a new life. LaRusso was kicked around by bullies in the beginning and it was feared for him he would never adjust to his new West Coast home.
John Kreese, the leader of the Cobra Kai, was very clear on what he wanted his men to show against the likes of Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi. And he made his point using two simple words.
These simple words can be used to focus the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Kings on their current task at hand, who have taken the NHL by storm since April as they travel back to the Staples Center in Los Angeles up 2-0 on the suddendly reeling Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Finals.
The strange part about the Kings is this: Is coming home to Southern California the BEST thing? After all, Los Angeles is an astounding 7-0 on the road in the 2012 NHL Playoffs. Los Angeles is getting it done in a number of ways. Shorthanded goals (5 so far). Timely goals. Stellar goaltending, and responsible defensive play. Goaltender Johnathan Quick's numbers speak for themselves (10-1 1.45GAA .951 SV%), numbers that resemble playing goalie on NHL '12 on the X-Box or PS3 in rookie mode.
In addition, the Kings are getting great play from their money players, most notably from the captain Dustin Brown (7 goals, 7 assist +11, and a physical presence), who is looking like one of the Conn Smythe front runner as of this moment. Heck, even a guy NAMED King (Dwight King) has 4 goals in the playoffs, including two goals in Game 1 in this series against the Coyotes.
Can the Kings be stopped? Absolutely. Some thought the long 7 day layoff after quickly dispatching the St. Louis Blues in 4 games might be an issue. But the Kings played even better in Games 1 of the Western Conference Finals series opener in Glendale AZ, outshooting the Yotes 48-27 (and keep in mind Phoenix blocked 26 shots!). If it was not for the sometimes stellar play of Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, the Game 1 score could have resembled 7-2 Kings instead of 3-2.
Many NHL teams over the years have made big runs as a lower seed, as the 1991 Minnesota North Stars, 1996 Florida Panthers, 1999 Buffalo Sabres and the 2006 Edmonton Oilers immediately come to mind. But consider this: Los Angeles does not fit the mold of a typical 8th seed by any stretch of the imagination. With three more points, the Kings would have been the 3rd seed instead of Phoenix: Would a lot of the doubters say a word about the Kings run then?
Hard to tell.
The names on the roster don't fit the typical 'cinderella' story either: Doughtry. Kopitar. Richards. Carter. Brown. Quick. Talent wise, they are and have been as good as anyone this year.
One thing is certain: A lot can change in the playoffs, faster then you can ever imagine. Ask Nashville and Philadelphia fans, two teams that I yours truly picked to go to the Finals. and were both blazing hot going into the 2nd round, are feeling now. They were out of this dance in a flash.
For Los Angeles, look to the Cobra Kai and show 'No Mercy' and ensure the ending to their story does not finish like the All Valley Tournament.