Amazing depth has Kings on brink of first Stanley Cup
By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer
LOS ANGELES -- The only number that matters to the Los Angeles Kings is 16. They're one win away from it.
The number that has helped them get closer to win No. 16 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs than ever before is 17. That's how many Kings skaters have scored a goal in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
You want balance? There it is for you wrapped neatly on one seemingly indestructible and impossibly impressive team that can win the Stanley Cup and finish with a 16-2 postseason record with another 60 dynamite minutes Wednesday night at Staples Center in Game 4 (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"I think it's just the perfect proof of our team play and our depth," said Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi, ironically the lone regular who doesn't have a goal.
Alec Martinez beefed the Kings balanced scoring up to 17 players with his game-opening goal 5:40 into the second period of Game 3 Monday. It's all they needed before they feasted on the New Jersey Devils for a 4-0 victory in front of an electric and record-breaking crowd of 18,674 at Staples Center. Jonathan Quick made 22 saves for his third shutout of the playoffs, and the latest round of domination by these Kings.
"I think it's safe to say that 'Quicker' is 'Quicker' and he's the backbone of our team, but I think our best players have played like best players the majority of the playoffs," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "But, you're also getting goals from 17 guys total out of a 20-something roster -- when you have that type of scoring it's a scary thought for opponents."
The Canucks found that out quickly. L.A. had four goal scorers in Game 1 against Vancouver. The series was done in five games.
Three different Kings scored in Game 1 against the Blues. The series was over in four.
It was a little bit different against the Coyotes as Jeff Carter, Dwight King, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown combined for eight goals during the first two games. The series still ended in five games and the Kings had seven guys combine for 14 goals.
Now the Devils are on the verge of getting swept by the machine-like Kings, who have eight goals from six different players in the Cup Final.
"It speaks to how many guys can play the game in a lot of situations, play good minutes, heavy minutes for us," forward Jarret Stoll said.
But the Kings don't want to speak about what it all means just yet.
They know that Monday they became the first team in NHL history to go up 3-0 in all four rounds. They realize they are the first team in NHL history to win 10 straight playoff games on the road. Of course they're aware that with a win Wednesday they will match the 1988 Edmonton Oilers for the best winning percentage in playoff history since the League went to the best-of-seven format for all four rounds in 1987, going 16-2.
Hey, they might even be aware that they are one win away from becoming the first No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup.
"It's nice to think about for a split second," Dustin Penner said, "but we can't get nostalgic here."
Not even a little bit?
"Not yet," Stoll said. "The second you do you take your foot off the gas, you lose your focus and you lose your mindset. You've got to keep looking ahead and improving your game and trying to get better. Hopefully after the next game I'll answer any question any way possible, but our focus has always been so narrow and so straight forward on what we've got to do and how we've got to play, and that's all we worry about."
They firmly believe their narrow-minded focus is why they are in position for a sweep in the Stanley Cup Final. That focus, the Kings say, is why they have so many guys contributing, why they have 17 goal scorers.
"Our coaching staff has done a great job of making sure our heads are right where they need to be, our attitude is right, our mindset is right," Stoll said. "And, then we just play the game."
They credit coach Darryl Sutter for never backing down from his strive for perfection, for refusing to settle for anything less. He keeps them on their toes and focused on what they can do to help win the next shift, the next period, the next game.
They credit themselves for keeping each other honest, for never allowing the next win, always more important than the last, to feel too good.
"I think we have been really focused on what has made us successful; it's not patting each other on the back, it's pushing each other to be better," Brown said. "We all understand where we're at, the situation we're in, it's something we're comfortable with but we understand it's not going to be easy. I don't think anybody in here is satisfied with where we're at right now."
If that seems crazy, it's only because the Kings are maniacal about playing their best game. They feel they haven't done it yet, despite appearing to be about as close to perfect as a team possibly could be in Game 3.
"I think we can still clean it up," Scuderi said. "We still have adjustments to make. No one is getting giddy in here."
Even though they're smart enough to realize that the numbers don't lie. Seventeen scorers and a historic goaltending performance has them oh-so-close to equaling 16 wins and the franchise's first Cup.
One to go.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl