Feels Like It Was Just Yesterday
The following is a quick recap of the Kings playoff march to the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship. In part one of this two-part series, we take a look back at the game recaps from the first two playoff series.
“This is for you Kings’ players and Kings fans wherever you may be. All the frustration and disappointment of the past is gone. The 45-year drought is over. The Los Angeles Kings are indeed the Kings of the National Hockey League, the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions!”
-The call of Kings Hall of Fame TV broadcaster Bob Miller during the final seconds of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final
It took 45 years, 592 players and just over 3,600 games, but the Kings finally accomplished what the franchise first set out to do in the fall of 1967. On June 11, 2012, the Kings were crowned Champions of the NHL for the first time.
Not bad for a team that struggled to live up to expectations for much of the 2011-12 regular season. Not bad for a team that endured a mid-season coaching change and finished 29th out of 30 teams in goals-per-game average. Not bad for a team that needed to win nine of its last 14 games just to get into the 2012 postseason as the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
The Kings began the season with a record of 5-1-1 but soon after that the team endured a team-wide goal-scoring slump that had everyone, including President and General Manager Dean Lombardi, mystified. By mid-December Lombardi knew that a change at the top was needed to save the season. On December 12, the Kings announced that Head Coach Terry Murray had been relieved of his duties. Assistant Coach John Stevens served as Interim Head Coach for four games before Darryl Sutter officially took over as the Kings new Head Coach on December 22.
The one constant throughout the regular season was the performance of Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick, a Second Team NHL All-Star and a Finalist for the Vezina Trophy. Quick set franchise single-season records for shutouts (10), save percentage (.929) and goals-against average (1.95) in 2011-12. He also set a club record with three straight shutouts while posting a franchise record scoreless streak of 202:11 in October. Without him, the Kings season would certainly have been lost.
The Kings started to show signs of improvement under the guidance of Sutter. They became a more aggressive team and things really began to come together in February when the Kings acquired Jeff Carter at the NHL trade deadline and brought up young prospects Dwight King and Jordan Nolan from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League. Still, the Kings weren’t assured of a playoff spot until April 5, just two days before the end of the regular season.
The Kings were simply at their collective best during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs as they never faced an elimination game during their postseason run to greatness. With every game, a new hero emerged. Along the way they became the first eighth-seeded team to ever win the Stanley Cup and they also tied for the second best record in NHL playoff history, going 16-4 overall and 10-1 on the road. Outstanding goaltending from Quick, a dominant penalty kill and timely scoring were all main ingredients for the Kings, who set a new Stanley Cup playoff record with 10 straight road wins and became the first NHL team to ever go up 3-0 in all four series in one playoff year.
“The long wait is over…after 45 years the Kings can wear their crown! The Los Angeles Kings have won the Stanley Cup!”
-The call of Kings veteran radio broadcaster Nick Nickson during the final seconds of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINAL SERIES
LA vs. Vancouver – Game 1
Dustin Penner scored the winning goal with 3:14 left in the third period to help the Kings beat the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks 4-2 in the opener of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series in Vancouver on April 11. Mike Richards and Willie Mitchell added power play goals and Dustin Brown scored into an empty net. Richards finished with three points (1-2=3) in his Kings playoff debut and Jonathan Quick recorded 24 saves to preserve the victory.
LA vs. Vancouver – Game 2
Dustin Brown tied an NHL playoff record with two short-handed goals and Jonathan Quick made 46 saves as the Kings beat the Canucks 4-2 in Vancouver on April 13. Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis added third period goals for the Kings, who killed off all five Vancouver power plays they faced in the game. Quick was at his best in the third period, collecting 22 of his 46 saves with the game in the balance to give the Kings a 2-0 series lead.
LA vs. Vancouver – Game 3
Jonathan Quick made 41 saves and Dustin Brown scored on a long rebound with 13:30 to play in the third period as the eighth-seeded Kings posted a 1-0 victory over Vancouver at STAPLES Center on April 15. Brown sparked the Kings with a crushing second period hit on Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin, and his fourth goal of the series put the Kings one win away from their first playoff series victory in over a decade. Quick finished off his second career playoff shutout with 16 saves in the third period.
LA vs. Vancouver – Game 4
Cory Schneider made 43 saves in his first career playoff victory, Daniel Sedin sparked Vancouver's power play in his return from injury, and the top-seeded Canucks avoided a first-round sweep by the Kings with a 3-1 victory at STAPLES Center on April 18. Anze Kopitar scored a first period goal, and Jonathan Quick stopped 27 shots for the Kings, who were trying to close out their first playoff series victory since 2001.
LA vs. Vancouver – Game 5
Jarret Stoll beat Cory Schneider at 4:27 of overtime to give the Kings a 2-1 victory over Vancouver, knocking out the top-seeded Canucks in five games in their Western Conference first-round series in Vancouver on April 22. Stoll scored from the left wing after a turnover at the Vancouver blue line. He skated in on a 2-on-1, but took the shot himself, picking the top-left corner above Schneider's blocker. Brad Richardson tied the game with a third period goal for the Kings and Jonathan Quick made 26 saves.
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL SERIES
LA vs. St. Louis – Game 1
Matt Greene scored his first career playoff goal short-handed late in the second period and rookie Slava Voynov also picked up his first goal of the playoffs as the Kings beat the St. Louis Blues 3-1 in the opener of a Western Conference Semifinal series in St. Louis on April 28. Jonathan Quick, who shut out the Blues twice in the regular season, made 28 saves to improve his record to 5-1 in the postseason. Dustin Penner also added an empty net goal for the Kings who improved to 4-0 on the road during the 2012 postseason.
LA vs. St. Louis – Game 2
Anze Kopitar scored twice in a four-goal first period as the Kings embarrassed the Blues from the opening faceoff in a 5-2 win at St. Louis on April 30. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter had a goal apiece and Dustin Brown and Dustin Penner each had a pair of assists in the opening period for the Kings, who improved to 5-0 on the road during the 2012 postseason. Jonathan Quick turned aside 27 shots to help the Kings take control of the series and Justin Williams added a second period goal.
LA vs. St. Louis – Game 3
Drew Doughty had a goal and two assists and Jonathan Quick made 18 saves for the Kings in a 4-2 victory over St. Louis at STAPLES Center on May 3. Justin Williams, Dwight King and Mike Richards also scored for the Kings who opened a 3-0 series lead over the Blues with their seventh victory in eight playoff games. Richards also fought in the game and later chipped in with an assist to record a Gordie Howe hat trick, and Anze Kopitar finished with two assists in the game.
LA vs. St. Louis – Game 4
Dustin Brown scored two goals, Jonathan Quick made 23 saves, and the Kings swept the Blues out of the postseason with a 3-1 victory at STAPLES Center on May 6. With the win, the Kings advanced to the Western Conference Final series for just the second time in club history. Jordan Nolan also scored an early goal for the Kings, the first No. 8 seed in NHL history to eliminate their conference's top two seeds in the same postseason. The Kings held the Blues to just six total goals in the series while killing off all 17 Blues power play opportunities.