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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Can Anyone Stop The Los Angeles Kings?

Illustration for article titled Can Anyone Stop The Los Angeles Kings?

The NHL playoffs have been their usual chaotic selves so far, with dashes of weird discipline and whatever the hell the Penguins-Flyers series is thrown in for good measure. There are just two impending sweeps: Penguins-Flyers, and Kings-Canucks. We can understand why the Flyers have spanked the Pens—Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed 17 goals on 84 shots. But how is it that the eighth-seeded Kings are on the brink of sweeping the Presidents'-Trophy-winning Canucks?


Perhaps this is too simple a conclusion, but it seems that everything is going right for the Kings. Dustin Brown has pushed everyone around the ice, and leads the playoffs in goals scored. Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams are playmaking the hell out of things. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are skating around, as they do, and attacking credibly. Even noted pancake lover Dustin Penner has two points. On defense, for some reason, Willie Mitchell has decided to start playing like Chris Pronger. He's shut everyone down. And he plays alongside Drew Doughty, who's been steady and aggressive and characteristically swell at moving the puck. (Young Slava Voynov might be even better.)


Everyone on the Kings hits and pressures, and Vancouver hasn't had an answer. And all of that is to say nothing of goalie Jonathan Quick, who has remained the best thing about the Kings, their core. Quick was cartoonishly good this season. Among full-time starters (which is to say not Brian Elliott, Jaroslav Halak, or Cory Schneider), Quick had the best goals-against average, fell just short of the best save percentage, and led the league in shutouts. In the playoffs, he's been similarly sharp, allowing only four goals over three games, despite facing a ton of shots. He's prowling, spry, and always low to the ground, reminiscent of Miikka Kiprusoff, another Darryl-Sutter-coached goalie who dominated the playoffs eight years ago.

Which leads us to wonder: can anyone stop the Kings? It's not as though their to-date success is a fluke—they have a very good roster and a very good coach. Why shouldn't everything go right?

They should outscore the Blues, their likely next-round opponent. They have the firepower to match Chicago but much better goaltending, and they best Phoenix in every department. Nashville? Detroit? Please. If the Kings continue playing this way, they're headed to the final, just like Sutter's Cinderella Flames of 2004. Or, you know, they'll lose in the next round. It's hockey.

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