Throughout the 45 year history of the Los Angeles Kings, there has not been a lot to cheer for. Despite possessing some of the greatest talent in hockey history, the franchise has yet to hold the ultimate trophy, the Stanley Cup.
This year, the Los Angeles Kings will attempt to do what Kings’ legends Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Dave Taylor, Rogie Vachon and Marcel Dionne failed to do before them: win a title.
After entering the playoffs as the Western Conference’s eighth seed, the Kings did the improbable, knocking out the one-seeded Vancouver Canucks, two-seeded St. Louis Blues and three-seeded Phoenix Coyotes.
Now, the Kings find themselves in an unlikely and unfamiliar position. For the first time in 19 years, the Kings are only four wins away from a championship.
Standing in the way of the Kings are the New Jersey Devils, who reached the finals out of the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. They also underwent an unlikely run, defeating the Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers en route to their fifth Stanley Cup Finals appearance. They have won three Stanley Cups in their history, the last coming in 2003.
Perhaps the biggest storyline of this matchup is Devils’ forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who picked the Devils over the Kings two summers ago as a free agent.
Kovalchuk, who leads all skaters with 18 playoff points, was one of the most sought after free agents in NHL history, eventually picking the Devils’ offer of more money over the Kings’ offer of less money and potential to win.
At the time, it seemed like a total loss for Kings’ general manager Dean Lombardi, but it seems that everything’s worked out for the best for both teams.
The series will also feature two of the league’s greatest goaltenders, Martin Brodeur, a 40-year-old future Hall of Famer, and Jonathan Quick, a 26-year-old who might find his name in that conversation years from now.
Brodeur, who is 12-5-0 with a 2.04 GAA and .923 save percentage, and Quick, who is 12-2-0 with a 1.54 GAA and .946 save percentage, have both been lights out during their team’s respective playoff runs.
Another storyline will be the return of Peter Harrold and Alexei Ponikarovsky, who played a combined six seasons in Los Angeles. While there were no hard feelings with their departures, both players would likely love a shot at defeating their former team.
The game will begin at 5 p.m. PST and will be televised live nationally on NBC from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.