In 1993 the NHL was a very different place. For starters, consider that the last time the Los Angeles Kings advanced to the third round of the playoffs, they were playing the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Campbell Conference Finals. They were lead by Head Coach Barry Melrose, who a year earlier had piloted the AHL Adirondack Red Wings to a Calder Cup Championship. That year also sticks out to me with one of my very first hockey memories. I was nine years old and visiting relatives in St. Thomas, Ontario for my Great Grandmother Anderson’s 90th birthday and Wayne Gretzky scored a hat-trick in Game Seven, sending the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Fast forward to 2012 and the current Kings captain Dustin Brown, has L.A. in position for more special moments this post-season. If it seems like the Kings should have a bye after what they’ve done, well who could blame them? They’ve already done the remarkable by becoming the first club in the East/West playoff format to knock off the top two seeds, as an eight seed. They will however be rewarded with a little more time off, by virtue of their 4-0 series sweep of the St. Louis Blues.
To consider how even more mind blowing this run has been, Los Angeles has toppled two clubs with a combined 100 wins and 220 points. In doing so, the Kings went 8-1 in the process.
Much of the post-season, L.A. has controlled the first period. In Game Four against the Blues, the results were no different.
Early in that first, St. Louis got a bit sloppy in trying to clear the puck out front and the Kings jumped all over it. Dustin Penner made a nice crossing drop pass and Jordan Nolan (son of Ted and brother of Brandon) swooped in to bury the biscuit by Brian Elliott. Nolan, who later fought with Chris Stewart, nearly had himself a Gordie Howe hat-trick, much like teammate Mike Richards.
St. Louis would counter on a Kevin Shattenkirk slapper from the circle. It was a beauty and worthy of a Boston University chant that I can’t repeat in this space.
Yet from there Jonathan Quick and his 23 saves were airtight. Even with the Blues out-shooting the Kings 20-9 in the final two frames, Quick and the L.A. defence were able to keep St. Louis off the scoreboard on the power-play at 0-for-3.
Also putting L.A. up for good, a timely marker off the stick of captain Brown. Brown was able to best Elliott, with a snap shot between the legs of defenceman Alex Pietrangelo and over the shoulder of the Blues netminder for a 2-1 advantage.
As mentioned, the Kings would put it away from there. With under a minute to go, Brown netted his sixth goal of the playoffs, into an empty cage and the Kings had themselves a 3-1 victory and a 4-0 series sweep.
So the incredible run for the Kings’ continues. L.A. will await the winner of the Phoenix Coyotes/Nashville Predators series and look to resume their reign as playoff road warriors.
If all of this still seems crazy to you, taking another look back to the ’93 campaign, your “Frozen Four” so to speak were, the Kings, Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens. That of course being the last year a Canadian club won the Stanley Cup.