At the end of the 2011-12 season, the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils were not the top picks to go to the Stanley Cup Final. The Devils finished with the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 48-28-6, totaling 102 points. The Kings finished with the last seed in the Western Conference with a record of 40-27-15, totaling 95 points. The Kings were just five points ahead of the Calgary Flames for the last playoff spot.
Throughout the regular season and the playoffs, both teams had outstanding goaltending. In the regular season, Jonathan Quick posted a great .929 save percentage (SV%), and an even more impressive .946 SV% in the playoffs. Legend Martin Brodeur put up a .908 SV% in the regular season, but turned things up in the playoffs, posting a .917 SV%. Anze Kopitar was the Kings’ leading scorer that season, putting up 76 points in 82 games. Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils to the playoffs with 83 points in 77 games. Both of these players also led their respective teams in the playoffs, with Kopitar leading his team all the way to the Stanley Cup.
Devils Almost Found Themselves Out in Round One
In round one of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Devils were matched up with the number three seed, Florida Panthers. By Game 6 of this series, the Devils found themselves on the brink of elimination, down 3-2 in the series. Game 6 was held in New Jersey, and it was certainly an intense one. The game was tied 2-2 after two periods, with no scoring for the rest of regulation time. Luckily for the Devils, Travis Zajac scored the game-winning goal just over five minutes into overtime, forcing a Game 7.
Game 7 would be held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. New Jersey played a solid first two periods, finding themselves up two goals going into the final 20 minutes. The Panthers found a way to tie the game with Marcel Goc scoring the tying goal with 3:30 to go in the game. A scoreless first overtime period went into an intense second overtime period. Adam Henrique scored 3:47 into the second overtime, winning the game for the Devils and completing the series comeback.
The Devils had a relatively easy time getting through the rest of the Eastern Conference. They bulldozed the Flyers after losing Game 1 in overtime, winning the next four. In the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers, the series was made a best-of-three, after splitting the first four games. The Devils punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final in Game 6 with a 3-2 overtime win, another Adam Henrique overtime goal.
Kings Only Lost 2 Games Getting to Stanley Cup Final
The Kings matched up against the number one team in the league for the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy with a record of 51-22-9, totaling 111 points. As the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference, L.A. was certainly not the favorite. Despite this, the Kings got off to a great start, winning each of the first three games against the Canucks. Vancouver lived to fight another day, winning Game 4 of the series. The Kings were able to take Game 5 in Vancouver with a 2-1 overtime win. Jarret Stoll scored within five minutes of overtime, sending them to the second round of the playoffs.
The Kings didn’t slow down after the first round, sweeping the number three team in the league, the St. Louis Blues. The Kings finished off the Western Conference against the first-place team in the Pacific Division, the Phoenix Coyotes.
Los Angeles won the first three games, extending their playoff winning streak to eight games. The Coyotes were able to extend their playoff run with a Game 4 win, but the Kings took Game 5 in overtime with a goal by Dustin Penner.
Kings Proved to be the Favorite Going Into the Final
Going into the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, the Kings were the favorite simply based on the run they had so far. As the final seed in the Western Conference, the Kings impressed, winning 12 out of 14 games in the first three rounds, and 15 of 17 after the first three games of their series against the Devils. Throughout the regular season and the playoffs, the Devils didn’t have a clear identity in the type of game they played. In both goals for and against, they were above average, but not spectacular.
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On the other hand, the Kings played a clearly defensive game. Throughout the regular season, Los Angeles had the second-worst goals for, scoring just 194 all season, but they only let up 179 goals, second-best. They also had the fourth-best penalty kill at 87.0 percent. This trend continued in the playoffs with the best goals against per game (1.50). They also tied the St. Louis Blues for the best playoff penalty kill at 92.1 percent.
Kings Won the First 3 Games Against the Devils
The Kings continued their outstanding playoff run, winning the first three games of their series versus the Devils. Two of these games went to overtime, proving to be a close series despite the lopsided lead. In Game 1, team-leading scorer Anze Kopitar scored the overtime winner to kick off the Final. Game 2 saw the same fate for the Devils, a 2-1 overtime loss. This time around, Jeff Carter scored the overtime winner, sending the series to Los Angeles.
Game 3 saw a slow start with both teams playing a tight game. The Devils especially had to play a cautious style, as they would eventually find themselves in a 3-0 hole later in the night. The Kings put up two goals in both the second and third periods to take Game 3.
Devils Pushed Back Hard to Keep Their Season Alive
When the Stanley Cup looked to be in the hands of the Kings, the Devils made sure to show that they weren’t ready to throw away their season. The Devils won Games 4 and 5 of the Final, forcing a Game 6. In Game 4, there was no scoring throughout the first two periods, but three Devils scored within eight minutes to take control. Kovalchuck would add a goal for the Devils, but it wouldn’t be enough. Back in New Jersey, the Devils got up 2-1 after the second period, finishing the game that way.
Kings Capped Off an Incredible Season and Clinched the Stanley Cup With a Massive Game 6 Win
In Game 6, the Kings came out strong, knowing that if they let another game slip away, they could become the victims of a historic comeback. Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, and Trevor Lewis each recorded a goal in the first period, within just about four minutes. Each team put up a goal in the second period, including Carter’s second of the game. The third period saw an empty-net goal from Trevor Lewis with just under four minutes to go. Fifteen seconds later, Matt Greene capped off the onslaught with another goal for a 6-1 win.
That season kicked off the four years in which the Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks would alternate championships, each winning two Stanley Cups. Since 2014, the Kings have slowly been declining, reaching the peak of their rebuild in the last two seasons, finishing in 30th and 29th place. The Kings have a ton of exciting prospects coming up to the team, slowly becoming the next group to hopefully bring a Stanley Cup to Los Angeles.
Zackary Weiner is a high school student from New York City who covers the Los Angeles Kings here at The Hockey Writers. He is a lifelong hockey fan and player, and his previous experience includes writing articles about the NHL for various online publications. His articles cover a wide variety of topics that concern the Kings and he takes into account a range of viewpoints, making his articles a perfect read for anyone who wants to stay up to date on the team. Zackary is more than happy to get into a conversation with fellow Kings fans, so feel free to leave a comment below any of his articles like this one to let him know your opinion and what you want to see next. You can also listen to him talk about the team on Fantasy Hockey Life, The Hockey Writers Live, and Blackhawks Banter.