LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 04: Jeff Carter #77 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his goal in the third period against goaltender Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils in Game Three of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Devils 4-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
So it's come to this. After rolling through the Western Conference with ease, the Kings are on the verge of making short work of the Devils as well with the chance to wrap up the series, become the first eighth seed in history to win the Stanley Cup and tie the 1988 Edmonton Oilers for the best playoff record in history since the league moved to a four-round postseason format.The puck drops at 5PM PST on NBC Sports Network.
As painful as it is to admit, if the Kings do finish this tonight they'll have earned it. It hasn't been the fastest process but former Sharks GM Dean Lombardi built this team through a seemingly endless series of shrewd moves and good bets as Ann demonstrated here. Picking up Justin Williams when his value was depressed by injury concerns; identifying incompetent GMs like Steve Tambellini and Scott Howson and fleecing them for Dustin Penner and Jeff Carter, respectively; selling high when Brayden Schenn's value inexplicably ballooned and ending up with a finished version of Schenn's likely ceiling in Mike Richards; signing Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi to fair deals on the open market; and not being tempted to to fix the Kings' goaltending woes by throwing big money at a goalie and instead opting to develop cheap netminders from within the organization.
I realize that every GM's body of work is overwhelmingly praised following his team's hoisting of the Cup but unlike, say, the 2006 Hurricanes or last year's Bruins, you can make a pretty compelling case that the Kings were the best team in the NHL this season.Certainly after hiring Darryl Sutter and undoubtedly after the addition of Jeff Carter, this was an elite club that dominated play in front of a goaltender having a terrific year.
But, if for no other reason than to delay the inevitable Hollywood parade, it sure would be nice if the Devils could go out there and beat L.A.