Its official now, the Los Angeles Kings have knocked off the top three seeds in their conference to grant them a birth in the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings have steam rolled through the Vancouver Canucks (number one seed) in five games, the St. Louis Blues (number two seed) in four games and the Phoenix Coyotes (number three seed) in five games. This gives them a stellar record of 12 wins to 2 losses thus far through the first three rounds.
The Kings looked unbeatable through the first two rounds and the first three games of the Coyotes series. However the Coyotes exposed their weaknesses in game four and came away with a victory and glimmer of hope in the series. Head Coach Darryl Sutter did a great job between game four and five getting his Kings refocused and playing to their strengths and what has got them to this point.
Interestingly enough, the last team to knock off the number one, two and three seeds in the Western Conference on route to the Stanley Cup Final was the Darryl Sutter coached Calgary Flames of 2003-04. That year the Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks (number three seed) in seven games, the Detroit Red Wings (number one seed) in six games and the San Jose Sharks (number two seed) in six games. Although they eventually lost in the Stanley Cup Final after seven hard fought games to Brad Richards and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
While the Calgary Flames of the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs had three long series that totaled 20 games playing a hard working, tight checking style the Kings have only played 14 games thus far. They should also gave a few days off between the Conference Final and Cup Final to recover as the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers series is currently tied at two games apiece with game five being played Wednesday May 23 and a potential deciding game six happening Friday May 25.
The Stanley Cup Final is scheduled to begin Wednesday May 30, so the Kings are guaranteed and entire week of rest and recovery as well as preparation for the Cup Final. While the winner of the Devils-Rangers series should be battered and bruised from a rough series. The latest that series can go is Sunday May 27, when game seven is scheduled at Madison Square Garden in New York.
You have to believe that the Kings have their fingers crossed hoping for that series to go seven grueling games. If the Devils win they have already played 17 games up to game five of the Eastern Conference Final, while the Rangers have played 19 games. Either way you slice it the Kings should be the fresher team and the longer the Cup Final goes the more in favor of them the outcome will be.