Kings on a record pace
IAN BUSBY, QMI AGENCY
|Willie Mitchell, Anze Kopitar and goaltender Jonathan Quick, of the Los Angeles Kings, celebrate the Kings' 4-3 overtime victory against the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 5 of the Western Conference final. (GETTY)
This playoff season could set a few records for the NHL -- and not just for suspensions handed out.
And it’s taking and odd case of opposites for it to happen.
With the Los Angeles Kings breaking through the first three rounds in just 14 games, Darryl Sutter’s crew doesn’t have history on its side. The last four times a team took this easy a path, they lost the final.
The Kings will be looking to reverse a trend where Pittsburgh (2008), Anaheim (2003), Detroit (1995) and Chicago (1992) got through and were defeated. Since the NHL went to a best-of-seven opening round, only the Edmonton Oilers (1987 and 1988) won the Cup after breezing through three rounds in 14 games.
The 1987 Oilers only needed 18 games to capture the Cup, the fewest in this era of the playoff format, so the Kings have a chance at equaling that mark.
The Kings already have eight road victories, so they can break the record of 10 held by New Jersey (1995 and 2000) and the 2004 Calgary Flames.
On the other side, the New York Rangers are on an historic run too.
If the Rangers make the final by winning in seven games, they would only need the final to go five games for them to tie the record for most games in one playoff year. They would also be the first team to win three Game 7s to get there.
Both the 2004 Calgary Flames and 1987 Philadelphia Flyers had 26 games during their runs — neither team won the Cup coincidentally.
The Rangers could also be in line to tie the record for most playoff losses (11) in one season with those Flyers and Flames, although New York could win the Cup instead.
Drop of the puck
If the NHL wanted to ding the Phoenix Coyotes hard for their complaints about the officiating after a Game 5 loss, they would forget about $2,500 fines for players, the maximum under the CBA. They would instead fine the team a huge sum, which of course would just be taking money from one pocket to the other for the league-owned team. The real harsh part would be when they reach into that pocket and there is nothing there … CBC found a Kelly Hrudey No. 32 jersey behind the Los Angeles Kings bench and showed it to start the broadcast Wednesday night. The person looked a lot like the former Kings goalie back in his playing days. Of course, the person wearing it was a woman. No guy could get away with that mullet and bandana look these days … Who says the CBC doesn’t do good satire anymore? Although this isn’t exactly Wayne and Shuster, the announcement Wednesday of a partnership with While The Men Watch — two housewives commenting on the Stanley Cup final — can’t be taken seriously. Two women opined on the coach’s clothes and a player’s hair is basically the same thing as the Saturday Night Live skit Bronx Beat with Betty and Jodi. The main difference is Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler are in on the joke.
Off the glass
The Devils have done a great job shutting down Marian Gaborik in this series, but the Rangers' forward was having bad luck, too. In the first period, a golden opportunity landed on Gaborik’s stick, and his swipe at it sent it just inches over the net. His luck changed when a third-period shot went off Martin Brodeur for a goal ... The end-of-period buzzer at Madison Square Garden reminds me of being back in the old Vanscoy Arena (aka the Shiverdome) in rural Saskatchewan. At this time of year, that natural ice surface is now just a chewed up pile of dirt. The summer fair isn’t for another two months … So Alexander Radulov was named the KHL’s most valuable player on Wednesday for the third straight season. Sounds like a reason to celebrate! See you at 4 a.m. … Tom Renney emerged for a final news conference after getting turfed by the Oilers last week, and judging by the growth on his face he was camping in the deep dark woods for a while.
Makes you go hmmm …
The last time a team knocked off the No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds to reach the final was was the Calgary Flames under Darryl Sutter 2004. The opposing coach? John Tortorella of the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was a seven-game epic series but also some of the worst playoff hockey in recent memory. Can’t wait to see if there is a repeat next Wednesday … The first statement out of Don Cherry’s mouth during Coach’s Corner was ‘I don’t like to say I told you so.’ Funny, we’re starting to hate that too … If you said, “Gionta scores for Devils? Isn’t he with the Canadiens now?” You weren’t the only one. This viewer was momentarily confused. That was Stephen Gionta (now with more career playoff games than regular season ones at 17-13) not older brother Brian putting New Jersey out front.
On Twitter @SUNIanBusby