TCL Predicts The Stanley Cup Final
The 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers are the only 8th seed to ever make it to the Stanley Cup Final. They were a relative garbage team (for a team that made the finals anyway). The Los Angeles Kings are not garbage. That may sound like a silly reason to pick a team to win the Stanley Cup, but at this point, it seems like destiny. The Kings have made short work of just about every team they've faced in these playoffs, and as we know about the competitive west, they probably aren't a "true" 8th seed, only two points behind the Phoenix Coyotes they defeated to get here for the Pacific Division title at the end of the regular season. It only seems fitting that the Kings be the team that makes history at this point, and with the post-season they had, they would have earned it.
The Devils aren't a team that should be taken for granted of course, and that might seem like a funny thing to say with more than a dozen predictions unanimously rooting for the Kings right here at TCL. But they had a contentious route to the final as well, playing the underdog in three (now four) series. The Kings' trip to the final may have been unlikely, but I'm still trying to figure out how the Devils got here, with a senior citizen between the pipes, a defense corps that's either always injured or under-performing, and the quietest collection of talented forwards in the league. But that makes the Devils more dangerous, and the fact that no one's picking them to win is a nightmare for the Kings.
The Kings were built to start making serious runs starting this year; after a solid season, they've taken off in the post-season. Dispatching each series opponent early has allowed them rest at a vital time of year. The Kings have players like Jeff Carter and Colin Fraser, who played against each other in the 2010 SCF; and a bunch of young, hungry players. The Kings have depth and a style of play that reminds me of the 2010 Blackhawks. Additionally, they've great on the road, and that's especially important in the SCF - and since they're used to long travel throughout their season, one would expect the Kings to be less affected by the travel and time differences, especially when playing on the West coast.
The Kings dismantled every single opponent they faced with strong defensive play, calculated breakouts, and tremendous goaltending from Jonathan Quick. The Kings do need to fix some things if they are to win this series. Jeff Carter must play up to task and be a consistent goal scoring threat. As of right now, he has four goals, and three of them came in one game. Secondly, Quick needs to regain a little traction. He didn't seem as confident in the last few games of the conference finals. LA possesses 4 deadly forward lines and 3 deadly defensive pairs that do not stray from their identities.
Now I am not picking LA just because they have been the dominant team in the Western Conference in this year's playoffs. Actually, picking LA goes against my beliefs. There is usually an bottom seeded team that makes a run to the Cup. In recent years we can look at the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, etc. But usually those teams end up loosing the Cup because they ended up just being over-achievers that came together at the right time, allowing them to lose to the other team that had been the most consistent all year. However, the Kings are different. They are not an 8th seed that squeaked into the post-season; had they earned another two points they would have tied Phoenix for the division lead. This is a team that was strong over the second half of the season and has continued that type of play into the playoffs.