May 28, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalieJonathan Quick
(32) makes a save off San Jose Sharks centerJoe Pavelski
(8) in the third period of game seven of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Staples Center. Kings won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Astoria, NY – With one Western Conference Semifinal Game 7 in the books and another scheduled for tonight, NHL junkies are certainly getting their postseason hockey fix after suffering through an early season lockout that lost each team 34 games of the 2012-13 season.
But that’s all in the past. (Believe me, I thought I could stay mad at the NHL forever after the collective bargaining negotiations debacle. Who was I kidding though?) Once again, professional hockey’s postseason is proving to viewers why the NHL playoffs are the best in all of sport.
The Los Angeles Kings defeated the San Jose Sharks at home last night, setting the stage for the NHL’s second Game 7 in as many nights, as the Detroit Red Wings take on the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center at 8:00 p.m.
The Kings – by now, all too familiar with deep playoff runs – will await the winner of tonight’s do-or-die matchup. As far as watching the games goes, I’ve been glued to my TV, as I’m sure many of you have over the course of the past few weeks.
I’m always aware of how the intensity and quality of play will improve once the postseason starts, but I’m never fully prepared for the full extent of the excellence NHL fans are treated to during the playoffs.
Although by now, I shouldn’t expect anything less.
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For those keeping score at home, the Detroit Red Wings (2008), Pittsburgh Penguins (2009), Chicago Blackhawks (2010), Boston Bruins (2011) and Kings (2012) have all won the Stanley Cup in recent years. I’m not sure if that’s a case against parity around the NHL – after all, the Bruins and Kings faced Game 7 scenarios and the Blackhawks and Wings play a Game 7 tonight – but it certainly makes for powerful branding if you’re associated with any of the aforementioned teams. It seems that championship experience is an important factor this late in the postseason.
With the Sharks’ season coming to an end last night, another fan base had the opportunity to thank their team for a solid run this season. As New York Islanders fans, the EYES staff can appreciate the feeling; saluting the team after a hard-fought season is bittersweet. There’s always next year, though.
Kings fans are used to hearing lines like this by now, especially during the postseason. Jonathan Quick’s stellar play in net last night was the determining factor in Los Angeles’s Game 7 victory last night; his stop on Pavelski was further proof that he can up his level of play seemingly at will. Maybe Quick’s main reason for wearing a mask is so he can commit robbery on a regular basis without being recognized…
Short answer: yes. It doesn’t hurt to have the postseason’s hottest goalie or a veteran scorer who knows how to put the puck in the net, especially in a Game 7. Watch out, other NHL teams: the Kings are starting to bring back memories of 2012.
Last Night In The NHL
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings (LA 4-3)
Los Angeles defeated San Jose 2-1 in Game 7 of their series last night, riding the hot hand of Justin Williams into the Western Conference Finals, where they’ll find themselves matched up with either the Detroit Red Wings or the Chicago Blackhawks.
Williams scored both Kings goals, one on a scrum that saw Sharks goalie Antti Niemi fail to cover the puck or seal the far post; the second – the eventual game-winner – was the product of some smooth passing by teammates Slava Voynov and Anze Kopitar.
Dan Boyle did his best to build on the efforts of Niemi in net, as he scored the lone Sharks goal at 5:26 of the third period to pull his team within one goal of the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Unfortunately for San Jose and their fans, the Kings proved to be too tough in the end.
Quick stopped 25-of-26 shots on the night, including several highlight-reel-worthy saves to keep his team ahead. As it turned out, he would only need two goals from his offense to seal the win.
Slava Voynov continued his strong postseason, recording an assist on each of Williams’s goals.
Los Angeles will play Saturday, June 1 at Chicago if the Blackhawks advance, or Friday May 31 at home against Detroit if the Red Wings reach the Conference Finals.
Williams nets his second goal of the night…
Boyle pulls the Sharks to within one…
That “Niemi” guy isn’t so bad himself…
As always, thanks for reading us at EyesOnIsles. Keep it right here for all of your NHL playoff coverage and Isles offseason news. Be sure to check the menu bar at the top of the page for ways to connect with the EyesOnIsles staff, as we’re always happy to talk hockey.