With all due respect to singer Albert Hammond it does, in fact, reign in southern California. It’s just that the word is spelled differently there. Especially now that the Kings have tossed the New York Rangers out of the playoffs to claim their second championship of this middle-aged decade.
While it’s always nicer for a team to win the NHL championship in a quick sweep, it’s far more important just to get the job done. The great consolation for the Kings with their Game 4 loss is that they’d have a chance to win Lord Stanley’s Cup in front of the home folks.
And make no mistake, these Kings fans didn’t want to see any more series-saving, goal-preventing ice shavings, nor any more cross-country treks to Manhattan. They just wanted to see a win.
And though it took extra time, a lot of extra time, a win is what they got. It came in the second overtime off the stick of newly-minted Stanley Cup hero Alec Martinez.
But let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
Justin Williams opened the scoring for the home team at 6:04 of the 1st. After nearly every other King on the ice had a chance to put the puck on Rangers’ backstop Henrik Lundqvist and failed, Williams corralled the flotsam in the slot and backhanded it by Lundqvist himself.
Gaborik’s goal set the stage for overtime, which in turn set the stage for another overtime.
And any period of overtime in games where Cups can be won is where legends are made for all time. Tonight, and for all time, that Kings legend would be Martinez; who became the first player to score a Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal on home ice since Bob Nystrom did it for the New York Islanders in 1980.
Though already past midnight here on the East Coast, it was still Friday the 13th when the Kings’ number 13, Kyle Clifford, entered the offensive zone with the puck.
He quickly flung the puck to his right, where teammate Tyler Toffoli accepted the pass and fired a wrister netward. Lundqvist stopped Toffoli, but he couldn’t stop Martinez; and could only watch helplessly as the L.A. defenseman put the biscuit in the basket.
And by the time that disc hit the twine Martinez was forever etched in history, while the Rangers simply were history.
When the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs began, it’s rather unlikely that many, if any, pundits had the Los Angeles Kings penned in somewhere as their favorites to take home professional sports’ most coveted trophy. But make no mistake, these Kings earned everything they got.
They went the full seven games in all three of their series before the Stanley Cup Finals, including a remarkable 0-3 comeback in the opening round against the San Jose Sharks. They got into the Finals by defeating the reigning Cup champion and their reigning nemesis, the Chicago Blackhawks.
They received great team play and showed an innate ability to come from behind when the situation called for it.
The Kings have always been a neutral team to me, an east coast hockey fan, as far as a rooting interest is concerned. (Though their old purple and gold uniforms were always among my favorites) But this writer, a Connecticut native, is happy to see another Connecticut native, Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick, earn his second ring.
It would be hard for any general hockey fan to not respect and appreciate what this team has been able to accomplish.
And so now, after a decades-long Championship famine, the Los Angeles Kings are doing their best to make up lost time to their fans with a pair of Cups in a pair of years. And good for them.
Once again, these Monarchs rule over the National Hockey League.