Two games away from capturing the Stanley Cup, their first in franchise history, the Los Angeles Kings are already on their way to making history of sorts. What history you ask? Well, their current 14-2 playoff record has set them up to be considered the best eighth-seeded team in the history of North American sport.
Yes, there may only be two leagues–the NHL and NBA that even have an eighth seed in their playoff format, but that doesn’t discount what the Kings have been able to do as the team that held the worst record of all the playoff participants in the Western Conference.
Besides the Kings, there has only been one other NHL team to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals as an eighth seed. In 2006, the Edmonton Oilers advanced all the way to the final game of the season where they were defeated in Game 7 of the Cup Finals by the Carolina Hurricanes. In the NBA, the 1999 New York Knicks made it to the NBA Finals as the eighth seed before being knocked off in five games by San Antonio.
Although that Edmonton team was able to win three games in the finals and Los Angeles has two wins at the moment, the Kings post-season dominance this year should already give them the nod as the best 8th-seeded playoff team of all-time.
In the first round they knocked off the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks in five games and followed that up with an impressive sweep of the West’s second seed St. Louis. They then took care of the Phoenix Coyotes in five to capture the Western crown.
Two more road victories over the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals has the Kings two wins away from completing an improbable playoff run that would go down as the msot astounding in NHL playoff history. The 1988 Edmonton Oilers also went 16-2 in the playoffs but with the likes of Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Coffey and Fuhr, they were the exact opposite of a team like Los Angeles that had to scratch and claw just to qualify for the playoffs.
What shouldn’t be lost however is the fact that coming into the season, the Kings were considered by many to be a Cup contending team, yet failed to come close to meeting those expectations in the regular season. In the playoffs everything has come together to the point where it has become hard to envision them losing a single game, let alone a series.
Even through two evenly matched games with New Jersey, both of which went to overtime, the Kings had the look of a team that simply were not going to lose. Goals by Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter stand to be the only things seperating the two teams right now, but with a 2-0 series lead heading home, the advantage for Los Angeles is huge and the hole for the Devils is massive.
Despite still being two wins away, their dominance in the playoffs allows me to comfortably claim them to be the best eighth-seed ever, but last time I checked there is no trophy for that. A nice title it may be, but they will not be satisfied until they are skating around with the big silver bowl.