Yesterday I met up with my cousins for a night out on the town and my cousin’s boyfriend said to me, “Hey, have you watched any hockey lately…Oh wait, you haven’t!” Me being an avid Flyers fan (and he rooting for the Devils), he assumed my time in front of the boob tube had ended. I said with a slightly turned up nose, “Nope! I haven’t missed a game! I’ve watched ’em all.”
Now I know some of you fall into his mindset. My team is out so what’s the point? Though it is true that the final goal horn of the year has rung in 28 arenas, there are still some quality players to see and backstories to read in what proves to be one of the oddest (rankings-wise) cup chases to date.
Reasons to watch the LA Kings:
Besides the fact they narrowly made the playoffs this season and that they haven’t reached the Finals since the Great One laced up his skates, you have to consider:
- P-P-P-Penner and the Cakes– I pray you read that to the tune of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets.” If not, go back and do that now. No other story coming into the SCF may be more hilarious or quirky than that of 6’4″ left winger Dustin Penner and how his love of breakfast food took him out of a game. The story goes that Penner sat down to breakfast before practice one morning, went to “dip into some delicious pancakes that (his) wife made” and began to have excruciating back spasms to the point the team’s personal trainer checked him out at practice that day and sent him home. Have no fear, Penner took the awkward incident in stride and turned it into an opportunity to give back. Penner’s people set up a raffle to win a chance to eat a pancake breakfast with the oaf, turning the fat-kid injury into a charitable experience. **Sidenote: It later came out that the pancakes were vegetarian (not carnivorous as many of you may have suspected)
Since that date, it should be noted that Penner has come back with a vengeance. Having been on the top line with the Stanley Cup winning Anaheim Ducks of 06-07 then being criticized for being out of shape in ’08, Penner’s performance had its ups and downs but, most recently, he has returned to fine form (in more than one way if you ask Chuck of What Up Ya Sieve) and grown a magnificent beard in the process. Penner has recorded 10 points to this point (3G, 7A), one of those goals being the game winner to send the Coyotes to an early summer. He appears to have put Pancakegate behind him, oh, and the wife that made the “delicious” veg pancakes… she’s far behind too.
- Los Anze-les– I won’t even lie, before I started collecting every Flyers shirsey known to man at an alarming rate, I owned 3 shirts with names and numbers on the back: Claude Giroux (I didn’t say I didn’t have ANY), Mike Green, and Anze Kopitar. Many found it odd for me to be rocking the crown on my shirt when I had little interest in the team itself (time changes all, people). I didn’t follow the Kings all that diligently, but I followed Kopitar. He hails from the town of Jesenice, Slovenia and was the first Slovenian player to be drafted to the NHL.He came onto the NHL scene in October of 2006 and became an All Star the following year. He was responsible for helping his team get to the playoffs last year but was unable to get them much further when he broke his ankle in March of 2011 (Youtube the video is you want to see physical anguish. I couldn’t put myself up to it here). He has consistently lead his team in scoring for the passed five years and looks to be a strong force in opposing the Devils. Also, he poses like a champ.
- The Quick and the Dead – If Kopi was last year’s ticket to the playoffs, Jonathan Quick long ago stamped that sucker for this year’s team. Maybe it’s something in his Wheaties, but Quick has proven to live up to his team’s expectations(I will not make puns, I will not make puns, I will not make puns…) and has been the shut down goaltender every team thought or wished they had. His superior ability to guard the net has kept every series the Kings have played in to a low score thus far and he does not look to be slowing down anytime soon. Finding his rhythm just as the regular season came to a close has allowed him to maintain a 1.54 goals against average and a save percentage of .946, both the best in this post season among goalies. For those Americans reading: he’s also been the lone US starting goal tender in these playoffs on one of the only teams in the league with an American captain and netminder duo. (Cue the Lee Greenwood!)
These are just a few reasons to proudly don purple when the Stanley Cup Finals pick up Wednesday, May 30th on NBC (check local listings for times).
Coming up next: Why the Devils may not be so hellish to follow.