LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11: Drew Doughty #8 and Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate the Kings 6-1 victory as they win the Stanley Cup in Game Six of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
It took team-wide contributions to reel off a 16-4 playoff march, but the Kings are Stanley Cup champions because their stars played like stars all playoffs long.
He hadn't scored in nearly a month but he was key to their playoff run, so it was only fitting that Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown scored a goal and two assists in their Stanley Cup-clinching victory Monday night.
He had scored in 11 playoff games already, so it was only appropriate that defenseman Drew Doughty -- a phenom and Norris candidate at age 22 -- collected two more assists in the 6-1 Kings victory.
He is the chief reason the 2012 Stanley Cup champions ever squeaked into the playoffs, so it is only proper that Jonathan Quick capped off this historic run by allowing only one goal in Game 6 -- and seven total goals in the entire six-game series win over the New Jersey Devils.
Quick's 16-4 record, 1.41 goals against average and .946 save percentage are figures that get listed in bold in record books, the kind that highlight the back of hockey cards and mark childhood memories for years to come. Just as Quick watched in nervous awe as an 8-year-old while Mike Richter backstopped the New York Rangers to the title in 1994, surely countless kids paced in their living rooms wearing silver-and-black masks as Quick held the fort for the first Kings Stanley Cup after a 45-year wait. (A wait, it must be noted, just under a decade shy of the Rangers' historic Cup drought that ended in '94.)
The Sublime Slovenian
These are the stars of the Kings' storied spring -- "their best players being their best players," as the playoff cliche goes. And yet we haven't even gotten to Anze Kopitar, who may have been the best of the bunch and who certainly has an entire nation of kids dancing in admiration at their hero.
Kopitar, the still criminally unsung Slovenian star, could have easily won the Conn Smythe that was awarded to Quick as playoff MVP. Like his linemate Brown, Kopitar scored eight goals and 12 assists in these playoffs, a point-per-game pace to lead all scorers (Brown's total was enhanced by two empty-net goals).
That's no indictment of Quick; he was outstanding as he has been all year. Rather it's an acknowledgment that while Quick carried a flawed team to the playoffs, that flawed team had figured its problems out by the time the postseason rolled around. Suddenly Quick wasn't an absolute necessity for a poor team; he was a bonus for a dominant one.
Kopitar shined throughout, providing an unstoppable matchup problem for the top three seeds in the Western Conference as the Kings methodically mowed down two conference favorites and their own division's winner in just 14 games. Then Kopitar opened the Stanley Cup Finals series with a breathtaking display of skill to win Game 1 in overtime. He is an ideal mix of flashy skill, imposing size and two-way hockey intelligence that extends all 200 feet of the rink.
Of course a team cannot win without that whole "team" thing. They need grinders and quietly disciplined defensemen. Jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser provided the former, Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi represented the latter.
They also need timely scoring from surprising places and contributions from secondary scorers. Dwight King -- whose five goals in the playoffs equaled his regular-season total -- took his Chris Kontos turn as the former, while Jeff Carter and Mike Richards provided the latter safely out of the spotlight and featured role they held in Philadelphia.
A long list of contributions and excellent breaks is necessary for any team to go all the way, even a team as dominant as these 16-4 Kings were. But they don't get anywhere without Kopitar and Brown, who led all playoff scorers. Or without Doughty, who outscored all defensemen and didn't meet a minute he couldn't munch. Or Quick, who put up numbers we'll still look back on 50 years from now and say, "Really? No wonder they only lost four."
For a team that had all its stars clicking all playoffs long, it's only fitting.