So now that I've had a few months to digest the Kings' Stanley Cup victory, my eyes have been turning towards the bigger picture. The Kings were clearly the best team in the NHL this season, but where do they stand among other champions? After careful research, I think I know. Were the Kings the best Stanley Cup champion since the lockout? Let's find out!
For reference, the Kings were the 3rd best team in terms of Goals For, the best in terms of Goals Against, and best in overall goal differential and 5-on-5 goal differential. They had the best goaltender in the playoffs statistically and the leading scorer in the playoffs. Remember that as we examine past champions.
2011 Stanley Cup Champion- Boston Bruins
Strengths: Dominant #1 defenseman, fantastic goaltender, 5th in GF, 1st in GA
Verdict: The Bruins were built on great defense and fantastic goaltending... but the Kings were better and had the better offense. Plus they didn't take 7 games to beat the Canucks. I'll say the Kings were better.
2010 Stanley Cup Champion- Chicago Blackhawks
Strengths: Great offense, dominant #1 defenseman, 3rd in GF, 5th in GA
Verdict: The Blackhawks were probably one of the more dominant possession teams we've seen in the playoffs... but they kind of needed to be because that goaltender they had was terrible. (Is he in the league anymore? I don't even know.) It would have been an interesting match-up, for sure. It'd probably come down to the center match-up, which obviously means the Kings would be better.
2009 Stanley Cup Champions- Pittsburgh Penguins
Strengths: The top 2 centers in the league, 2nd in GF, 5th in GA
Verdict: The Pittsburgh Penguins were led by Evgeni Malkin & his sidekick Sidney Crosby, a formidable duo if I've ever seen one. The two ran roughshod over the defensemen in the playoffs in the playoffs and especially in the Final... but then again, they never faced anyone as formidable as Drew Doughty. I think he would make the Kings better.
2008 Stanley Cup Champions- Detroit Red Wings
Verdict: Please. Better.
2007 Stanley Cup Champions- Ottawa Senators
Strengths: Dominant top line, 2 dominant defensemen, 2nd in GF, 6th in GA
Verdict: The Senators were a dominant force in their Cup run. Most people would point to their top line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza & Daniel Alfredsson, but I'd point to their 2 awesome defensemen, Wade Redden & Joe Corvo. Having 2 defensemen that great opens up so much for your team and makes you really, really tough to beat. Especially when those 2 defensemen are Wade Redden & Joe Corvo. Man, I don't know if I've seen two defensemen like that on the same team! Of course, their goaltender isn't that great but I'm not sure if that's much of an issue. Ultimately, though, I think the Kings' depth make them better.
2006 Stanley Cup Champions- Carolina Hurricanes
Strengths: Dominant #1 center, dominant goaltender, 5th in GF, 3rd in GA
Verdict: Hoo boy... Eric Staal, Corey Stillman AND Rod Brind'Amour? Fuck. I... I don't think the Kings can beat these guys. Then you throw in Cam Ward on top of it and... nope, I have to admit, the Kings are worse.
So there's where I think the Kings stand in the history books. I wish they could end up as the best Stanley Cup champion since the lockout but that Hurricanes team is going down as one of the all-time greats. Hey, there's no shame in finishing 2nd.
...Huh. Now I know how the Devils felt.