LOS ANGELES — Over the last five years, three teams have won the Stanley Cup: the Kings, the Blackhawks, and the Bruins. The two Western Conference teams have each won two Cups, with the Kings taking it in 2012 and 2014, and the Blackhawks in 2010 and 2013.
So as soon as the puck went past Henrik Lundqvist on Friday night in double overtime for a 3-2 win over the Rangers in Game 5, clinching the Cup for Los Angeles, the question was asked: Are the Kings on the verge of a dynasty?
“We’ve got a long way to go before that,” Jeff Carter said.
They’re not, not yet, though their young core makes them ripe for more championships.
“After we won the first one, all we wanted to do was win another one,” Drew Doughty said. “We kind of messed that up last year. We lost the Cup to another team and we wanted it back so bad. We felt like it was ours. We got her back and we’re happy now.”
Still, they have a long way and some stiff competition before they can start talking about a dynasty. The Blackhawks remain a top contender — they were an Alec Martinez overtime goal away from being in the Final this season — as do the Bruins. Both teams should return strong in the next few seasons, especially with Chicago set to lock up Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, likely soon.
As Kings coach Darryl Sutter said after Game 5, he knew that the Kings would have to get through the Blackhawks, something they weren’t able to do last season when they met in the Western Conference finals. So, as he said, “During the Olympics I always thought about this: How are we going to beat Chicago? How are we going to beat Chicago?”
It helped that general manager Dean Lombardi was able to snag Marian Gaborik from Columbus for the stretch run. And then, they beat Chicago.
“That’s a result of us, our management, keeping us together and us pulling together,” captain Dustin Brown said. “It’s really hard to do with a cap, but we found ways to find guys to come up and play well and add to our core here. The other thing about it: The 20 guys we had in here are special.”
But waiting for the Kings in the Final was not the team that most expected to be there. Instead of the Bruins — the consensus best team in a rather weak Eastern Conference — the Rangers were able to get past the Canadiens in the conference final, after Montreal had knocked out Boston in the semifinals.
Barring the Bruins not figuring out their matchup issues with Montreal — or their mental issues with Montreal — Boston should be the team most likely to be representing the Eastern Conference, especially with Pittsburgh looking like a bit of a mess.
But given the age of Zdeno Chara (37), the Bruins’ window is shrinking. Still, it’s not hard to imagine the Bruins battling for their second Cup in five years next season.
Jeremy Jacobs has said, since the Bruins failed to repeat in 2012, that the Cup is simply on loan from Boston. But since it was in the hands of the Bruins three years ago, it has taken up residence in Chicago once and Los Angeles twice.
“No one would have ever said it was a fluke because we were a good team,” Doughty said, of winning it the first time. “At the same time, now that we’ve won a second time, a lot of people can say if we’re not the best team in the league, we’re a top two, top three team in the league. And that’s a great feeling and it shows how well our team has pulled together.”
As for more Cups for the Kings?
“We’re going to try,” Anze Kopitar said. “We’re definitely going to try. I don’t think the core guys are going anywhere any time soon. We’re going to strive towards that.”