I almost missed Friday's Game Five between the Kings and Rangers. I'd convinced myself, for some reason, that the game was going to be tonight, and didn't even question that until eleven.
But I finally checked on it then (remembering they were playing in LA, so there was some chance of it still being on), and found that regulation time had just expired without a winner being chosen. For once, I was glad of overtime.
I noticed, before it started, that the Kings had a large edge in shots; in fact, they held the Rangers to less than seven shots in all three periods. So it was a bit amazing that the Rangers were tied. Even more amazing, looking back, Fenwick was staying very close until five or so minutes into the second, but both Rangers goals were scored after that, when possession was solidly favoring the Kings.
So how did things go when play started back up? Well, the Kings were solidly dominant when they weren't on the penalty kill, basically. They had a penalty to kill in each overtime, and did so, but the Rangers got a bunch of chances each time. In fact, it was amazing, both times, that the Rangers didn't score.
But the Kings kept up the continuous pressure, and they had a great many chances as well. And three-quarters of the way through the second overtime, that pressure finally paid off, when Martinez put in a rebound of a Toffoli shot from the opposite-side point. He threw his stick in the air, then his gloves, then went to find teammates; great to watch.
Williams (who also had the first goal in this game) got the Conn Smythe award for playoff MVP, which was an excellent choice, I must say. Gaborik would've also been very reasonable; not only did he score the other regulation goal in the game, but that brought him within a goal of Gretzky's team record for goals in one play-off season (though he did have two extra games).
So, my initial analysis of the Kings winning the Cup as soon as they beat Chicago wasn't hugely off. It took five games, but only because Lundqvist played out of his mind for game four. You could even make an argument that the only reason the Rangers made it to overtime three times was because of Lundqvist, even. They were just so massively outshot (on net is 194-146; I'm surprised to see that Corsi and Fenwick were a bit closer) that it's hard to see the Rangers winning four games without them playing ten or so. Certainly, it would have been one hell of an upset.
Anyway, hats off to the Kings for winning the Cup for the second time in three years. And to show the determination to battle their way through three consecutive seven-game series (I believe the first to do so). And one of the six teams to win a Stanley Cup Final with three or more overtime games (the Rangers, ironically, are one of the others, winning in 1940).
Congratulations to the Kings and their fans for one hell of a season. I certainly enjoyed watching them in the playoffs, as my tweet-stream would show.
And thank goodness the series didn't go longer; one night of overlap with the World Cup was enough. I'll have more to say about that, shortly.