Though I haven’t read Murphy’s Laws of Playoff Predictions, I’m guessing one of them would work to ensure that the only prediction I’ve gotten totally correct so far (team and number of games – I correctly predicted that the Pens would advance, but thought they’d do it faster than 6 games) was the Kings vs. Canucks series. I predicted that Vancouver would win in 6 games and they did. Since I want the Kings to do well, that prediction was the one I most wanted to have wrong. So, naturally, it was the first I had exactly right. The last couple years, I did really well in playoff predictions. I was due for an off year, I guess. It’s very possible the Kings/Canucks series will be the only prediction I get exactly right in the first round.
Most of the players seemed to think (as I do) that Roberto Luongo stole the series for the Canucks. Luongo made a huge difference in the series – especially the last two games in Staples Center. Ryan Smyth pointed out that he thought Luongo got better as the series continued and I agree. He didn’t look as sharp in the first few games, but he was really amazing the last few games. In the playoffs, you need your key players to step up. The Kings’ number one scorer in the regular season was almost kept too far out of the equation by the Canucks and when Kopitar hit the post today, you could tell how frustrated he was getting. He knows he’s a player that should be up there scoring more than their defense and closer to the scoring of the Sedins. Perhaps it just takes time to adjust to playoff hockey. Terry Murray thought the Sedins made the difference in this series. They really stepped up their play in the last three games and he thinks they were the reason the Canucks beat the Kings to advance in the playoffs. Murray’s got a point. Luongo played all the games in the series and only really looked like the amazing goalie everyone knows in the games where the Sedins stepped up their play.
The last time a team similar to this Kings team got into the playoffs for the first time in a while with many players who’d never played a game in the playoffs, they didn’t even make it to 6 games. The Penguins lost a very disappointing 5 game series to the Senators. The picture of Crosby upset in the locker room seemed to be everywhere. A lot of people say you need to learn how to lose the playoffs before you can win them. When Helene Elliott asked Terry Murray’s thoughts on that, he said he agreed with the idea. The Penguins said the main thing they learned from that first playoff series for many of their players was that the playoffs are a lot of fun, but losing in the playoffs is a horrible experience. They made it to the Stanley Cup Finals the two years after that, winning the second year. If Kings fans could look forward to that outcome, I’m sure they’d be perfectly happy about their team not advancing this time.
This was the Kings’ first time in the playoffs since 2002. Most of the fans stayed for the entire game and cheered for their team at the end thanking them for getting back to the playoffs. The Kings and their fans know the future looks bright. They have a very good young team and a lot of good players in the system. It looks like they’ll be a force for years to come and have a good streak of making it to the playoffs now. However, next year if the Kings don’t make it beyond the first round, players and fans alike are sure to be very disappointed. One round isn’t going to be enough to satisfy the Kings next year.
As a side note, I’m a big fan of the Kings’ Back in Black logo. Every Kings fan I talked to really likes the logo. Unfortunately, the Kings only thought it was worth using this logo on one t-shirt (men’s sizes only, of course). Someday, perhaps they’ll realize that Alyssa Milano’s Touch line is a lot more along the lines of what women want than pink shirts that are too cutesy and not in line with the team’s colors.