Jun 13, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings players celebrate after defeating the New York Rangers in game five of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Kings Win Second Stanley Cup in Three Seasons; Lundqvist Reaches New Level of Excellence despite Loss

It doesn’t seem possible but the 2013-14 season, after eight long months of memorable hockey, has finally come to a close with the Los Angeles Kings as the NHL’s Stanley Cup champions, for the second time in three seasons.

Los Angeles cleaned up the New York Rangers last night in a 3-2 double-overtime victory – Alec Martinez punched in the winning goal at 14:43 off a rebounded shot by teammate Tyler Toffoli – taking the series 4-1 at the Staples Center.

For those of you lucky enough to have stuck around to watch last night’s game, it was one of the most intense games I have ever seen: with close call after close call, followed by even more close calls.

Several moments of:

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

“What!? That didn’t go in!?”; “Come on! Seriously?”; “Amazing! Simply amazing!”; “Henrik is on fire!”

To:

“They look tired.”; “So much pressure.”; “This is a great game.”; “Will they ever score?”; “I can’t believe that didn’t go in. This is nuts.”

Finally with:

“Hell of a team.”; “Drew Doughty is going to sleep for a week.”

Henrik Lundqvist deserves the Lion’s share of the credit for New York for making a five-game series feel like seven, and keeping his Blue Shirts in the mix for longer than seemed possible.

Lundqvist has always been an elite goaltender in the league, and one day will go down most likely as the best backstop to wear a Rangers jersey (he already owns a ton of franchise records: regular and post season), but he reached some kind of next level last night, and in the preceding Game Four; some kind of higher gear, that was a real pleasure to watch.

You found yourself transfixed with his ability to find the puck anywhere on the ice, get where he needed to be, and thwart all of Los Angeles’ continuous attacks on net for so long it became maddening.

I was particularly impressed with his knack for keeping the puck out of the net when a stampede of players collided with him and around him, several times, during the trailing minutes of regulation, and in overtime. Simply jaw-dropping. A masterful performance in net by the Rangers’ goaltender.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

My hat is firmly off and waving in respect to the King of New York.

The Kings may have won the Cup but King Henrik has nothing to hang his head low about.

Oh, and yes, I’m quite pleased that Martin St. Louis (not so much Brad Richards, though) didn’t win a Stanley Cup with his new club.

I like to believe karma had something to do with that, but at the end of the day I know it was a really, really good Los Angeles team that’s responsible, and the Western Conference these really, really good teams come from.

The Rangers had one helluva run to the Finals; a run no one saw coming, but the best come from the West. At least right now they do. And I really didn’t think the Rangers had much of a chance against that.

Turns out I was right.

Maybe next year the Tampa Bay Lightning can give some of those vaunted Western Conference teams a run for their money. I sure hope so.

From now till October, we in the Bolts Nation can finally start dreaming up next year’s hoped for accomplishments. And all the joy we know that will come from being there to witness it.

It’s been a pleasure watching and sharing hockey with you guys this season. Can’t wait for the 2014-15 season to begin!

GO BOLTS!

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