What an absolutely atrocious end to a season that had so much magic to it that Disneyland started getting jealous.
I will start off this handshake line by saying I hope that game downright HAUNTS the Anaheim Ducks for this entire season and the entire year next year. That absolutely despicable effort in game seven proved to me that the team learned absolutely nothing from last season about showing up to play when the spotlight shines brightest. For the second straight year, the Ducks had a chance to finish the series off in six, only to put forth a mediocre effort and then crap their pants with all eyes on them; and this time they did it to the goddamn Eric Cartman of the NHL in their northern neighbors. And don't even get me started on the fact that Teemu Selanne's career just ended at their hands.
Speaking of those guys, the Los Angeles Kings played this series almost perfectly, and there were guys who definitely caught my attention. I'd like to recognize them.
Props to defenseman Alec Martinez, who stepped up and had an absolute whale of a series when normal defensive stalwarts Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regher went down with injuries. I can't think of anybody else on the Kings blueline (save for Drew Doughty) who gave the Ducks more trouble than Alec Martinez, who blocked shots, took pucks away, and moved it to his forwards almost flawlessly the entire series.
Props to the young guys Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, who finally made me see why Kings fans are so stoked about them. Both are young, aggressive, and super speedy. Their line with Jeff Carter made me want to tear my hair out repeatedly due to their simply speeding past Anaheim's sluggish, flat-footed defense to recover a puck. For a young line that the Ducks should have potentially had the advantage over, they certainly proved otherwise.
Props to Daryl Sutter who has made his team the masters of the six-foot pass, utilizing the extraordinarily safe and easy to execute maneuver to work past nearly any forecheck the Ducks threw at them and through the neutral zone with very dangerous speed.
Props to Jonathan Quick, who once again proved himself to be a goalie who comes up big in the game's biggest moments. I believe his numbers are still inflated by his air-tight defense in front of him, but he certainly made a number of game-saving stops in this series to keep the Ducks out of it. He continues to be a force in net in the NHL, and will continue to be a massive pain in the ass to play against for years to come.
And lastly, and perhaps most begrudgingly, props to Marian Gaborik for making me eat my words. I predicted at the trade deadline that Gaborik would make no difference for LA, scoring a few in the remainder of the regular season before disappearing entirely in the playoffs. Well not only did that not happen, but he singlehandedly outscored the entire Ducks roster for the entirety of the playoffs IN ONE SERIES. The fact that the Kings got him for a mediocre bottom-six forward and a second round pick is a travesty of justice.
(Sidenote: massive turds to the Anaheim defense for somehow never figuring out to, oh, you know, COVER HIM?!!)
With the way the NHL is aligned now and the talent level in the Pacific Divsion, it wouldn't surprise me if this was the first playoff series of many between these two teams over the next several seasons. I hope I never have to write a losing one of these to them again.