It has taken me a week to write this. I've been dreading it. I've been grieving. [Ed. Note: and it took me a couple of days to get to editing it. Grieving as well, what's the rush? -CK]
The Kings stand alone.
I was one of the skeptics who didn't think that the Ducks would make it past Dallas. But they did. On the eve of Game 6 against Los Angeles, I was genuinely excited about the prospect of making the Western Conference Finals. When we failed to seal the deal, I was concerned but optimistic about our Game 7 prospects. But we all know how Game 7 went.
I've come to realize that the Ducks overachieved significantly this season, but that still doesn't dull the pain. But this isn't about my pain, or the Ducks' pain, it's about giving the Kings credit. The handshakes are as follows:
- Drew Doughty. You are emerging as the greatest star on a team full of stars. You are fifth in playoff ice time with 27:21, fifth in playoff scoring among defensemen (10 goals and 16 points), and you're plus-7. But you are so much more than your stats. Like all great players, you set an example on the ice, and raise other players to your level.
- Jonathan Quick. The semifinal was supposed to be about John Gibson's dominant playoff debut. There have been questions about your readiness at various points in the playoffs, but when the chips were down, you out-dueled Gibson and came through for your team.
- Marian Gaborik. Just recently, the Columbus Blue Jackets wrote off the "Gaborik experiment" as a failure. Didn't matter. You've found fresh legs with the Kings, and your overtime goal in Game 1 set the tone for the entire series.
- Jeff Carter. They may have called you "High and Wide" in Philadelphia, but things have clearly come together for you in LA. I was secretly (very secretly) happy for you - and your dear friend Mike Richards - when you both finally won a Cup in 2012. You, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are a nuisance. Please don't win another Cup this year. Please?