May 25, 2012, 3:06 PM EDT
While Zach Parise knows tonight’s elimination game against the Rangers is a big challenge, he knows an even bigger challenge lies ahead.
Prior to Game 6, the Devils captain spoke about the buzzsaw that is Los Angeles Kings. They’re currently lying in wait for whomever emerges from the Eastern Conference, having already ran through the West with a 12-2 record through three rounds.
“You look at L.A., they sneak in on the eighth seed,” Parise told Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika. “All of a sudden, it’s almost as if they’re toying with teams now.”
“Toying” is an apt way to describe what the Kings have done. Consider…
— They’re undefeated (8-0) on the road.
— They’ve outscored opponents 41-22.
— They’ve only allowed more than two goals in regulation twice.
— They had an eight-game winning streak.
Now even though the narrative is compelling, it has to be said the Kings didn’t “sneak” into the playoffs like most eighth seeds do. They were five points clear of ninth place and missed winning the Pacific by two — in short, they could’ve easily been the Phoenix Coyotes (a loaded phrase, that.)
What the Kings did do, though, is flip the switch after a very mediocre end to the season. This 12-2 run was preceded by the Kings going 3-2-3 over their final eight games, many of which came before clinching a playoff berth.
Remember, the Kings only clinched on Apr. 5, with two games left in the regular season…and lost both, to San Jose, in a shootout and overtime respectively.
Feels like a long time ago, huh?
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