- Neil Greenberg, NHL
Cinderella has emerged in the NHL playoffs. The Los Angeles Kings, who slipped all the way from third place to eighth in the Western Conference in the final three days of the regular season, pulled off the biggest shocker of the postseason with their 4-1 upset of the West's top seed, the Vancouver Canucks.
The Kings became just the fifth No. 8 seed to defeat the team that won the Presidents' Trophy (awarded to the NHL team with the most regular-season points) since the NHL changed its playoff format in 1994.
Historical performance is a mixed bag for these Cinderella types. Neither the San Jose Sharks (who upset the Blues in 1999-2000) nor the Anaheim Ducks (who upset the Sharks in 2008-09) made it past the second round after their conference-quarterfinal upsets against the Presidents' Trophy winners. When Montreal stunned the Washington Capitals, who had set an NHL record for goals scored during the 2009-10 season, they lost to Philadelphia in the conference finals. As you can see in the chart below, Edmonton is the only team to parlay its upset into a Stanley Cup finals appearance, where it lost to Carolina in seven games in 2005-06.
The Kings also have an unspectacular 2-7 series record all time in the second round when they are the lower seed, but the St. Louis Blues, their next opponent, are just 3-5 as the higher seed. Is the timing right for the Kings to pull off another upset?
After knocking off top-seeded Vancouver, L.A. sets its sights on St. Louis. Stellar netminding and an offense due for a breakout are two reasons Neil Greenberg believes the Kings are ready for another upset.