Today’s number: 111.33. It’s the average regular season point total of the three teams that the Los Angeles Kings defeated to reach the Stanley Cup Final, a murderer’s row of juggernaut offensive squads fortified with claims to the throne of varying legitimacy. The Kings may have defeated the Presidents’ Trophy winner and swept the Northwest, Central and Pacific Divisions two years ago, but let’s face it, the Phoenix Coyotes aren’t in anyone’s most obscure hallucination the Chicago Blackhawks.

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Last year’s Western Conference Final was the House Money Series. The season had already been validated by a five-over-four first round reverse-sweep-slash-non-upset of St. Louis and a narrow seven-game advancement over a chief rival. Players were playing through injury, or in Willie Mitchell’s case, the hockey equivalent of being sent to Belize, and yet the Kings showed their mettle in a series that may not have been greatly closer than the four-to-one conclusion but still illuminated the team’s integral characteristics during a Game 5 that offered a preview of the core values so visible throughout these last six weeks. Hunger, determination, resolve, the burning desire to not “go away quietly,” and any other intangible characteristic you’ve read about in this column since the team stared down a three-nothing deficit in the face and did not blink for a week.

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And then you start thinking about windows of opportunity, and being within arm’s length of the ultimate goal in hockey with little to show for it, and hey, Robyn Regehr has been playing professional hockey for 14 seasons and had only played more than seven games in any postseason once in his career, and that defeat must have been excruciating. “We set out to defend the Cup, and we were unable to do that. In that sense, we fell short of what we wanted to do,” Jonathan Quick said less than 24 hours after Patrick Kane’s double overtime goal. Parking and riding is only that until you’re cleaning out your locker and staring into a three-month void immediately following a game in which your team was one of only four teams remaining.

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All of this is what makes the players, the coaches, the hockey operations so special and unheard of in the parity-driven post-2005 era of the National Hockey League. The salary cap more or less prevents teams like the Kings and Blackhawks from meeting in back-to-back conference finals and qualifying as the Western Conference’s Stanley Cup entry in four of the last five seasons. I love NBA basketball, but it has the most predictable postseason, you can count the number of major upsets over the last 20 years on one hand, and there are really only two, three, maybe four teams in any given year capable of planning a parade. The unpredictability of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is the antithesis of playoff basketball. Road teams are 6-1 in these playoffs in Game 7s. Teams have erased three-nothing deficits twice over the last five years. An eight seed won the Stanley Cup two years ago.

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To get to where they are right now, the Kings had to beat what wasn’t necessarily a mirror image of themselves, but an opponent that has the same temperament, the same knowledge of how to win, a team with a similar constitution led by a driven and composed team captain who through both narrative and performance is among the one or two most valuable players on all NHL rosters. They beat one of the few other teams that can back up championship expectations with the realistic means of attaining them, and to get there, they erased a three-nothing series deficit and eliminated a cross-metropolitan area rival before trading blows with the defending heavyweight champion for the maximum regulated time. It was a playoff series that comes around once every 20, 30 years, and it sustained what has evolved into the most remarkable of playoff runs.

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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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