Looking back at the Los Angeles Kings improbable Stanley Cup win, there is one identifying feature of their play that set them apart. We’ve all been through how well certain individuals played. Jonathan Quick rightfully earned the Conn-Smyth. Dustin Brown continued a tour de force that started at the trade deadline and didn’t stop until the cup went skywards. Anze Kopitar went from playing in the shadows to needing SPF90 just to play a game. Then there was Drew Doughty he held out during camp, got concussed early on, and by the time it was all said and done his play was the closest thing to Ray Bourque’s that the league has.
But none of those players for all their stellar play is why they won the Stanley Cup. Goaltending is an underrated part of NHL game. A mockery was made of defense at the NHL awards. As for goal scoring, the Kings potted less than a half a goal more per game than the Florida Panthers. Team work got the job done.
The highest level of that team mentality wasn’t one of the fights (which were great) or the powerplay which was mostly not worth mentioning. The one defining feature, the zenith of their teamwork was their puck anticipation, and puck tracking. If their was a shot from the point that went to the net mouth and rattled off of two or three bodies, the number of times a Kings player wasn’t the first to the puck can be totalled on one hand for all four rounds. The level of synergy between players was impressive. Of all the teams to display something similar the last Cup winning Detroit team is the best example.
But knowing where the puck would be was only part of it. They got to it and acted calmly. The puck went where it needed to go. The transition from puck chase to continued play was instant. While the puck was being pursued, the other players were headed in the right direction. No one needed to be told where to go or guess where to be, they just did it. That’s the type of teamwork all teams should aspire to.