ICE HOCKEY – The New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings will play in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. We have put together a mixed bag of facts on the season finale in the NHL, the most powerful competition in ice hockey.
European exhibition improves Stanley Cup chances
The last three cup champions started the season playing in Europe. Pittsburgh played against Ottawa in Sweden (2008/2009), Chicago played against Florida in Finland (2009/2010) and Boston against Phoenix in Czech Republic (2010/2011). The Los Angeles Kings can carry on the series, because they began season 2011/2012 in Sweden, where they beat New York Rangers.
Easy as one, two, three
The Kings became only the second team in the current playoff setup to eliminate the top three seeded teams (Vancouver - seed 1, St. Louis - seed 2, Phoenix - seed 3). Only the Calgary Flames had managed to achieve the feat (in 2003/2004). Both teams were managed by Darryl Sutter. The Flames lost that final against Tampa Bay in seven games.
The winning captain will be American-born for the first time since 1999 (Derian Hatcher of the Dallas Stars), while both teams have American-born captains (Dustin Brown for the Kings and Zach Parise for the Devils).
Stanley Cup Finals history
This is the fifth appearance for the Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals, they won the competition in 1995, 2000 and 2003. This is only second Stanley Cup Finals appearance for the Kings, they lost against Montreal Canadiens 19 years ago. If the Kings win it, they will become the 18th franchise to win the cup. The most successful franchise are the Canadiens with 24 cups.
Lowest seed to win Stanley Cup
2012 Stanley Cup Finals guarantees the lowest-seeded Stanley Cup champion, another record previously held by the Devils who won the Cup as a fifth seed in 1995. Devils are seeded as sixth and Kings as eight.
Devils could become only the ninth team in history of NHL to win Stanley Cup after not reaching playoffs the season before. Los Angeles could become only the seventh city to win titles in all four major North American sports
Brought to you by Slavko Jeric (find him on Twitter @lavkeri). Slavko is a regular contributor to our website.