Brief and to the Point …
What else can you say about a No. 8 seed that goes 16-4, takes out the top three seeds in its conference, then steamrolls a worthy opponent to raise sports’ greatest trophy?
The Los Angeles Kings, born the same year as the Penguins, finally raised the Cup late last night at the Staples Center. They had every ingredient from scoring depth up the middle (note to Penguins in terms of keeping their own), big, banging wingers (note to Penguins in terms of finding some), a talented defenseman playing up to his level in Drew Doughty (note to Kris Letang), stay-at-home defensemen like Rob Scuderi (note to wherever else Scuderi’s money went), and a goaltender playing his best in the biggest games in Jonathan Quick (note to Marc-Andre Fleury).
I write this not to cut down the Penguins but, quite to the contrary, to stress how remarkably similar they are with three notable differences:
1. The Penguins have the two best players in the world. The Kings don’t.
2. The Penguins became too small on the boards.
3. The Kings knew what to do when stuck in their own zone. Their plan actually accounted for something more than, hey, let’s get it to the other end.
And I’ll add a fourth: The Kings very clearly were coached superbly on the power play. You could see it in their movement, their unpredictability, their decision-making. The results weren’t always there, but I’ll take that system over the Penguins’ coaches flailing for answers.
Anyway, not a time for negativity: It’s exceptionally cool as a lifelong hockey lover to see the Kings as champions. Not sure why. Just one of those franchises you kind of felt sorry for, all the way out on the West Coast by themselves for so many years, always with the worst travel schedule, often blessed with great players but no championship.
What a season.
>> Here it is, the greatest trophy presentation in sports. All others pale.
>> Here is the Los Angeles Times’ front page. There still isn’t anything that captures a big moment like a hold-in-your-hand newspaper.
>> Brad Lincoln takes the bump in Baltimore, where the locals are glowing about the Orioles similar to what’s beginning to happen here.
There are all kinds of reasons this series is important for the visitors, most of them terribly obvious. But I’ll reiterate that Lincoln needs to step up for the Pirates to have full faith in their pitching depth to make a trade. If he looks like a legit — even if unspectacular — starter, you add Rudy Owens into the chart, and there’s plenty to give.
>> This Jerry Sandusky trial is going to be a nonstop stomach turn, but it’s also essential to a horrific problem in our society. That’s not just at Penn State, obviously, though this is going to be painted by some as the institution on trial.
At the same time, the words of Victim 4 regarding Tom Bradley and others previously not implicated … wow. Can’t imagine where this will go. Really can’t.
>> I’ll be over at the start of the Steelers’ minicamp on the South Side, where the headline of the day is sure to be the arrival of rookie linemen David DeCastro and Mike Adams.
Curious to hear: How do you feel about starting two rookies on the line?
>> I’ll leave you today with this photoshop special from my 11-year-old yesterday …
She wanted it to kind of look like real graffiti.