It is, as they say, likely all over but the crying for the New Jersey Devils.
Teams come back from down 3-0 so very rarely – it’s happened once in finals history in the1940s – and this team hardly looks to be the one to do it given the way the Los Angeles Kings have steamrolled them in these finals.
In what may go down as the lowest scoring best-of-seven finals ever, the Kings have thus far outscored the Devils 8-2 through three games.
They’re at 40 per cent on the power play, 100 per cent on the penalty kill and netminder Jonathan Quick (who has only had to face 24 shots a game despite two going to overtime) is on pace for one of the best save percentages in finals history (.972).
And it’s not like this series has been an anomaly.
The Kings have started all four this year 3-0, which is another NHL record, and if they win Game 4 on Wednesday, will become only the second team in league history to go 16-2 en route to the Stanley Cup.
Looking at the 17 games they’ve already played, Los Angeles has put together one of the more dominant playoff runs that we’ve seen in the last 20 years, perhaps even going back to the last team to go 16-2 in the 1988 Edmonton Oilers.
Not bad for an eighth seed.
NHL.com provides in-depth team statistics going back as far as that 1987-88 season, which gives us 24 different postseasons to look at.
From that group of 23 Cup winners and one likely Cup winner to be, the Kings are second in win percentage, first in goals against, fourth in goal differential, second in 5-on-5 goal differential, first in penalty killing and first in save percentage.
The last 16 Stanley Cup winners by goal differential
The Kings have posted the best goals for to goals against ratio of any winning team since the 1995 New Jersey Devils.
Of all of those, goal differential may be the most significant measure of a team’s dominance over a stretch of games.
In these playoffs, the Kings have scored 2.88 goals per game and allowed just 1.41, a difference of 1.47 a game that is behind only the 1988 Oilers, 1990 Oilers and 1995 Devils among the last 24 Cup winners.
When adjusted for the high scoring era those teams played in, however, the Kings rank first, as they’ve scored more than 67 per cent of the goals in the games they’ve played.
(Those ‘95 Devils rank second with 66.3 per cent, followed by the 2001 Avalanche and 2008 Red Wings, who deserve honourable mention for outshooting their opponents by an average of 13 shots a game that year.)
It’s going to be interesting how this Kings team is remembered, assuming they finish the Devils off in the next game or two.
Some may want to brand them a low seed that got lucky, but in breaking down the numbers, that’s not quite right.
This was a good team that was unlucky for much of the year, one that caught fire in an era of parity and won series after series decisively.
I’m not sure we’ve ever seen anything quite like it. Or if we will again.