This year has turned out to be much more emotionally tiring than most would have thought it would be. This year the NHL and hockey fans everywhere must say goodbye to a true legend. Nicklas Lidstrom announced his retirement recently. He played 1,564 games in the NHL, won the Norris (Top defensive player) trophy seven times, and won four Stanley cups over his 20 season career. His skills and his sportsmanship made him a pleasure to watch. He had a long career and it has been a pleasure being able to watch him play for all these years. Thank you Nicklas Lidstrom for being a real class act and making the game of hockey so enjoyable to watch. Another legend will also be absent during the 2012-2013 NHL season. Boston Bruins‘ goalie Tim Thomas announced that he is taking the next year off. Thomas says he is taking the year off to spend time with his family, friends, and his faith. Over the course of the 2011-2012 season Thomas finished with 35 wins, 19 losses, .920 save percentage and had a goals against average of 2.36. While the Bruins playoff run was short lived this year, Thomas still played a huge role in their successes. The 2011 Vezina (top goalie) trophy winner will be missed this next season, and hopefully his hiatus will not be permanent.
While losing two beloved players this year, the Stanley Cup playoffs have not been going the way that many have expected. At the beginning of the season who would have thought that the LA Kings would be in the Stanley Cup Final? There is a lot t be said about the Kings and their playoff run. They came into the playoffs as the eight place seed and have been on a tear ever since. The eliminated the first place seed Canucks, the second place seed Blues, the third place seed Coyotes, and now they are up 2-0 in the series against the Devils. The only question that can be asked is what on earth has gotten into the Kings? It appears that the eighth place underdogs have just hit their stride at the right time. It could also be argued that the Kings have been getting lucky in how the series have been going. The first series was supposed to be Vancouver’s to lose, yet there were the Kings and they took the series 4-1. Next came the Blues. The Blues were coming off a 4-1 series win over the Sharks. Again the Kings were the underdogs, and once again they overcame the underdog label and took the series 4-0. Finally came the last series in the western conference against the Coyotes. The Coyotes were coming off of 4-1 series win over the Predators. The Coyotes appeared tired and the Kings took the series 4-1. Then came the wait to see who from the Eastern conference the Kings would be playing between the Rangers and the Devils. The Devils took the series from the rangers 4-2 but those six games were battles. Could the physical play and aggression between the Rangers and the Devils in that series be part of the reason that the Kings have taken a 2-0 lead in the series? Are the Devils tired? Only time and more games will answer these questions. The Kings have been lucky, but they also have the goalie that has played the best in the playoffs. The outstanding play of Jonathan Quick has been the difference maker it appears. Game three of the series airs on Monday, June 4, 2012.