“Narrative” has become a four-letter word these days. It’s a lazy crutch the media uses in lieu of research, or a fairytale that fans cling to in lieu of facts.
But at this point in the season, it’s the narrative that attracts viewers or creates heroes or gives us those weirdly linear storylines that are traced through four rounds. And if you're someone that thinks the team with the best storylines for the commemorative Blu-Ray usually wins the Cup (raises hand), then the narratives can be captivating.
Or just media-driven nonsense. You make the call.
The Kings are on a rather epic journey through the postseason, not only in the foes they’ve beaten but in how they’ve beaten them.
The first round featured that 0-3 series comeback win over their archrivals the San Jose Sharks, becoming only the fourth team in NHL history to dig out of that hole for a series victory.
The second round featured their seven-game victory over their arch archrivals the Anaheim Ducks, whom they previously played this season on a baseball field. They overcame a rookie goalie trying to Dryden them (or at least Cam Ward them) and, in the process, won a second straight Game 7 on California ice that wasn’t their own.
The third round featured a series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks; with Kings having won the Cup in 2012, there were some dynastic overtones to the battle for Western Conference supremacy. They Kings held off a Chicago rally from being down 1-3 and won a third straight Game 7 on the road, setting an NHL record.
Take all the players on the Kings roster, add their Game 7 records together, and you’ll find that they’ve lost a combined seven of them in their careers while winning a combined 90. Which is insane.
So the Kings have that going for them. And the Rangers have the tear-jerker, along with some anniversary magic.
On the latter point: It’s been 20 years since the Rangers played for the Cup and won the darn thing in that 54-year-curse-snapping performance. Matteau, Matteau … the Messier guarantee … Mike Richter … it’s all part of the narrative for this Rangers team.
So is the fact that John Tortorella swapped jobs with Alain Vigneault, and the new guy managed to get the Rangers where the old guy couldn’t, while the old guy missed the playoffs and was fired and stuff. (/Sad trombone)
But the narrative for the Rangers continues to be the Marty St. Louis Story.
The veteran winger demanded a trade from Tampa Bay this season after being a franchise cornerstone since 2000. GM Steve Yzerman snubbed him from the Canadian Olympic team, and despite eventually making the roster as an injury replacement St. Louis still asked out. The Rangers were always the choice because he has a home in Connecticut.
So he put his reputation on the line in asking for a trade and promptly crapped the bed, with one goal in 19 games after scoring 29 in 62 with Tampa this season. His playoffs weren't strong either … until he faced personal tragedy off the ice.
St. Louis lost his mother, France, on May 8 from a sudden heart attack. He chose to play in Game 5 of their series against the Penguins the following day. To a man, the Rangers admitted that the moment brought them together, and that seeing St. Louis play through that tragedy was inspiring.
Since Game 5 of the Penguins series, the Rangers are 7-3. St. Louis had seven points in that stretch, including the OT game-winner in Game 4 against the Montreal Canadiens.
Who knows what any of this means for the following round. Could be fate. Could be media driven nonsense. But as far as storylines go, we’re going with …