L.A. Kings: The Most Surprising Team In Recent Sports History

on June 05 2012 12:13 PM
 The Los Angeles Kings won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
The Los Angeles Kings won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. IBTimes Pictures

The Los Angeles Kings are on the verge of completing one of the greatest runs in American sports history.

L.A. leads the Devils 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals and could sweep New Jersey with a win at home on Wednesday night.

The Kings have been dominant in the playoffs. They've lost just twice in four series, going 15-2 in the postseason. They have yet to lose on the road and have been in position to sweep each of their four series.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Kings run is that it has come on the heels of an unimpressive regular season. L.A. snuck into the playoffs as the eighth seed, registering 95 points on the year. Even if Los Angeles played in the Eastern Conference, they still would have only been the No. 7 seed.  

Some experts had high expectations for the Kings before the season started. They're certainly talented, but it would have been nearly impossible to expect such a run from this team.

With the way the Kings struggled in the regular season and manner in which they've dominated in the playoffs, is this the most surprising postseason run in recent sports history?

It's hard to find a team that has had a bigger turnaround in the playoffs in the four major American sports.

One more win would make the Kings the only eighth seed to win a title. The Devils became the lowest seed to win the Stanley Cup Finals when they won a championship in 1995 with the fifth best record in the East.

In the NBA, the sixth seed Rockets won a championship in 1995. Houston didn't have the best regular season, but they were less of a surprising champion than the Kings might become. The Rockets finished 12 games over .500 in a competitive Western Conference. They had one of the league's best players in Hakeem Olajuwon and won the title the year before.

Houston underachieved in the regular season but had proven in 1994 that they had what it took to win the whole thing.

The 2006 St. Louis Cardinals share some similarities with the Kings.

Unlike Los Angeles, St. Louis won its division. However, they may have struggled even more in the regular season. The Cardinals finished that year just five games over .500, while the Kings had 13 more regulation wins than losses this past season.

The Cardinals, though, did not blow through their competition in the playoffs like the Kings in 2012. St. Louis barely escaped the NLCS, beating the Mets in seven games.

St. Louis' feat was also less difficult to accomplish. They only had to win 11 games in order to win a championship. A Stanley Cup victory for the Kings would come after five more total victories and one more series win than the 2006 Cardinals.

The 2011 Cardinals also barely made the playoffs, coming back from 10.5 games out in the Wild Card standings in late August to eventually make the playoffs and win the World Series. But they won 90 games during the year and lost seven games in the playoffs.

In the NFL, this past year's Giants team may be the closest thing to the Kings.

New York became the first team to win a Super Bowl while winning less than 10 games in a 16-game schedule. They had to win their final two games just to make the playoffs and went on to have a few dominant victories on their way to the Super Bowl.

New York blew out the heavily favored Packers, just like the Kings beat the top-seeded Canucks in five games. The Giants run was probably less surprising though, since they won the Super Bowl in a similar fashion in 2008.

The Kings still have one win to go, but what they are doing is unprecedented.

There have been plenty of teams to shock the sports world and win an unexpected championship. Multiple teams have breezed through the playoffs en route to a title.

The 2011-2012 L.A. Kings may be the first to do both in the same season.

More News from IBT MEDIA