NHL Playoffs 2012: L.A. Kings More Dominant Than Ever After Sweeping St. Louis

Steven Slivka@@StevenSlivkaCorrespondent IIIMay 7, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 06:  Drew Doughty #8 and Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate a 3-1 win and a 4-0 game sweep of the St. Louis Blues in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on May 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

When the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs began, the Los Angeles Kings were a mere afterthought in the minds of hockey experts everywhere.

Now after winning eight of their nine postseason games, the Kings have moved from the shacks of South Central to the oceanfront property of Malibu.

After sweeping the second-seeded St. Louis Blues to advance to the Western Conference Finals, the Kings have all of the momentum in the world behind them and have become the elite team in this year's playoffs.

Not bad for a No. 8 seed.

Despite all of their questions offensively, the Kings outscored the Blues 15-6 in the series and trailed for a total of seven minutes in the series.

The Blues came in as one of the best defensive teams in the NHL led by goaltender Brian Elliott, who had been nearly flawless before facing the Kings.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles dominated the entire series forcing several penalties on the Blues, and driving St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchock crazy in the process.

Dustin Brown scored two goals including an empty-netter in the series-clinching game and proved to be just as dominant in the second round as he was in the first.

Anze Kopitar led all players with six points in the series and goaltender Jonathan Quick showed exactly why he is Vezina trophy material posting a 4-0 record with a GAA of 1.50 and a save percentage of .941.

With every King contributing, Los Angeles was able to silence the Blues and shock the rest of the hockey world by making its deep run in the playoffs look so easy.

The Kings applied severe pressure on the forecheck by sending three men at a time and proving St. Louis would be unable to set up anything offensively.

Despite a second period where they outshot L.A., 13-2, St. Louis was unable to get anything past Quick.

The Blues entered the postseason giving up 1.89 goals per game, a number good enough to lead the league. The Kings came in at No. 2 with 2.07.

L.A. was the only team to stick to that trend in the series.

With an injured Jaroslav Halak unable to play in the series, all of the pressure rested on the shoulders of Elliott.

His inability to make clutch saves cost his team when the series was on the line.

Not to mention the fact St. Louis had no answer for the Kings' offensive pressure and their relentless goalie.

The Kings have made the eighth seed look insulting. They are playing the best hockey in the NHL and now have more than a week to rest up for the conference finals.

L.A. has not had this kind of postseason success since 1993, when the Barry Melrose-coached Kings lost to a young Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 06:  Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings reacts to a goal by Dustin Brown #23 for a 3-1 lead during the last minute of the third period in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff
Harry How/Getty Images

The Kings are the first team since the 2003 Anaheim Mighty Ducks to take out both No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the playoffs. They had never swept a postseason opponent in franchise history either.

Now they are heading into the conference finals playing at an unmatched level with plenty of rest to keep them healthy the rest of the way through.

The sky is the limit for the surprising Los Angeles Kings, and with the top two seeded teams proving to be useless against them, they should be highly feared entering the next round.

For the love of Luc Robitaille, could this be the year the Kings finally taste Stanley Cup greatness?

It seems like a definite possibility and with all of Los Angeles behind them, the Kings have proven they are more than just a playoff team: they're a championship team.