5 Phoenix Coyotes (42-27-13) 97 Points
The Pacific Division champs came close to being the first team from a desert to play and possibly win the cup. No one in their right mind would have figured that the team formally known as the Winnipeg Jets and the Kings would be playing for the right to go to the Stanley Cup finals. The third seed out of the west won its first playoff series since 1987 against the Chicago Blackhawks (when they were the Jets and when many of Top 5’s readers were born). The Coyotes put away the Nashville Predators in five games in the conference semifinals only to have the Kings put an end to that fairy tale in the conference finals in five games.
4 New Jersey Devils (48-28-6) 102 Points
The Devils didn’t make the playoffs last season, but came back to make it to the finals this year with an ageless future hall of fame goalie. The Devils finished fourth in the Atlantic Division and got in as the sixth seed from the east making the playoffs for the 20th time in 22 seasons. The Devils got a scare early by being pushed to seven games against the Florida Panthers, but went on to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 and the Rangers in six games. That might have been too much for the geezer they had in goal as the Kings prevailed in the finals.
3 St. Louis Blues (49-22-11) 109 Points
The Blues won the Central Division, were the second seed and looked like a team to beat — for the Kings. The Blues were looking to sway some of the Cardinals fans their way as they somehow won the Central Division over the Detroit Red Wings for the first time since the 1999-2000. Once the Kings got rid of the Canucks in the first round, it looked like they would be easy fodder for the Blues. The Blues were coming off their first playoff win series since 2002 by doing something that every team in the west does — beat the San Jose Sharks. That would be all as they decided to hit the golf course early as the Kings humiliated them in a 4-0 sweep.
2 New York Rangers (51-24-7) 109 Points
When was the last time the Rangers were in anyone’s top 5? They won the Atlantic Division for the first time since they won the Stanley Cup in 1993-94. That would have set up a Los Angeles verses New York final, which would have had NBC, which was carrying the finals, drooling. But the Devils put a stop to that nonsense with a 4-2 win in the Eastern Conference finals. The Rangers, which were the top seeded team in the east, gave New York hockey fans something to cheer for the first time since carrying the cup during the first Bill Clinton administration.
1 Los Angeles Kings (40-27-15) 95 Points
For the entire spring, the city of Los Angeles was a Hockey Town and for once the three pro basketball teams that rent Staples Center (the L.A. Sparks are a pro women’s team whether you believe it or not) were playing second fiddle to hockey!This team was an afterthought that even the Sparks had more banners hanging from the rafters at Staples Center than the Kings. But the Kings won theirs in style and put together one of the greatest season for a team in any sport by becoming the only eighth seed towin a championship. It was the first for the Kings, which have been around since 1968. Quick led the league in shutouts with 10 and was second in goals against average at 1.95. But somewhere down the Interstate 5 in Anaheim, the Ducks and their fans could give a crap, because they won their cup first and did it in a shorter time.
Boston Bruins (49-29-4) 102 Points
The Northeast Division winners and defending Stanley Cup champions were probably a little tired from allthe celebrating as they went out in the first round to the Washington Capitals.
Vancouver Canucks (51-22-9) 111 Points
At least the fans didn’t riot after losing in the first round.
Pittsburgh Penguins (51-25-6) 108 Points
The Penguins finished just one point behind the Rangers for the Atlantic Division crown, but suffered an embarrassing 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs.