The last Western Division team to make the NHL playoffs skated off with the Stanley Cup this year but the league is yet to return to the ice due to a lockout.
The Los Angeles Kings were the No. 8-seeded team in the NHL Western Conference but dropped just four games over four playoff series in winning their first Stanley Cup. They were the second eighth-seed team to reach the finals and the first to win the title.
The Kings eliminated Vancouver, the Presidents' Trophy winner as the team with the most points in the standings, in five games before taking out No. 2-seed St. Louis in four and third-seeded Phoenix in five to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for a second time.
Los Angeles then waited for a finals opponent, which turned out to be the New Jersey Devils, who were 4-2 winners in the best-of-seven conference finals against Eastern Conference top seed New York Rangers.
The Kings claimed a pair of 2-1 overtime wins in New Jersey -- setting an NHL record with 10 consecutive road playoff wins in a season -- and won Game 3 4-0. The Devils, overachievers themselves since they were the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, won the next two games. But the Kings piled up three goals during the on-ice advantage in a first-period major penalty and cruised to a 6-1 win in Game 6 to collect the Stanley Cup championship.
In addition to knocking off the Rangers, New Jersey won playoffs series against Florida and Philadelphia.
Three months later, NHL team owners locked out the players in a dispute mostly centered on allocation of revenues. The most recent collective bargaining agreement gave players 57 percent of revenues; owners sought to cut that to about 46 percent. Other issues included extending the time before a player could be an unrestricted free agent from seven years to 10 seasons in the NHL and a limit of five years on future contracts.
By year-end, the sides were still wide apart. Negotiations occurred sporadically with neither side saying progress was being made.
The league canceled games a couple of weeks at a time and by December had lost more than 40 percent of the regular season. The Winter Classic -- in which Toronto and Detroit were to play Jan. 1 in the 107,501-seat Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. -- and the All-Star weekend scheduled for late January in Columbus, Ohio, were also called off.
On the ice for the 2011-12 season, Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, who scored 50 goals and totaled 109 points, won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's top scorer. Steven Stamkos, from Tampa Bay, won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer. He had 60 goals last season.
Malkin also was voted the Hart Memorial Trophy as the season's Most Valuable Player. Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick took the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs' Most Valuable Player.
Florida's Brian Campbell was awarded the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (given for sportsmanship and excellence) while Montreal's Max Pacioretty won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication) and Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson took home the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (leadership and humanitarian contribution).
Boston College defeated Ferris State 4-1 in finals of the NCAA Division I Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla. It was the fifth national championship for the Eagles, who have won three times since 2008.
Boston College, No. 5 in pre-season polls, entered the final tournament as the No. 1 seed with a 29-10-1 record. The Eagles allowed just two goals over their four games in the championship tournament.
In addition to Ferris State, which was 23-11-5 and seeded second in the Midwest Regional, other Frozen Four semifinalists were East No. 1 seed Union and West top seed North Dakota.
Minnesota-Duluth center Jack Connolly was voted the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the NCAA top men's ice hockey player.
Minnesota topped Wisconsin 4-2 for the women's ice hockey championship. Wisconsin forward Brianna Decker took the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top women's ice hockey player.
|Additional Sports News Stories|