Often times during the course of an evenly-matched playoff series, you can define one pivotal turning point that sets one team above the other. One momentum clincher that unleashes the hounds. More often than not, it comes from a mistake. And most commonly, physical play is involved.
The last two Stanley Cups have been defined by such events.
In last year's edition of the finals, it was a cheap hit by Vancouver's Aaron Rome on Boston's Nathan Horton that spawned Vancouver's demise. Boston would outscore Vancouver 21-4 for the remainder of that series after dropping the first two games, incidentally winning in Game 7. The defining moment in this year's finals was eerily similar. Regardless of how the previous five games had gone, the New Jersey Devils were just two wins away from Stanley Cup glory and making history...
But as the Kings absolutely dominated the Devils early in Game 6, while Marty Brodeur was doing everything he could to maintain a clean sheet, the following sequence transpired 10 minutes into the first period with the score still tied at zero:
Steve Bernier crushed Rob Scuderi's head into the boards, leaving him dazed and bloodied. This happened only moments after Jarret Stoll's hit from behind on Steven Gionta was was left uncalled.
Devils fans were befuddled.
Hockey fans across the country could smell what was about to happen.
The Kings scored three times during the subsequent 5-minute major penalty on goals from captain Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Trevor Lewis.
And there was no looking back.
The Kings have completed what will go down as the most remarkable playoff run in Stanley Cup history. 16 - 4, 10 - 1 on the road. Knocking off the 1, 2 and 3 seeds as an 8 seed. Their franchise's first Stanley Cup Championship in its 45-year history.
But Steve Bernier's hit on Rob Scuderi will forever be the story of Game 6.
Congrats to the Kings, their fans and everyone at their organization.