Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ranford Compares Today's Kings To 88 Oilers

Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford lived through history in 1988 as the Edmonton Oilers' 21-year-old backup goalie; he just didn't know about it until Tuesday afternoon.

"You know what, until you told me I didn't even realize we did (go 16-2 in the 1988 Stanley Cup Playoffs)," Ranford told "I was so caught up in everything that was going on that you're just so happy to win the Stanley Cup, you don't even know. I did not realize it. That tells you it's about one thing, and that's winning the Cup; it doesn't matter how many games it takes. Winning 16 is all that matters."

It took only 18 games for that '88 Oilers team to win the Cup. They are still the only team in the 25 years since the NHL established the best-of-seven format in all four rounds to need so few games to do it.

The Kings have an opportunity Wednesday at Staples Center to be the next team to do it. And, yes, Ranford is very much aware that they are 15-2 in the playoffs so far.

"The media aspect of things is a little bit different than it was back in '88," said a laughing Ranford, whose current job is to be the coach that keeps Conn Smythe favorite Jonathan Quick on the straight and narrow. "I think that's just how much things have changed. Back then you basically just had access to the papers and you were told not to read the papers. You were basically in your own little cocoon of what is going on and you worried about yourself."

Ranford never got into a playoff game in 1988, when the Oilers roared through Winnipeg in five, Calgary in four, Detroit in five and then Boston in four to win the Cup. Now he's only on the ice in practice, working to keep Quick fresh, loose, and on his game so he could get through Vancouver in five, St. Louis in four, Phoenix in five and potentially New Jersey in four.

Despite not playing in either run, and not even realizing the Oilers made history 24 years ago, Ranford's appreciation for what the 1988 Oilers accomplished and what the 2012 Kings are on the verge of accomplishing is on par -- with one slight difference.

"Maybe it's better now because nobody expected this team to be here," Ranford said. "When you knock off the one, two and three seeds and then you're in the Stanley Cup Final, it's never been done before and I don't think anybody expected that from this team, especially with how we kind of limped into the playoffs."

Asked to recall how he was feeling as the Oilers raced to the Cup in 1988, Ranford said it's similar to how he's feeling now about the Kings.

"Yeah, even when you lose a game you aren't worried about the next one," he said. "I think it's just because the team becomes focused and all you're thinking about is hockey 24/7 and all you focus on is winning the next hockey game."

He doesn't believe it's even close to being fair to compare the '88 Oilers and the '12 Kings.

"There were five Hall of Famers on that (Oilers) team," Ranford said. "They had won three Cups up to that point."

Ranford, though, said it is fair to compare the runs both teams went on.

"The thing you learn about that is the fourth game to win in every series is the toughest and you can only take it one game at a time," he said. "We've done a really good job of that here, and the team in '88 had the same approach. They had the experience of being there before and realized how tough it is."

However, just like those Oilers, these Kings are making it look easy. Ranford knows it's not, but that's what makes going 16-2 so remarkable.

"I never would have thought it could happen again," Ranford said.


No comments: