A kind of yin to that yang was the fact that this squad was far more offensively explosive this spring, averaging 3.38 goals per game. Among the contributors to that new element to this version of the Kings were youngsters Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, who combined for 11 goals and 15 assists, including Toffoli's assist on the overtime winner by Alec Martinez in spite of the fact both spent time in the minors this season.
"Crazy. This year itself has been crazy, but to get the chance and to win it, it's definitely a dream come true," said Pearson.
For much of the regular season, one wondered if the mix would yield these kinds of results as the team settled into the lower half of the Pacific Division standings. But the mix of talented youth and battle-tested veterans proved its mettle this spring.
"It's a blend. You've got to have a special blend," Muzzin explained. "We've got guys that have been around, they've seen it all, done it all, won, lost. It helps with the younger guys coming in giving them advice on what to expect and how to handle it."
You watch the ice at Staples Center, crowded with happy family members and team officials and the media and, of course, the Stanley Cup making its rounds, thousands of Kings fans still in the stands sharing the moment, and you wonder how a team like this gets built. Not just the draft picks, but the identity and the will to be this good against sometimes long odds. Then you see general manager Dean Lombardi making his way to players -- not necessarily the star players, but the young players who never got on the ice during the playoffs or veteran role players such as Jeff Schultz, a defenseman who played in just seven postseason games.
Former NHLer Alyn McCauley is a pro scout with the Kings. He said he remains amazed at the constant ability of this team to find another level of compete, another level of will to push forward.
"But it always felt like these guys just had such a belief in each other," McCauley told ESPN.com.
Martinez scored with 5:17 left in the second overtime to give the Kings the victory. He insisted he "blacked out" from joy.
"I tossed my gear, the guys jumped in and I couldn't breathe for a while. It's a surreal moment," Martinez said.
For Brown, the captain who endured an up-and-down season but who was once again a force in the playoffs, this playoff year was especially rewarding.
"It was the most challenging, rewarding season all in one," Brown said.
He credits his teammates for providing the opportunity to have it end as it did two years ago, with a celebration on home ice.
"The first one, I think we took a lot of people by surprise," he said. "This one, I mean, everyone knows we're a good team and we had to battle through. If you don't have that special bond together, we're not sitting here celebrating."