Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, left front, celebrates with his teammates… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Alec Martinez was on the business end of Jack Ferreira's sense of humor recently.
"Three times during the Western Conference Final, he broke his stick in the exact same spot trying to get off a one-timer," said Ferreira, special assistant to Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi. "I said something to him about it after a game and he said, 'You think it's I spend too much time in the weight room?'"
Martinez, the Kings' 24-year-old defenseman, offered yet another tongue-and-cheek excuse, saying, "Blame it on Easton, not me."
Well, a little weight-room work and an Easton stick had Martinez answering a lot of questions after a 4-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Staples Center on Monday.
He crashed the net after teammates Dwight King and Trevor Lewis had done the prep work. Martinez poked and prodded with his stick and was able to muscle the puck past goaltender Martin Brodeur to break a scoreless tie.
The second-period period goal was a money-moment that left the Kings tantalizingly close to making good on a 45-year-old IOU. One more victory Wednesday and they take home the Stanley Cup.
Wayne Gretzky couldn't pull that off, nor Marcel Dionne. Rogie Vachon didn't get the Kings the title, and neither did Jeremy Roenick. Owners Jack Kent Cooke and Jerry Buss won NBA titles as Lakers, but were unable to attain the Cup as a bookend trophy while holding the deed on the Kings.
Names like Martinez, King and Lewis may end up as franchise footnotes, but they also could get etched on the Cup.
"We put in a lot of work the last two months," King said."We've come this close."
The three did a little blue-collar work inside the blue line to get the Kings closer.
Lewis did some gritty work along the boards and got the puck to King, who flicked a shot that Brodeur handled. Then things got debatable. King went to the net and continued to whack at the puck. Martinez joined in and pushed home his first playoff goal.
"I don't know if you saw my face, but I was pretty excited," Martinez said.
Brodeur was excited as well, though hardly in the nice-work-there-boys way. He pulled his mask off and barked at referees. Devils Coach Peter DeBoer sided with his goaltender.
"That's a momentum-changing call at the time," DeBoer said. "That's an awful big call if you're wrong. I mean, my opinion on it, as soon as you lose sight of the puck, the whistle's supposed to go. Even if you don't get it to your mouth, your intent is to blow it when you lose sight. It should be a dead puck. I'd like to hear an explanation for it."
King had one, saying: "I guess he thought he had it covered. He obviously didn't. I could see puck whole time."
As could Martinez.
"I saw it kind of laying there and tried to take a whack at it, maybe two," Martinez said.
And had the strength and stick to whack it in.