…and so it has happened.
The Los Angeles Kings have stopped the bleeding and the inconsistency and have clinched a playoff birth.
The month of March was not so kind to the Kings. However, April has brought about better times in Hockeywood, LA.
If there is one team in the Western Conference to fear heading into the NHLs post-season the Los Angeles Kings fit just that mold.
A team that many say are too young or too inexperienced need to look deeper into the foundation of the Kings roster.
Let’s start with the veterans. Michal Handzus, Ryan Smyth, Rob Scuderi, Sean O’Donnell, Justin Williams, Fredrik Modin and Randy Jones all know what it is like to take part in the post season of the NHL.
Of the aforementioned, two have hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup: Rob Scuderi and Justin Williams.
Playoff experience rests within this Kings roster. Head Coach Terry Murray has also been to the playoffs numerous times and also understands the pressure that comes with the post season.
Success lies on the shoulders of one member of this Kings roster and that is netminder Jonathan Quick.
To date, Quick has appeared in 71 games for the Kings posting a record of 39-24-6. He has a .907 save percentage with a 2.53 goals against average this season.
When discussing the playoffs the goaltending of a team becomes the main focus on their ability to advance and just how far they will go.
For the Kings, with the young and inexperienced Quick, the one benefit that could come about will be if the standings stay the way they currently are. The Kings hold the seventh seed in the Western Conference and the San Jose Sharks hold the second seed.
This season the Hockeywood, LA boys split the season series with the Sharks, posting a record of 3-3. However, outside of the “X” factor of Dany Heatley for San Jose, they are pretty much the same team that has failed in the playoffs numerous times this decade. With history on the Kings side, a visit to the second round is likely.
As for the team as a whole, it will be the first for many when the Kings commence their first round playoff series.
Brad Richardson, Scott Parse, Jack Johnson, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Alex Frolov will all be making their first trips to the post season.
Not only anticipating the feeling that will come from the atmosphere of the NHL playoffs, but the excitement level will be on overload.
This is a team that can upset many of the top seeds in the West. For the Kings, they should not fear the Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks or the Phoenix Coyotes. The Chicago Blackhawks are a different animal altogether, so they will be excluded from this discussion. However, if the Kings wind up facing the Hawks in the first round it could strike fear within the team which would cause a disadvantage for LA.
That is the one match-up that the Kings are hoping to avoid.
However, as a dark horse team with the firepower up front that the Kings have, even defeating the Hawks is not an impossible scenario.
The Kings have scored 236 goals to date. That is good for seventh best in the league in offensive production.
They have 11 players in double digit numbers for goals scored. Three of the 11 have 20 goals or more and two others have 19. In looking at those stats, it provides the Kings with an advantage – the simple fact that this team can score goals, especially when it comes to crunch time.
If the stars align the Kings can make their way into the conference finals. A road that will not be easy to skate down, but one that has a positive path.
A quote from Rob Scuderi on Dustin Browns black eye:
“It starts to get a little better, someone’s going to have to sucker him to keep it going.”
About the Author: Anthony Curatolo is a 31 y/o New Yorker with a passion for the game that takes him into a different category then the regular run of the mill fan. He has an intense, creative, witty style that will either have you love him or hate him within the first paragraph you read from one of his writings. Growing up in a hockey world (his father was raised in Montreal, and his father brought that passion with him into the States) was a blessing in disguise for Anthony. Hockey has become more then a passion and infatuation for, and he hopes to one day have a career within the sport. Picked up originally by the Checking Line (from guest blogs written for HockeyBuzz), Anthony began blogging on a daily basis. When his original site, the checking line, went down the writing passion started to fall off. A few years later, Crash the Crease was born and Anthony was approached and asked to write for them. Since that time (August '08), Anthony has become a panel member on the websites Sunday talk show, as well as branching off and forming 1/3 of the talk show team called "The Hockey Guys!" Now Anthony takes his mind and his writings to the next level as he begins his journey with Hockey Independent and asks that there are many that join him. The Kings are the team, the style is Independent and the game is Hockey - there is nothing better in the universe. Although his pride bleeds for the Orange and Black (yes folks, the Philadelphia Flyers) Anthony is also a FAN of the game, and has knowledge for all 30 teams within the league coming from his true, pure love for the sport in it's entirety. As a voice of a fan for the fans (as we all know is the "Crash the Crease" and "The Hockey Guys" slogans) there will be debate, controversy, praise and love all combined into one giant thing - blogs by Anthony.