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Gauging Kings’ chances for a Cinderella run

Apr 16, 2012, 2:00 AM EDT

cinderellakingsgetty Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings are one win away from sweeping the Vancouver Canucks, which would make them the third team to do so to the Presidents’ Trophy winner. It’s not as if the Canucks are rolling over, either; they just haven’t had much luck cracking the Kings’ code. Even a 3-0 series lead isn’t a guarantee for future success, but it’s irresistible not to at least ponder Los Angeles’ chances of making a deep playoff run.

So, with that in mind, here are some big reasons why they can do it and one big reason why they might not.

No juggernaut

Looking up at the higher seeds, you can’t blame the Kings for not feeling too intimidated. The St. Louis Blues got back into their series with the San Jose Sharks, yet Los Angeles brings virtually the same strengths to the table as the Blues. It’s unlikely that Los Angeles would be all that intimidated by the thought of facing the Phoenix Coyotes in the semifinals, either; in fact, the biggest worries could come if they face either the Nashville Predators or the Detroit Red Wings.

Jonathan Quick

Depending upon whom you ask, Quick may just hold the trump card over every West goalie not named Pekka Rinne. As you’ve probably heard a lot of times in your hockey-loving life, a hot netminder can make all the difference.

Strong defense

The Predators, Blues and Coyotes could manage a strong counterargument, but the Kings have a defense that can stack up with any in the NHL. That’s especially true now that Drew Doughty is back to the form that made him the most promising young defenseman in ages. Beyond Doughty, Los Angeles has solid lesser-known offensive defensemen such as Slava Voynov and strong stay-at-home types like Willie Mitchell. There aren’t many soft spots in that lineup.

Improved offense

The Kings aren’t likely to blow many teams out, but the Jeff Carter trade gives their offense a respectable added dimension. It’s not just the Anze Kopitar line doing all the work now, as Carter, Mike Richards and Dustin Brown can pitch in. On paper, that offense probably edges out the defense-first groups like Phoenix, St. Louis and Nashville – though that doesn’t mean it actually will work out that way.

A Sutter edge

The Kings hold some interesting similarities to the Flames team that Darryl Sutter pushed to within one win of a Stanley Cup. There’s more talent in Los Angeles, but both squads fought their way into lower seeds and then combined timely scoring, tight defense and great goaltending to become an imposing upset force. Sutter the coach > Sutter the GM, as we’ve seen quite clearly.

The glass half-empty approach

Still, the Kings aren’t perfect. The No. 1 area of concern is still scoring. Los Angeles only seems to have a “grind it out” gear, which could bog them down in the long run. Fighting tooth-and-nail is fine in the playoffs, but every now and then, it’s nice to score some “easy” goals. Depending upon matchups, offense may still be the Kings’ fatal flaw.

***

Sure, it won’t be pretty, but it seems like the Kings might just have the makeup for a deep run. What do you think of their chances?

  1. bcisleman - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:05 AM

    Don’t think they get past the 2nd round. CBJ fans certainly are hoping they don’t!

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    I hate to simplify to much, but it really depends on Quick. If he keeps playing this well then he will give them a chance to win. If the rest of the team takes advantage of that they could make a very deep run.

    • mcmurphy22 - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:27 AM

      Agreed, it’s all on JQ.

  3. thehighcountrybear - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:40 AM

    The deadly hot goalie has emptied dynasties forever! Quick is zoned-in and Canucks are zoned- out by the tenacious back-checking game Daryl brings to LA. But steady-on all the same…all this talk about Cinderella might get two, maybe three Canucks all hot and sweaty at the very thought of glass slippers and tiaras…?

  4. highlander24 - Apr 16, 2012 at 4:23 AM

    WE CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO KINGS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. florida727 - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    I just don’t get it with hockey playoffs compared to the regular season. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the game of hockey. Of all sports, it’s BY FAR my favorite to watch. But you’ve never seen a #16 seed beat a #1 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. You rarely have ever seen an 8 seed beat a 1 seed in the NBA playoffs. Now we’re, theoretically, one night away from BOTH #1 seeds being eliminated. And the thing that gets me most is that it’s not a one-game thing. You have to win FOUR to eliminate the other guy. Guess that’s why it’s the most entertaining sport to watch. You just never know. (BTW, Blackhawks fan, grew up in Chicago, now live in Florida, hence the screen name.)

  6. orangeandblack28 - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    The Flyers will be waiting and they will crush the kings.

    • mercyflush - Apr 16, 2012 at 9:11 AM

      Flyers road is definitely tougher than the Kings, IMO, and Bryz would be getting killed by the media and us Flyers’ fans if the Flyers weren’t playing such a terrible team in the first round.

      The Bruins and (especially) the Rangers have had the Flyers number recently, and both have better goaltending than the Flyers. If they make it to the Finals it’ll be because Bryz pulls the Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde thing again.

      That said, how crazy would a Kings-Flyers Finals be? Talk about awesome story lines. Would Richards get booed?? He was a fan favorite here.

      (that was rhetorical. yes, of course he gets booed).

      • orangeandblack28 - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:55 PM

        It would be such an awkward series it both the kings and Flyers make it there. Of course richie would get booed even though he played his heart out two years ago during the cup run.

    • oside760 - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      id be much more worried to play the penguins homie

      • orangeandblack28 - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        We’re up three games and are dominating in every possible way, Pittsburgh has no chance to win even one game. The so called “best team” will be swept on Wednesday night.

  7. islandersfan - Apr 16, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    “Depending upon whom you ask, Quick may just hold the trump card over every West goalie not named Pekka Rinne. As you’ve probably heard a lot of times in your hockey-loving life, a hot netminder can make all the difference.”

    Personally – he’s tied with Lundqvist as the best goalie in league, and right now Quick is on fire. I’d take him as my goalie any time anywhere against anyone

  8. tarotsujimoto74 - Apr 16, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    So far, it seems like they’re relying too much on Quick and Brown. I believe quick can keep his great form going, but the Kings’ other top forwards need to step it up if they want to go far.

  9. oside760 - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    “What do you think of their chances?”………………. i think everyone better watch out, cause this is LA’s time

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