Goal-scoring was the Achilles heel of the Los Angeles Kings all season. It's what got head coach Terry Murray fired, and it's what caused the team, expected by so many to be a strong contender in the Western Conference, to flirt with missing the postseason.
The Kings were one of the best post-deadline teams in the NHL, however, quickly turning up the scoring and ultimately going on a run that led them to the No. 8 seed in the conference. Their first-round matchup against the Vancouver Canucks will not be an easy one, but with a healthy Jeff Carter in the fold and a phenomenal Jonathan Quick between the pipes, Los Angeles has their eyes on an upset and more.
We asked Niesy of Kings blog Jewels From The Crown a few questions about the team as they head into the postseason.
1) What's the biggest reason you have confidence in the Kings heading into the postseason?
Everyone knows they couldn't score earlier in the year. But the changes made over the course of the season have allowed them to control more of the play at a consistently high rate. This has also resulted in higher scoring. It was great to see them kick into another gear after the deadline.
2) What's the biggest question mark surrounding the Kings heading into the playoffs?
Whether this young team can stay focused and controlled. When they're on, they can smother.
3) If there's one player on the Kings that will have a breakout playoff campaign, who will it be?
It'll have to be Jonathan Quick. He needs to shine under pressure, and expectations are higher than ever.
4) When all's said and done, the Kings' playoff chances hinge on ...
Like many teams, I imagine, having their key players stay healthy. Kopitar was sorely missed last year, and their second-leading scorer played in a harness. Carter's about to return, but a few others are a little banged up already. It was a tough fight down the stretch.
5) Give a prediction. How far will Los Angeles go in these Stanley Cup Playoffs?
As far as their (hopefully healthy) ankles can carry them!