The Kings are playing quite well for the 8th seed in the West. They toppled the 1st seed Vancouver Canucks, who just won their second straight President’s Trophy. I know it’s just 1 game into the 2nd round against the 2nd best team in the West (and league, really) but the Kings Game 1 road victory poses some questions. How is this 8th seed so good? I know it’s not the first time an 8th seed has performed well. In 2006, the 8th seeded Oilers got within 1 game of lifting the Cup. However, what is it about these Kings that makes them such a good 8th seed?
1) Misleading Record. The Kings play during the regular season was inconsistent and often just poor. However, they peaked at the right time, heading into the playoffs. You might look at their record and scratch your head but remember that this is a totally different team from earlier this season.
2) Playoff Potency. This is the 3rd straight year the Kings have made the playoffs, which means experience. On top of that, the Kings have 2 of the things you absolutely need to win a Championship: Strong Defense and Goaltending. They lack in offensive department, or at least they have up until now, yet the 2 factors that can keep a team in the hunt the Kings have. Everybody has heard the saying “Defense Wins Championships”, well I guess we’ll see. The Western Conference has some defensive beasts. The Eastern Conference has some offensive forces. Unstoppable force meets the immovable object?
3) Talent. It’s not that the Kings didn’t have talent all season, it’s just that they were underperforming all season. This isn’t a ragtag bunch of no-names who have fought their way here, this is Kopitar, Brown, Carter, Mike Richards, Doughty, and so on. Dustin Penner should be in that list too and he has come up big in the Playoffs so far.
4) Depth. There was criticism of the Kings depth around trade deadline time when they dealt Jack Johnson. However, the man who has been getting most of JJ’s minutes, Slava Voynov, has been great so far. On offense, the Kings roll 4 lines, which keeps everyone fresh. Everyone has a role and no one has a problem doing that role. This isn’t the type of team that solely relies on one guy to get the job done or needs match ups to sway the balance (a big road advantage).
5) Lack of hype. The Kings play in a HUGE market where hockey gets the shaft. Even though the Los Angeles Hockey fanbase is huge and really strong, the L.A. sport media remains ignorant. Seriously, they used the old Kings logo on the local news the other night. I’ve seen them use the Sacramento Kings logo before! Unfortunately, the lack of TV time for the Kings causes the hype-o-meter to dip. It doesn’t matter that every other teen is rockin’ a Kings hat, outside L.A. no one is the wiser. You take this team with this record and put them in a different town and there would be a lot more recognition of their talents. Los Angeles has three teams using Staples Center for the playoffs this season, and the most shocking is the Clippers, not the Kings.
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney