It looks like they may finally be coming around. The reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings seem to be hitting stride. When they beat the Calgary Flames 3-1 on Wednesday, Feb 20, it was their fourth win in the last five games. Some would argue that the four wins are not truly legit. After all, they beat a slumping St Louis team, and then three of the worst teams in the Conference; Columbus, Edmonton, and Calgary. Their lone loss was to Chicago, which was the only strong team of the five. The counterpoint would be that in all their wins, they limited the opposition to only one goal, and though they did give up three goals in the 3-2 loss to the Blackhawks, they did not allow any goals after the first 21 mins of play. Of course, only time will tell.
They have outscored opponents by a combined total of 14-7 over the last five games.
The other important thing to remember, is the team has had to adjust to the loss of first two (Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene), and now three (Alec Martinez) of their top six defensemen from last season's Cup-winning squad. As a result, the forwards have had to adjust their style of play just a bit in order to counteract any possible liabilities on the blueline. They do now seem to have the proper balance between a good structured attack, and being defensively responsible. The replacement blueliners, Keaton Ellerby, Davis Drewiske, and Jake Muzzin are beginning to settle in as well.
There were also a few players who clearly were somewhat lacking in physical conditioning when the season began. That issue has now become a thing of the past.
There is no reason to hit the panic button. The team is 15 games into this truncated 48 game season. At this moment, they are only one point out of the eighth playoff spot, and have a game in hand on the eighth place Dallas Stars. The Kings got through a rough start, and are still well in playoff contention and there is still plenty of hockey to be played.
Backup goalie Jonathan Bernier has allowed just one goal in each of his last three starts, and it never hurts to have two strong netminders. No need to worry about Jonathan Quick, we know what he is capable of.
Coach Darryl Sutter has shuffled lines in most games during the last few weeks, looking for that particular spark. The Wednesday game against Calgary was the first game in quite a while, in which the set forward lines stayed together for the entire game. Sutter has said his philosophy is to focus on keeping pairs of players together, rather than entire lines intact.
The Kings overall record is now 7-6-2 (10th place in Western conference).
The team will continues it's "Legends night" series on Saturday, when they will honor former King Ian LaPerriere, prior to the game. Gametime for Saturday is 1:00 pm PT. All fans in attendance will receive a commemorative Ian Laperriere puck.
It will be nice to see "Lappy" back at Staples Center again. The ovation should be huge.
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