How the Los Angeles Kings Stay Relevant in the 2015 Playoff Picture

After a roller coaster-like start to the season, the Los Angeles Kings finally look like they've sobered up from their Stanley Cup hangover.

A combination of attrition, relegation and inexcusable behavior off the ice threatened to derail their sixth sequential playoff appearance and chance to repeat, but eight consecutive wins—including Saturday’s pivotal outdoor game against the San Jose Sharks—have the Kings sitting in third place in the Pacific Division with 70 points.

Behind the stellar play of Jonathan Quick, the resurgence of their penalty kill and the formation of "That '70s Line 2.0," Los Angeles is well on its way to the 2015 postseason.

Needless to say, things didn't always look so good for the defending champs.

About two weeks ago, they had four teams sitting between them and a playoff berth. After a lethargic start to the season, they finally hit rock bottom in January, losing six of eight home games and finishing with a 3-4-4 record.

Not exactly championship-caliber, so why the slow start?


According to Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times, the Kings "played 64 playoff games the last three seasons, the most by any NHL team in a three-season span." She also notes the only other teams to come close are the Stars (1997-98 through 1999-2000) and Red Wings (2006-07 through 2008-09) with 63 each.

If you factor in the brevity of Stanley Cup winners’ shortened summers and add the exhaustion of the Olympic Games last year, it’s not hard to decipher why the production has tapered off recently.

That might explain why Anze Kopitar is on pace to score under 20 goals for the first time in his career, or why Mike Richards was sent to waivers in January.

It doesn't, however, excuse the poor judgment on Slava Voynov's part. The 25-year-old Russian Olympi...

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