LA Kings Can Get Past Vancouver Canucks If They Put It All Together

LOS ANGELES — Quit pinching yourself, Los Angeles hockey fans. You are not dreaming.

Yes, the Los Angeles Kings have made the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and for just the fifth time since 1993, when the Wayne Gretzky-led Kings went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Like that 1992-93 team, this year’s Kings started the regular season hot. But unlike the 1992-93 team, which peaked at just the right time, this season’s Kings have struggled since the Olympic break and are not going into the post-season playing their best hockey.

Earning a 9-7-5 record since the break, the Kings were often plagued by slow starts, poor puck support, a non-existent forecheck, taking too many penalties, shaky goaltending, a lack of get the idea.

In the last handful of games of the regular season, the Kings showed some improvement, but were unable to put it all together consistently. Indeed, if they got off to a good start, their puck support and forechecking was lacking. Or, when those aspects of their game were solid, they failed to get to the front of the net and get the puck there as well.

A prime example of that came on April 10, when the Kings poured 55 shots on backup goalie Devan Dubnyk, but lost to the worst-in-the-league Edmonton Oilers, 2-1, in a shootout.

“[Dubnyk was] real good, but I felt, and we talked about it between periods and on the bench, he saw a lot of pucks coming from the blue line,” head coach Terry Murray said. “We were doing a great job with our cycle, possession, low to high, getting shots through from the top end. But we didn’t have the traffic. There was a loose puck there on almost every shot that came to the net and we were not in position to put second and third opportunities to the net. That was really the story of the game.”

“Anybody playing goal in the NHL who sees the puck from the blue li...

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