Los Angeles Kings: 3 Reasons They're Dark-Horse Stanley Cup Contenders

Jason LewisCorrespondent IIApril 23, 2012

Los Angeles Kings: 3 Reasons They're Dark-Horse Stanley Cup Contenders

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    The Kings have already put one series behind them: A 4-1 battle against the No. 1 seed and Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks.

    But the road gets no less treacherous from here on out. Next, they face the best defensive team in hockey, the St. Louis Blues. They will also be the road team from here on out regardless of the series (since the Kings are the lowest seed).

    But at the same time, even though they are the eighth seed, people are now realizing this is a team not to be taken lightly. And in many aspects, they have everything that makes a team formidable in the playoffs.

    If you are on the fence on whether or not you feel the Kings are a true dark horse team to win it all, here are a few points to consider.

Defensive Zone-Goaltending Tandem

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    It's too easy to give each of these their own separate slide and then call two-thirds of this slide show done.

    But no, it's not just the Kings' goaltending and defense separate that give them a real shot, it's the two together. It's the mentality, and the cohesive relationship the Kings goaltenders, defensemen and forwards share.

    The Kings are a stingy and frustrating team to play against because everyone buys in to the defensive scheme. We've already seen them shut down one of the best offenses in the league, and they definitely could continue to move forward this postseason if they stick to that scheme.

    And when you do get a chance, or there is a breakdown in the defense, Jonathan Quick awaits. No big deal right?

Experience

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    What people don't realize about the Kings, is that they have a wealth of playoff experience up and down their roster.

    Colin Fraser, Justin Williams, Rob Scuderi and Dustin Penner have all won Cups, Mitchell, Richards and Carter have 50-plus games of playoff experience, and Stoll and Greene each bring 30-plus games.

    This is a roster with no strangers to every feeling of the postseason experience: Game 7 losses, Game 7 wins, overtime clinchers and 3-1 series deficits.

    With so many young players on the Kings roster, it's important that they have so many players they can turn to to calm the locker room.

    It's also nice that behind the bench they have long time coach, and Stanley Cup finalist with the Calgary Flames, Darryl Sutter. 

Road Warriors

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    This season, the Kings were great on the road. They held an 18-13-10 record on the road during the regular season, and had a plus-eight goal differential.

    That trend has carried on into the postseason where the Kings, for the first time in history, took all three home games played by the No. 1 seed in the first round.

    They were also responsible for one of just six home losses the St. Louis Blues, the best home team in hockey, had this season.

    It's a good thing the Kings seem to do well on the road, because they will be the road team first in every series from here on out. And if they can take even one of the first two games in the series, it's a huge momentum shift going back home.

    They say it isn't a playoff series until someone loses at home, and the Kings are very capable of starting a series very early on.