NHL Playoffs 2012: Los Angeles Kings Are the Team to Beat

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Los Angeles Kings Are the Team to Beat
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Now holding a 2-0 series lead over the St. Louis Blues, the Los Angeles Kings are playing their best hockey of the season. LA scored five goals on Monday night, an almost incomprehensible output considering this team was second-to-last in the NHL in scoring this season. 

The Kings have all the weapons offensively, but until recently they were Mount St. Helen's. They always had the potential to score at will, so what changed to finally blow this volcano sky-high?

Goaltender Jonathan Quick is establishing himself as the best netminder in hockey. Much like Tim Thomas a year ago, Quick is carrying the Kings. Knowing you can afford to take some chances in the offensive zone allows the Kings players to play to their strengths.

Captain Dustin Brown has taken control of his team and made it a point to finish his checks on anyone in his way. He has always been a big hitter and it is getting under the Blues' skin. Scoring four goals in the first period Monday night in St. Louis, the Kings' offense is rolling.

"We got off to a good start. I mean, scoring 30 seconds into a game helps," said Brown, who had three assists. "But we didn't let off the gas at all."

Forward Anze Kopitar notched two goals in the victory, finally getting his scoring going. Arguably the most gifted puck-handler in the NHL, Kopitar finally broke out in Game 2. The Blues were one of the best teams in the league this year and Kopitar knows there is more work to be done. 

`"There's a lot of work left to be done," Kopitar said. "We'll definitely take the position we're in right now, but we all realize they're a good team and they're not going to go away easily."

The series will move to Staples Center on Thursday night for Game 3 and you can expect a crazy-loud crowd. The Blues are a good defensive team, but if the Kings continue meshing offensively, there may not be much St. Louis can do to slow them down.

This team is scary-good on paper, and to think they're just now coming together could mean a Stanley Cup parade in downtown LA.

With Quick in goal, and Brown, Kopitar and the rest of the Kings playing together, LA is my favorite to win the Cup.

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