NHL Playoff Debate: Are the Kings the Best Team in the West Right Now?

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NHL Playoff Debate: Are the Kings the Best Team in the West Right Now?
Harry How/Getty Images

The last time the NHL saw an eighth seed become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender was back in 2006, when the Edmonton Oilers defied expectations and advanced all the way to the finals, only to fall to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Now, seven years later, it appears another eighth seed is poised for a long playoff run. 

The Los Angeles Kings, who were nothing more than average during the regular season, have been as good as any team throughout the 2012 playoffs. And if they can continue to play the way they have over the past several weeks, there's no reason to believe they can't win it all this spring. 

First, L.A. took down the Vancouver Canucks, outplaying the President's Trophy-winners in virtually every facet of the game. Now, they hold a 3-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues in the West semis and are on the verge of their first trip to the conference finals since 1993.

To put that in perspective, Drew Doughty was three years old at the time.

If the Kings do in fact beat the Blues and advance to the third round, they will have defeated the league's two best teams in the regular season, begging the question: Is the most difficult part of their playoff journey already over?

Maybe so. 

Assuming the Kings don't blow a 3-0 lead to St. Louis, the only team standing in their way of the Cup finals will be either Phoenix or Nashville—neither of which are slouches, but neither of which are all that intimidating, either. 

Not compared to the Canucks or Blues, at least. 

Then comes the final test, but if the Kings can dominate No. 1 and 2 seeds in the West in consecutive best-of-seven series, there's no reason to believe they can't take down the likes of New York, Washington, Philadelphia or New Jersey

So, now it's your turn to have a say...

Are the Kings currently the best team in their conference? Can they win it all? 

Discuss in the comments section below. 

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