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The Los Angeles Kings entered the 2011-12 season with very high expectations. In fact, most NHL experts pegged them to finish the regular season as the Pacific Division winners over San Jose, Dallas, Phoenix and Anaheim.
To the surprise of many, the Kings started the season poorly, and it eventually cost Terry Murray his head coaching job.
After Murray's departure, General Manager Dean Lombardi built the team to take the next step and compete for the Stanley Cup this year.
After Lombardi hired Darryl Sutter as head coach, the Los Angeles Kings barely made the playoffs, finishing in eighth place ahead of the Calgary Flames.
Surprisingly, the Kings eliminated the Vancouver Canucks in five games during the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In the second round, the Kings took on the St. Louis Blues and swept the second best team from the regular season. Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick performed at the highest level and carried the team to the Western Conference Finals.
As of May 15, the Los Angeles Kings have taken a 2-0 series lead against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Many now believe the Kings are favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
Overall Grade: A+