NHL Playoffs 2012: Simply Securing Postseason Spot Not Enough for L.A. Kings

Josh Martin@@JoshMartinNBANBA Lead WriterApril 6, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 28:  (L-R) Anze Kopitar #11, Ryan Smyth #94, Dustin Brown #23 and Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate Smyth's first period goal against the Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center on September 28, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings can rejoice...sort of.

The team will skate into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third time in as many seasons, thanks to the Nashville Predators nailing down a 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

It's a noteworthy accomplishment for a squad that's struggled to score goals, win home games at the Staples Center all season and underwent a seismic shift on the coaching staff along the way.

It's a testament to the sensational efforts of Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier in the net and the perseverance of an injury-plagued.

But it's not enough for the Kings to simply get to the dance, not after GM Dean Lombardi engineered blockbuster trades before and during the season to put this team in position to compete for the Cup.

Not after getting knocked out of the race in the first round during each of the last two postseasons.

Not after building a presumed contender around the likes of Quick, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty.

Not when the Kings haven't won a playoff series since 2001 and haven't truly been relevant since Wayne Gretzky last suited up in purple during the early 1990s.

That's not to say that it's "Cup or Bust" for L.A., or that the Kings can even count themselves among the favorites to hoist Lord Stanley's trophy when all is said and done. The Western Conference is stacked with quality clubs (i.e. the Vancouver Canucks, the St. Louis Blues, the Detroit Red Wings, the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks).

However, the Kings have compiled a respectable 13-8 record against those foes and just so happen to be playing some of their best hockey of the season down the stretch.

As a result, Los Angeles is hitting their stride at the perfect time and may well enter the playoffs as division champions for just the second time in franchise history.

And, while taking the Pacific (and the home-ice advantage that comes with it) would be a nice touch for the Kings, what's more important is whether or not they do anything with that crown. Few in L.A. will care if the ultimate result is the same as its been before.

With Quick in goal and a bruising blue line in front of him, the Kings should be able to flip the script, at least to some extent.

Only then can the Kings and their long-suffering fans truly indulge in the sort of revelry they've sought for so long.



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