Last season, I wrote that the Kings were on the cusp of announcing their presence with authority after four seasons of stockpiling young talent. I also wrote that despite all that talent, they were going to miss out on the playoffs.
O.K., one out of two isn't bad.
The Kings took a huge step forward in their development as a Stanley Cup-contending franchise, earning 101 points in 2009-10, breaking the century mark for the first time since 1990-91. (Coincidentally, that was also the last time they won 46 games, tying a franchise record.) And they did it through consistency.
For the first time in six seasons, the Kings made the playoffs. They squared off against the Vancouver Canucks for a spirited series, before losing in six games.
After stealing Game 2 in Vancouver, the Kings came back to Staples and took it to the Canucks to take Game 3. After leading 3-2 heading into the third period, the experience of the Canucks proved to be the difference, securing Game 4 with four goals in the third. That loss sent the Kings reeling, and they lost the next two and were eliminated from the playoffs.
But that loss gave the Kings the inspiration they needed to take that next step. And heading into this preseason, expectations are high for this young club, on themselves and by the media. Last year, Vegas had the Kings 80-1 to win the Stanley Cup. This year, I heard "someone" got 10-1 at the MGM Grand.
The Kings are finally starting to pay the dividends of Dean Lombardi's long-awaited restructuring plan. The team is deep in prospects at every position, and there's a solid core heading into the season.
Speaking of Lombardi's plan, the old adage is you build a championship team from the goal out. And it can be argued that Lombardi and the Kings have followed that to a tee.
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Life In Hockeywood is a blog about the Los Angeles Kings, covering hockey in the Southland since 2005. With news, video and a weekly podcast, Life In Hockeywood provides Kings fans exclusive coverage the entire year.