x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

March of the Los Angeles Kings continues in play-offs

A 11-game win record in the post-season and the Stanley Cup are well within the team's grasp, writes Sam McCaig.

Darryl Sutter is playing down talk that his Los Angeles Kings side are destined for success.
Darryl Sutter is playing down talk that his Los Angeles Kings side are destined for success.

Darryl Sutter scoffed at the "team of destiny" suggestions, but the Los Angeles Kings coach cannot deny his club are on a streak that is approaching unprecedented proportions in the NHL play-offs.

The Kings, who entered the post-season as the No 8 seed in the West, have gone from an opening-round upset of the top-ranked Vancouver Canucks to a Round 2 dismantling of the St Louis Blues to another dominant performance in the Western Conference finals against the overmatched Phoenix Coyotes.

Going into last night's game, Los Angeles had won a record-tying seven successive road play-off games; they have won eight consecutive play-off games; and they are 11-1 in the 2012 post-season.

The only blemish came way back in the first round, more than a month ago on April 18, when they fell 3-1 to Vancouver in Game 4.

No matter. They had won the first three games of the series, and they closed out the Canucks a few days later.

And the Kings have not lost since. People are starting to wonder if they will lose another game at all in these play-offs.

The record for consecutive playoff wins in one post-season is 11, a mark shared by three teams. The Mario Lemieux-led Pittsburgh Penguins won 11 in a row in the 1992 play-offs, as did the Chicago Blackhawks, whose streak came to a sudden stop when they were snuffed out in the Stanley Cup final by Lemieux's mighty Pens.

The Patrick Roy-backed Montreal Canadiens also turned the trick in 1993 (thanks in large part to another record: 10 successive overtime wins) on the way to the storied franchise's last championship.

Nobody is saying this season's Los Angeles Kings are as good as Lemieux's Penguins, who won back-to-back cups, or the Edmonton Oilers dynasty that claimed five championships in seven years. But in this age of parity, when it seems like all 16 play-off teams truly have a chance to win it all, the Kings have been running roughshod over their opponents and are on the verge of eliminating the Nos 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the West in remarkably easy fashion.

For a team that stumbled in the regular season - when goals were tough to come by - the Kings have got hot at the right time, with three lines in a scoring rhythm and goalie Jonathan Quick playing spectacularly.

They are big, fast and physical. They are dedicated defensively. Put it all together, and it looks like a team destined for the Stanley Cup, regardless of their coach's protestations to the contrary.

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