Los Angeles Hockey: Justin Wiliams
May, 2, 2012
By Dan Arritt | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Rich Lam/Getty ImagesDustin Penner's resurgence has been one of many reasons the Kings find themselves where they are.
EL SEGUNDO -- Forget trying to put a finger on what turned this season around. You won't have enough hands.
One of the favorites to finish high in the Western Conference standings coming into the season, with a roster full of skill, youth and experience, the Los Angeles Kings were underachievers almost from the start.
Well, except for goalie Jonathan Quick.
They fired coach Terry Murray in mid-December, during a stretch in which they didn’t score more than two goals in any of 14 straight games, and brought in a more leathery figure in Darryl Sutter.
He got the Kings to stand up straight all right, but still couldn’t coax the players to put the puck in the net. Over the next two months, the offense continued to languish at the bottom of the league in scoring, averaging little more than two goals a game.
Just as the trade deadline came and went in late February, the Kings suddenly turned a corner, finishing 13-5-3 and averaging just over three goals a game to sneak into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. Not what many envisioned coming into the season, but part of the postseason, nonetheless.
They hit the reset button and came out motivated, healthy and ready for the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks, won the first two games in Vancouver and upset the President Trophy winners in five games.