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Kings know power play has to improve

LOS ANGELES -- There's no doubt the NHL is a copycat league, but just because the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup without a power play a year ago doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the way to go.

"No, definitely not," Kings winger Jeff Carter said Tuesday morning, after the pregame skate. "In this day and age, it’s a huge part of the game. It’s pretty tough to win the whole thing without your power play going."

The Kings are 15th on the power play out of the 16 playoff teams, with a woeful 8.6 percent success rate thanks to six goals on 70 chances. L.A.'s two power-play goals in the Phoenix series have come on two-man advantages.

A year ago, the Bruins won the Cup despite an 11.4 percent power play (10 goals on 88 chances over four rounds). Boston coach Claude Julien had to answer questions about it every day until it became a moot point with the Stanley Cup in his hands.

Like those Bruins, the Kings have been outstanding on the penalty kill -- L.A. is tops in the playoffs with a 92.2 success rate -- and are second only to New Jersey in the 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio.

"Our penalty killing has been pretty good throughout the year, too," star center Anze Kopitar said. "We took it to another level in the playoffs. That’s what you got to do. We wouldn’t win as many games as we did if our PK wasn’t as good. And we got to continue doing that."

Still, getting the odd power-play goal would be nice.

"I think we’ve been doing some good things on there, it’s just a matter of bearing down and getting the puck in the back of the net," Carter said. "Phoenix blocks a lot of shots, those guys out there really sacrifice, we’re going to have to figure it out. We need to be better at maybe making a move here and there and getting pucks to the net."

Kopitar concurs.

"Sometimes it comes down to special teams and we certainly understand that our power play has to be better," he said. "In saying that, we have quite a bit of zone time; we just can’t connect and score goals. We've got to work on that, simplify it a little bit, and get more shots."

My opinion is that the Kings are too stationary on the power play, allowing penalty killers easier looks to block passing and shooting lanes.

"I think we’re getting looks, we’re getting zone time, we've just got to get the screen or the tip or the rebound goal out of it," coach Darryl Sutter said.

Another big factor, as cliche as it sounds, is the first goal. The Coyotes and Kings are a combined 14-3 in the playoffs (Phoenix 7-2, L.A. 7-1) when scoring first. That plays larger and larger later in series as the stakes get higher.

"The NHL is really about the first goal," Sutter said. "When you get veteran coaches and experienced coaching staffs, and teams that have played together and are still playing, what they’ve done really well is play with leads. That’s why they’re still playing. It’s important. Neither team scores a lot of goals. They’re close games. So the first goal is important."

The first goal seems to put everyone at ease for the team that scores it.

"I think it just calms [everyone] down to a certain degree, so they know we’re doing things right, things are going your way," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "I think confidence is everything in the playoffs just because everyone is so, so close. With everyone being that close, feeling confident is big."