EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The obvious knock on the Los Angeles Kings for most of the season was that they were stellar defensively to stay in games, but didn't have enough offense to close it out a victory.
Even after Darryl Sutter was hired on Dec.21, the Kings struggled to score for two months. However, they still managed to go 25-13-11 under Sutter.
That last number is telling. Los Angeles played in 24 overtime or shootout games in the regular season, tied with the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks for the second-most in the League. The Kings also played in 46 one-goal games (the New Jersey Devils played in 37). L.A. is 6-0 in one-goal playoff games, while New Jersey is 6-4.
So did the experience from playing in all those close games carry over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where the Kings are 4-0 in overtime games?
"It would be interesting to see how many one-goal games we've played the last three years," Dustin Brown said.
That's a reflection of former coach Terry Murray, who was instrumental in molding the Kings into the defense-first team that is the foundation of this edition's juggernaut. L.A.'s lack of offense got him fired, though, and Sutter made them more aggressive without compromising that defense.
It also helps to have a unique mix of veterans and young stars, too.
"It's part of the makeup of our team and how we play," Brown said. "I think we're definitely comfortable in tight games, and that's due to some guys having a lot of big game experience and some guys playing here the last few years have been in a lot of those situations."