By Doug Ward | Special to LAKings.com
By the spring of 1998, the Kings found their way back to the playoffs. Rob Blake became the first King to win the Norris Trophy, but it wasn’t enough to keep St. Louis from sweeping the Kings out of the first round of the playoffs. A year later, the Kings closed out the 20th Century by missing out on the playoffs.THE STAPLES CENTER ERA
The Kings said goodbye to the Forum in Inglewood in a raucous 8-1 exhibition game win over the Mighty Ducks on Sept, 20, 1999, then moved downtown to the futuristic STAPLES Center for the 1999-2000 season. In their inaugural campaign in the state-of-the-art facility, the Kings met the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
A year later, the Kings’ second campaign at STAPLES would culminate with an upset win over the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. In one of the most dramatic series in franchise history, the Kings dropped the first two games in Motown to fall in a 2-0 hole before rallying to win four straight. The series turnaround was highlighted by overcoming a 3-0 third period deficit in Game 4 to force overtime.
“Nothing was going on,” Miller recalled. “I never got the feeling anything was going to happen, then all of a sudden the Kings scored three goals in the final 5:15. Then Eric Belanger won it overtime. It was the first time STAPLES Center really went crazy.”
Belanger’s overtime goal capped one of the wildest games in franchise history, known as the Frenzy on Figueroa, it stirred up memories of 1982’s Miracle on Manchester. The Kings won the next game in Detroit to take a 3-2 lead in the series, and then back at STAPLES Center, Adam Deadmarsh scored an overtime goal to eliminate the favored Red Wings. The Kings then took the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche to seven games before being eliminated in the second round.
The Kings and Avalanche became regular dance partners with the two teams meeting again in the opening round of the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs. For the second consecutive year, the Kings rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to force a seventh game before bowing out of the playoffs.
Just as the Kings were rounding into a contender in the Western Conference, injuries sidelined both Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh, dashing playoff hopes. The following year, Allison and Deadmarsh were unable to overcome concussions and Ziggy Palffy missed a large portion of the season with a shoulder injury. The injuries got the best of the Kings, keeping them out of the playoffs for the second straight season.
After a season lost to the lockout, the Kings returned to the ice in 2005-06 with a roster makeover. But veterans Jeremy Roenick and Pavol Demitra were unable to get the Kings back in the playoffs.