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2014 NHL Western Conference Final Preview: LA Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar

ANAHEIM AND LOS ANGELES, CA — At this time one year ago, the Los Angeles Kings went into the Western Conference Final (WCF) against the Chicago Blackhawks a bruised, battered and banged up team, as several players continued to play despite having suffered injuries earlier in the playoffs.

To make matters worse, center Anze Kopitar was in the midst of a 34-game scoring slump, the longest drought of his National Hockey League career, and it could not have come at a worse time.

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Confidence Is High For LA Kings Heading Into Game 7 vs. Anaheim Ducks

Forward Trevor Lewis (left) has stepped up his game in the playoffs
once again for the LA Kings, while teammate Justin Williams (right) is
5-0 in Game 7’s in his NHL career.

EL SEGUNDO, CA — For the Los Angeles Kings, playing in the seventh game of a playoff series almost seems routine, a foregone conclusion. After all, they are about to play their second Game 7 in consecutive playoff series, already having won Game 7 in the first round against the San Jose Sharks.

Last season, the Kings also needed seven games to get past the Sharks in the second round of the playoffs.

As a team, the Kings are just 5-4 in Game 7’s in their history. But the current team, as individuals, has enjoyed great success in Game 7’s, earning a combined 52-7 record. That has helped make them comfortable and has them feeling very confident heading into Friday’s Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center in Anaheim.

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For LA Kings, Fixing The Initial Problem Should Take Care Of The Rest Of’Em

LA Kings forward Jeff Carter (left), shown here after scoring a power play goal during his team’s 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in playoff action on Thursday, May 10, 2014, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO, CA — As the Los Angeles Kings filed into their dressing room after their 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of their second round playoff matchup on May 8, they knew exactly why they lost.

Sloppy puck management in their own zone led to turnovers, and wide gaps on breakouts, which led to poor passing, and eventually, great difficulty in generating a forecheck and quality scoring chances.

Kings center Mike Richards indicated that indeed, poor puck management created a cascade of other problems.

That brings to mind the old children’s song, ’Dem Dry Bones.

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LA Kings Rookie LW Tanner Pearson Is Flying As High As His Confidence Has Soared

AUDIO INTERVIEWS: Listen to audio from May 7 interviews with Tanner Pearson, Drew Doughty, Jarret Stoll and head coach Darryl Sutter.


LA Kings rookie left wing Tanner Pearson, shown here during practice on May 7, 2014, at the Toyota Sports Center in EL Segundo, California.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net

EL SEGUNDO, CA — In case you haven’t noticed, Los Angeles Kings rookie left wing Tanner Pearson has been flying during the playoffs…almost literally. He has been more effective during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs than at any point during the regular season, making plays and using his speed, which, all of a sudden, appears to be his most dangerous weapon.

Conventional wisdom suggests that a young player like the 21-year-old Pearson should find it more difficult to be effective in the National Hockey League playoffs than it was during the regular season. Nevertheless, the converse has been true for Pearson, who has scored a goal and has contributed three assists for four points, with a +5 plus/minus rating and four penalty minutes in seven playoff games.

Compared to this time last year when Pearson played just 5:44 in Game 3 against the San Jose Sharks, the 6-1, 200-pound native of Kitchener, Ontario has come a long way in just one season.

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