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Kings are showing their youth and talent in postseason run

KINGS-COYOTES FYI

GM Dean Lombardi uses a formula that also worked during his days in San Jose.

May 15, 2012|By Chris Foster

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The blueprint was not original ... well maybe to the Kings, who spent too many seasons chasing success with a checkbook and patchwork trades.

But General Manager Dean Lombardi followed a plan that was almost as old as the game, and had been successful during his time as the San Jose Sharks general manager.

"You walk a fine line between getting younger and getting better," Lombardi said.

The Kings have done both this season and are two victories from reaching the Stanley Cup finals after a 4-0 victory Tuesday over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. The Kings have gone deep in to the playoffs with a roster largely built through the draft.

"We're living in a world that says 'OK, we want it now,' " said Lomabrdi, who was hired by the Kings in 2006. "The fact of the matter is, you want to have a team that not only wins, [but] has a chance to be there year in and year out."

Only three Kings who have played in the postseason are 30 or older. Of the 20 players in uniform Tuesday, only two were free agents, while 11 were Kings draft picks, eight of which were drafted since Lombardi was hired.

Forward Dwight King, a fourth-round pick in 2007, had a puck deflect off him for the Kings' first goal Tuesday, giving him three goals through the first two games of the series.

Drew Doughty and Trevor Lewis, both also Lombardi draft picks, assisted on the goal.

"The first couple years, we signed all those free agents," Lombardi said. "We were an old team and we had to get young. That's when we started hoarding all the draft picks."

Lombardi followed the same path to success with the Sharks from 1996-2003. The Sharks — like the Kings — made the playoffs in his fourth year and were Stanley Cup challengers in his sixth season — just like the Kings.

"It's the same script, you just never know if it is going to follow the same track," Lombardi said.

The Kings are "anywhere between the third and fifth youngest team in the league," Lombardi said, with the average age "between 25-26."

"Traditionally guys learn to win in that 27-28 age range," Lombardi said.

In 2010, "Chicago showed you could win being at the younger end," Lombardi said.

The Coyotes took a different path with a roster that has 17 players who were signed as free agents or acquired in a trade.

"They are a unique model," Lombardi said.

Though not one he'd care to test drive.

"You go through the draft," Lombardi said. "[New Jersey General Manager] Lou Lamoriello always said that at the end of the year you should sit down and list your three biggest mistakes, and that wasn't hard for me to do, but none were ones that got us off track."

Of course, if the Coyotes win the Stanley Cup, Lombardi said, "we're all going to have to look at how they did it."

Numbers game

The victory gave the Kings nine consecutive playoff road victories — seven this season and two in 2011 —tying the New York Islanders' NHL record.

The Kings had two power-play goals — both by Jeff Carter — after having only one in their previous 44 chances.

The Kings killed four penalties, running their streak to 28 in a row.

Carter's hat trick was the 10th in Kings' playoff history. The last was Wayne Gretzky against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1993.

Goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots for his third playoff shutout, tying Felix Potvin's team record.

Lineup change

Kings forward Colin Fraser missed the game to attend to a family matter. Kyle Clifford replaced him in the lineup.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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