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Unsatisfied Los Angeles Kings hope to improve going forward

The Kings defeated the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but right wing Justin Williams says there is room for improvement.

May 11, 2013|Helene Elliott
  • Justin Williams, shown after scoring in Game 4 against St. Louis, is still looking for improvement from himself and the rest of the Kings after a first-round playoff win over the Blues.
Justin Williams, shown after scoring in Game 4 against St. Louis, is still… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Making history has become routine for the Kings.

Last spring they became the first No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup, upsetting the 1-2-3 teams in the West before defeating the New Jersey Devils in the final. After opening their title defense by dismissing the fourth-seeded St. Louis Blues, the Kings appear to have picked up where they left off.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the fifth-seeded Kings are the first NHL team to win five consecutive playoff series despite playing Game 1 on the road in each series. They've started 16 straight playoff series on the road, last opening at home in 1992, when home was the Forum.

Here's another oddity: excluding the ongoing New York Rangers-Washington Capitals series, there have been 326 best-of-seven series in which one team lost the first two games. Only 44 have rallied to win the series (13.5%). The Kings became No. 44 on Friday with their 2-1 victory at Staples Center.

The historic aspects never occurred to them. They were happy, sure. But they limited their celebrations to smiles and sighs of relief after a physical series in which they outhit the Blues, 241-238, and all six games were decided by one goal.

"There seemed to be just a sense of business as usual. We expect this, but at the same time we're obviously not satisfied," right wing Justin Williams said Saturday.

"We're happy with the win but not satisfied. And just I guess we expect to win. We know there's a lot of room for improvement and it's just four wins out of 16 that we're looking to get."

Williams' search for improvement began by looking in the mirror. Although he excelled at both ends of the ice against the Blues, he said he and linemates Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown must pick up their games. They scored four of the Kings' 12 goals against St. Louis.

"We need to be better moving forward for us to keep advancing in these playoffs," Williams said. "We got by, by playing great defensively and scoring timely goals, but sometimes that can only take you so far. We need everybody on top of their game. That's what we had last year. That's what we're going to need if we're going to keep stringing wins together and series wins."

Their second-round matchup will be determined Sunday. If the No. 2 Ducks beat the No. 7 Red Wings at Anaheim, the Kings will face the Ducks and start on the road. If the Red Wings advance, the Kings will face No. 6 San Jose and will have home-ice advantage.

"We're familiar with both teams," said left wing Dustin Penner, who won the Cup with the Ducks in 2007 and with the Kings last season. "Anaheim would be shorter for travel — a 45-minute bus ride as opposed to a 45-minute flight — but I think if we end up playing the Ducks it would be great for hockey in Southern California.

"But it doesn't really matter who we face because we have no control over it. We're just going to do what we have to, to prepare ourselves for that series."

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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