The process began in 2006, when the Kings hired Dean Lombardi as general manager and Lombardi began the process of overhauling the organization by building around a core of young players.
The job isn’t done — no team, short of the Stanley Cup champion, considers its season a full success — but the Kings took a big step Sunday night when they beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series. The Kings won the series in five games.
This is the first time since 2001 that the Kings have advanced past the first round. For 10 of the 20 players who dressed for Sunday’s game, it was their first NHL playoff series victory.
That includes captain Dustin Brown, the longest-tenured King, who joined the team in 2003.
“It’s huge,” Brown said. “I’ve been here for eight, nine years, and this is a pretty good feeling for a lot of guys in here, especially the guys who have been here for an extended amount of time.
“It’s been a work in progress. This team has worked hard, and in saying that, we’ve got to enjoy it but get ready to go again.”
The Kings, as the No. 8 seed, pulled a massive upset of the Canucks, who won the President’s Trophy, and the Kings will be underdogs again in their second-round series against No. 2 St. Louis.
“Obviously to close out the series, for me personally and a few guys in the room, it’s something that we’ve never done,” goalie Jonathan Quick said. “It’s a great feeling. But we’re looking forward, now, to St. Louis in a couple days and we’re looking forward to that series.”
NOTES, QUOTES Kings’ win historic in several ways –For the first time in history, the Kings won a best-of-seven playoff series in five games. The Kings have never swept a best-of-seven series. –Jarret Stoll’s goal marked the third time in franchise history that the Kings scored a series-winning goal in overtime. Mike Krushelnyski eliminated Calgary in 1990 with an overtime goal and Adam Deadmarsh eliminated Detroit with an overtime goal in 2001, which was the last time the Kings reached the second round. –It was the 10th time, since the NHL went to its current conference alignments in 1994, that a No. 8 seed eliminated a No. 1 seed. It was also the sixth time a President’s Trophy winner was eliminated in the first round since the award was established in 1986. –Down on the farm, the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate ended a historic winning streak. The Monarchs beat the Norfolk Admirals 5-2 on Saturday in Game 2 of a first-round playoff series. The Admirals had won 28 consecutive games to end the regular season — a record for North American professional hockey — and had defeated the Monarchs in Game 1. The best-of-five series, tied 1-1, moves to Manchester for Games 3 and 4 (and, potentially, Game 5 as well). QUOTE TO NOTE: “I was seeing a little bit of room up there, and short side, maybe that’s something that they’re not expecting. I was definitely shooting all the way. Lewie (Trevor Lewis) did a great job on the turnover, just forcing their D-man. I was just at the right place at the right time and had a nice little transition 2-on-1.” — Kings center Jarret Stoll, on his overtime goal.
ROSTER REPORT PLAYER NOTES: –G Jonathan Quick’s final game of the series might have been his best. Quick stopped 26 of 27 shots but made a handful of saves or deflections on Grade A scoring chances by the Canucks. Quick started all five games of the series and allowed a total of eight goals. The series victory was a bit of individual validation for Quick, who had reached the playoffs with the Kings in each of the previous two seasons but had been eliminated in the first round both times, including by the Canucks in 2010. –C Jarret Stoll scored the winning goal in overtime. Stoll also scored the game-winning goal in Game 2 in Vancouver, making him the first Kings player in franchise history to ever score two game-winning goals in the same series. It marked quite a turnaround from the regular season for Stoll, a 20-goal scorer last season who moved to the third line this season after the Kings acquired C Mike Richards. The Kings’ best faceoff man and a skilled penalty-killer, Stoll has been primarily focused on his defensive game this season, but in overtime, Stoll kept the puck on a 2-on-1 and beat Vancouver G Cory Schneider with a high shot. –LW Kyle Clifford missed his fourth consecutive game because of a head injury, and it’s not known when Clifford might be able to return to action. Clifford suffered the injury when he was hit by Vancouver RW Byron Bitz, a hit that led to a two-game suspension for Bitz. Clifford returned to the ice Wednesday and Thursday for conditioning skating but did not skate on Friday or Saturday in advance of Sunday’s Game 5. Coach Darryl Sutter did not indicate whether Clifford had suffered a setback or when Clifford might skate again.