LA Kings thinking about the franchise’s first division championship since 1990-91

The Kings last won a division championship in 1991.

That’s also the only Kings division title.

Winning in 2016 would be a pride thing for the Kings.

It also would be a seeding thing.

The top finisher in the division receives no worse than the No. 2 seeded spot for the Stanley Cup playoffs next month. As it stood Friday morning, it meant home-ice advantage for the first-place Kings for the first two rounds of the playoffs and a first-round matchup with the Nashville Predators.

The second-place Ducks and third-place Sharks would face off in the opening round.

“We’re trying to be a playoff team,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter has said again and again.

He’s used that to answer questions ranging from the team’s power play to El Nino.

Or so it’s seemed.

Others have offered deeper insight into what it means to finish first.

“You play all season long for that home-ice advantage,” left wing Milan Lucic said after Wednesday’s overtime victory over the Washington Capitals returned the Kings to first place. “That’s what the season is all about, finishing as high as you can in your division and in your conference.”

Home-ice advantage meant nothing to the Kings during their run to the 2014 Stanley Cup championship. They won a winner-take-all Game 7 three times, each on the road, before dispatching the New York Rangers in five games with home-ice advantage in the Final.

Two years earlier, the Kings became the first team to advance from the eighth-seeded position to Stanley Cup champions. They didn’t have the home-ice edge for any of the four rounds of the playoff tournament, defeating the New Jersey Devils in six games.

“We want to get home ice,” Kings forward Jeff Carter said of the push for first in the Pacific. “We’ve seen the last few times we’ve been in the playoffs how big Game 7s are. When you have it in your home rink, it’s a big advantage.”

Meet the Ducks new shutdown line: Cogliano, Horcoff, Hagelin

The Ducks won the Stanley Cup championship in 2006-07 with a third line of Travis Moen, Sammy Pahlsson and Rob Niedermayer that shut down anyone and everyone they played against. Have the Ducks found a new third line capable of such blanket defensive coverage?

It sure seems that way, after Andrew Cogliano, Shawn Horcoff and Carl Hagelin helped to shut out the Sedin twins during the Ducks’ 4-0 victory Monday over the Vancouver Canucks. As a bonus, Horcoff scored the first goal of the game, with assists from Cogliano and Hagelin.

“It’s been good,” Horcoff said. “Since we started, we have chemistry right off the bat, almost immediately. Bruce (Boudreau, Ducks coach,) has given us a pretty role playing against top lines and wanting us to shut them down and do the best we can alongside (Ryan Kesler’s) line. With that, we’ve been able to produce some offense, which is nice.”



Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau doesn’t sound embattled


Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau seemed calm, cool and collected after the team held an optional workout Saturday, less than 24 hours after a 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche dropped them to 0-3-1 to start the season and prompted speculation that he was on the hot seat. Expectations were for a standout regular season from the Ducks, picked by many to win the Stanley Cup championship.

Boudreau seemed unfazed by the tension of such a rocky start to 2015-16.

“You know what? I listened to teams all last year that weren’t successful say they had no puck luck,” Boudreau said. “I said we’re never going to use that as an excuse. You make your own luck. If you go to the right places and you win the battles, the luck will come your way. I think we were a lot better (Friday) night than in the previous three games. So, we want to say with that and build on that. If we build on that, then good things are going to happen eventually.”

Boudreau said he expects one goal will relieve a great deal of pressure.

“I’ve got to believe there will a pressure released everywhere,” he said. “I think the fans are dying to cheer for a goal. You could see it. We can’t get frustrated. If this is the worst streak we go through all year, then we’ll be better for it when we come out of it, and especially if we come out of it playing the right way. It’s not going to be easy. … When we do come out of it, we’ll be playing the right way all the time.

“Then we’ll go from there.”