Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 4/7/12

BOSTON - JANUARY 01: Mike Richards #18 of the Philadelphia Flyers smiles before playing against the Boston Bruins during the 2010 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 1, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

On the strength of their Vezina-contending goaltender and an improving offense, the Los Angeles Kings hope to make some noise this spring.

How exactly does one explain the 2011-12 Kings?

They were involved in one of the two Flyers blockbuster trades last summer when they sent a package of players to Philadelphia for Mike Richards. Conventional thinking was that Richards, who was the Flyers' captain, would bring his usual 25-30 goals and 65-75 points to a team that was already loaded with talent.
Conservative expectations were that, with Richards added to the fold, the Kings would push the Sharks for the Pacific Division title and certainly be a top team in the Western Conference.
Fast forward to Game 82. One player involved in the Richards trade has 28 goals this season -- it just happens to be Wayne Simmonds. Richards heads into the season's final game with 17 markers and 43 points in an injury-shortened 73 games.
Richards wasn't alone in the struggling department for the Kings earlier this year. At the All-Star Break, only three Kings had scored more than nine goals and Los Angeles was dead last in the NHL in scoring. Indeed, the only reason they were in the playoff conversation was Jonathan Quick.
A trade deadline move to put Richards back together with the other exiled Flyers forward from last summer, Jeff Carter, has paid off and the Kings have been one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference. They've been so good that they enter the final game of their year ranked 29th in the NHL in scoring, now boasting a 2.30 goals per game average as a team.
But now Carter has a foot issue. The Kings are 3-2-2 in their last seven, and are limping into a finale that will determine if they're a division winner on Sunday or packing bags for St. Louis or Vancouver.
The one constant all season for the Kings has been Quick, who should take the Vezina hardware home this year. Even with the offense being average at best, the Kings have been as good as any on the back end and their 2.06 team goals-against average is second in the league.
Try to mitigate a .929 save percentage and 1.93 goals-against average with a 35-21-12 record. It's impossible. Quick's numbers are too good for that many losses, but that's the nature of the beast in L.A. this year.
And it will remain the million-dollar question as the playoffs begin.
Whether the Kings are the three, seven or eight seed in the west will only determine their opponent. The bigger question for Los Angeles starting April 11 is if they can score enough goals each night to move past the first round.

Photo credit: Getty Images
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Steel workers on Kings arena wrote ‘Go Warriors’ on materials

Report: Cavs could put Love on trading block within next year

Red Sox GM: 'Time to think about' team being sellers

Cardinals fire scouting director in hacking scandal fallout

Report: Lakers to get second meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Antonio Gates suspended four games for violating drug policy

Tim Duncan officially returning to Spurs for another season

Rolando McClain suspended four games for substance abuse

Jets' Richardson suspended four games for violating drug policy

Report: Aldridge not impressed with Lakers' branding pitch

Toronto column after trade details Kessel's love of hot dogs

Report: Mavericks Sign Wes Matthews to Four-Year Contract

Dwyane Wade celebrates contract with tea, painted toenails

Coach K at fan town hall: 'I have no thoughts on retiring'

Carroll doesn’t just bring skill to Toronto; he brings relevance

Carroll doesn’t just bring skill to Toronto; he brings relevance

Lakers and Knicks: Piece by piece with no shortcuts

Bubba Watson to paint over Confederate flag on General Lee

Brewery offers Aldridge free beer for life if he stays a Blazer

P. Diddy avoids felony charges in incident at UCLA

Day 1 of Greenbrier Classic nets golf fans $192,400

Mike Scioscia took down Mike Trout’s Nerf basketball hoop

What the Greg Monroe signing means for the Bucks

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Selecting the 2015 AL All-Stars

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.