We know how the
The question is, where do they go from here: home for the summer, as the first defending champion to miss the playoffs since Carolina won in 2006 and didn't qualify in 2007, or to the postseason on the breath of the near-miracle that's now required?
This isn't new territory for a team that has thrived on suspense. They sneaked in as the No. 8 seed in 2012 and then blazed to a 3-0 lead in all four rounds, needing only 20 games to win the Cup. Last spring they escaped elimination four times in the first round and seven times overall, prevailing in three Game 7s on the road before defeating the
They've always had one more push in them, one more show of defiance.
"We know what it takes," defenseman
Knowing what they must do and having the physical and mental reserves to do it are not the same.
They've played 64 playoff games the past three seasons, the most by any
The Kings also are victims of their success, and to factors no one could have anticipated.
Salary cap concerns led General Manager
Still, the Kings might have coped if they hadn't lost
Lombardi has made far more good decisions than bad ones, but he let sentiment overrule reason when he passed up a chance to use a compliance buyout on fading center
Richards, unable to recapture his old form, contributed little before being waived and sent to the
Then too there are the Kings' inexplicable failures in overtime (1-7) and shootouts (2-8). Where was the scoring that would have spared them these one-goal losses? Among the missing was team captain
If the Kings are heading home instead of to the playoffs, they should go out with a fiery effort Thursday and Saturday. It's the right thing to do, and the first step toward climbing back atop the mountain they've occupied these past three seasons.