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Kings Show More Offense as Second Half Begins

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With a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames, the Kings have now reached the halfway point of their season. After a slow start to the season the Kings are starting to round into a contender albeit a more offense one than last season.

After being outscored 9-3 over two games by the Kings, Flames head coach Bob Hartley agreed that the Kings are contenders.

"They're a big team," Hartley said. "They come at you. You look at their speed and size, it's very impressive."

This two-game series against the Flames really showed that. The Flames are an undersized team, and seeing the Kings dominate the play in the first period made you wonder if the Flames were going to get blown out of the arena. Dustin Brown scored on an early power play, and Jarret Stoll notched on midway through the period.

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But the Flames made a push in the final two periods, really taking the game to the Kings in that third period when they finally scored a goal.

"We had to withstand them," Jarret Stoll said about the final 20 minutes. "We did a good job and found a way to win."

The Kings have scored 22 goals in the last five games dating back to last Monday, and it looks like the Kings are becoming an offensive juggernaut. Last season the Kings ended the regular season ranked 29 out of the 30 NHL teams in goals scored. The Kings are 11th in the league with 70 goals and ninth with 2.92 goals per game.

Captain Dustin Brown pointed to the young defensemen gaining experience as one of the prime reasons for the windfall.

"They're jumping up and keeping pucks in. You can see it in our offensive-zone play. They're getting more involved on the walls. As a winger, that's one of the hardest things to cover. Now that we're doing more of it, you're starting to see more opportunities on offense."

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I followed up with asking what the difference was between this year and last year. I wanted to be generous and said that scoring was "a bit more difficult" for them last year. Brown corrected me. "It was a lot more difficult," he said, emphasis his.

"When you have a player that's as hot as [Jeff] Carter is, that helps your goal scoring," Brown said before crediting the defensemen. "A big part of it is the three guys on the back end. I don't think Drew [Doughty] has a goal yet, but he creates a lot of open ice for other players. Slava Voynov and Jake Muzzin, it's a much harder game to defend for the other team when you have those D down in the walls and back in the plays."

Muzzin in particular has made a smooth transition into the NHL scoring three goals and three assists in this five-game homestand. He didn't complicate things too much when trying to explain this.

"Confidence, man," Muzzin said. "Believing in yourself and getting to play with some great players. You get the rewards from their hard work."

Muzzin never thought it would be this smooth. "Yeah right man," he joked. "Are you kidding me?"

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Surprisingly the world didn't end with Carter not scoring. Almost as surprising is Doughty not having scored a goal yet although he has 10 assists and is a +6 in this homestand. But despite all of that, the slow start, the inexperienced defensemen, Brown pointed to winning the Stanley Cup last season as a source of confidence.

"It's more when you win the Cup you have confidence in your group. You've accomplished the pinnacle of the game. You know you can do it. It's just a matter of getting to work and putting the time into doing things right. Collectively the belief system is that much stronger."

Also getting stronger is goaltender Jonathan Quick who flirted with his first shutout of the season. After getting offseason back surgery, he has struggled to regain his form. At times head coach Darryl Sutter had called him out for his performance. But against the Flames tonight, Quick showed signs of regaining his Vezina form.

"Quick was pretty solid for us," Sutter said. "He was pretty sharp."

Although Carter didn't score, his six goals last week got him the third star of the NHL honors just behind Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby. A Kings player recognized for his offense.

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Times they are a-changin'.

Whether the Kings keep up this offense will be a challenge. Starting tomorrow the Kings play the next five games against divisional foes Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks.