With two of their big offensive guns out of the lineup, the Kings will have to depend more heavily on Willie Mitchell (left), Drew Doughty (right) and the rest of their solid defensive corps. (AP Photo)
By Stu Hackel
It has never happened before, but all three of the NHL’s California-based teams could reach the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Sharks kicked their season into gear in mid-January and returned to the top of the Pacific Division. The Kings, too, shook off their earlier inconsistency and have captured 18 of 24 points so far this month, giving themselves a shot at the fourth seed in the Western Conference. And the Ducks have gone 10-3-1 in their last 14 to take the seventh spot and give themselves a good chance to make the spring party.
The Ducks and the Kings have never appeared in the playoffs together during the same season, but even if we witness a little history next week, the Kings’ playoff fortunes took a major hit on Saturday when they lost their top scorer, Anze Kopitar, who broke his ankle in L.A.’s 4-1 win over the Avalanche.