L.A. staggering to the finish line

With reinforcements coming back from injury and, the Kings are sputtering down the stretch.

Updated: March 22, 2004, 11:47 AM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
For most of the season the Los Angeles Kings have hung in the playoff race despite a rash of injuries to key players. With reinforcements coming back from injury and arriving via trades, suddenly the Kings are sputtering down the stretch in their quest to reach the postseason.

The Kings (28-23-16-7) have lost three in a row and four of their past five games while falling to 10th place, two points behind eighth-place St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Not to fault the new and returning players for Los Angeles' slide, but Kings head coach Andy Murray suggested that maybe the team hasn't been as focused as before when it thrived with an us-against-the-world attitude.

"I wondered a little bit myself if we were losing a little bit of our identity with the new players coming in that we added and the injured players coming back," Murray told the Los Angeles Times.