Does that make the break potentially a bad thing? The Kings play doormat Edmonton on Thursday night and then the Avalanche on Saturday before the long layoff, but head coach Terry Murray doesn't believe that two-plus weeks off will affect his team.
"Certainly, it brings everything to a stop," Murray told FanHouse by phone. "But it's a league-wide thing. We had an eight-day break before Christmas and that was difficult, because other teams continue to play and you're trying to practice and stay sharp; that's almost impossible to do. But this break will be a good time for our players not in the Olympics to get rejuvenated for the stretch run."
The Kings came out of that little stoppage in play in December by dropping three in a row and six of nine, but since then, they've played 13 games and lost just twice, to the division-leading Sharks and then to the Ducks.
The team-record winning streak included a five-game road trip that opened in Detroit and ended in New Jersey, not an easy stretch of the season, and the Kings didn't help themselves by falling behind by two goals to start the games against the Red Wings and the Devils. Last week, L.A. fell behind by three goals in a home win over Detroit. The Kings have six wins when trailing after two periods, tied for most in the NHL, and Murray thinks the come-from-behind victory at Joe Louis Arena, in particular, helped get L.A. into gear.
So Los Angeles has the wherewithal to stage big comebacks, a very nice trait, particularly, as Murray noted, for a young team. Still, the Kings are 27-5-3 when they score first, and they are 22-0 when leading after two periods – that's the preferred way to go.
"As a team, you don't want to get down like that early very often, whether it's because of a slow start or the other team playing well or some breaks one way or the other," Murray said. "Sometimes, whatever the circumstances, it's too late to turn it around once you get into that situation.
"It's great to see the team is able to do it, that they find a way to do it, I like that, but the other side is that it can be nerve-wracking."
By falling to the Ducks, the Kings lost the grasp on the fourth spot in the Western Conference that they'd gained with their roll. Murray said he doesn't look at the standings, because you know whether you're in a playoff spot or not, but he knows that the fourth seed comes with a nice perk that fifth or below does not.
"If you have home-ice advantage, it's great," he said. "It is an advantage, no doubt about it, and you have to take advantage of it, but we all know with a young club, there is a lot of pressure with a home opener."
The Kings have eight players age 24 or younger, including goalie Jonathan Quick (24), top forward Anze Kopitar (22) and star defenseman Drew Doughty, who just turned 20. That might help explain the team's prowess on the road; the Kings' 19 road wins are the second-most in the league.
"You need everyone to execute, and we have a real simple game plan on the road," Murray said. "It's planted in their minds. On home ice, maybe they have a tendency to think they can do more."
It probably was never quite that close; Murray said that it never got to the point where general manager Dean Lombardi talked to the coaching staff about the potential acquisition, and he would have had it been on the brink of happening.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't see some of the stories on the internet and other places," Murray said, adding with a laugh, "but I didn't get into penciling in lines or anything."