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Original Issue

11 Los Angeles Kings

When the Kings acquired right wing Adam Deadmarsh from the
Avalanche last February as part of the trade that sent Rob Blake
to Colorado, they knew he would provide more than a nice scoring
touch. Deadmarsh, who had 138 goals in six-plus seasons, is one
of the feistiest forwards in the league, and Los Angeles, a
franchise that hadn't won a playoff game since 1993, wanted him
to add grit to a team that had rarely showed any. Deadmarsh
fulfilled that hope in the postseason, scoring an overtime goal
in the Kings' first-round upset of the Red Wings and leading Los
Angeles forwards with 35 hits in a grinding, seven-game loss to
the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Avalanche in the next round.

With the free-agent departure of 37-goal scorer Luc Robitaille,
the Kings now want to see more of that scoring touch from the
26-year-old Deadmarsh, who had only four goals in 18
regular-season games after the deal. He will be counted on, along
with centers Jozef Stumpel (16 goals and 39 assists in 2000-01)
and Bryan Smolinski (27, 32) and right wings Glen Murray (18, 21)
and Steve Heinze (27, 27 with the Blue Jackets and the Sabres),
to lighten the load on wing Ziggy Palffy, who was 10th in the
league in scoring with 89 points. "We have more depth than ever
at every position," says coach Andy Murray, who also counts
impressive second-year center Eric Belanger among his top
forwards. "Steve Heinze can't replace all of Luc's goals, so
we're going to need balanced scoring throughout our lineup. We
don't have a choice."

If the Kings do score, they'll be tough to beat. Their defense,
even without Blake, was strong last year. Veteran blueliner
Mathieu Schneider, who efficiently runs the power play, and
Lubomir Visnovsky can dish the puck like point guards. Goaltender
Felix Potvin, who was obtained from the Canucks for future
considerations in February, went 13-5-5 with five shutouts to
lead a late-season surge that vaulted L.A. into the playoffs. He
was equally impressive in the postseason, with a .909 save
percentage and 2.44 goals-against average.

"Luc and Blake were big parts of our team last year," says
Deadmarsh. "It's going to take gritty efforts for us to win games
now, and it's going to have to come from everybody."

--Mark Beech


Fast Fact

Last season Lubomir Visnovsky became only the third Kings
defenseman named to the NHL All-Rookie Team, joining Rob Blake
(1990-91) and Steve Duchesne (1986-87).



FORWARDS 14 Balanced unit led by Palffy, Deadmarsh should
DEFENSE 13 Norstrom can handle any power forward in league
GOALTENDING 25 Potvin must prove terrific late run wasn't a
SPECIAL TEAMS 13 Solid shooters on PP; Schneider a top
MANAGEMENT 19 Coach Murray has Kings very well prepared