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Last year's ranking: 24
Title track: 2
Fan relations: 2
Stadium experience: 12
Bang for the buck: 26
After nine seasons of nothing better than an opening-round playoff flameout, the Kings have advanced to the NHL's final four in each of the past three years -- and brought home Lord Stanley's shiny metal chalice twice. As if they were following a Hollywood script, they fought back from a 3-0 series deficit in the opening round against San Jose and played three Game 7s en route to the franchise's second championship.
At first glance, L.A. doesn't add up; it lacks a 30-goal scorer, and goalie Jonathan Quick was pedestrian for most of the season, ranking outside the top 15 in save percentage. But depth, playing their best when it mattered most and the coaching expertise of Darryl Sutter brought the Kings to the promised land. L.A. had three centers with at least 40 points, Quick made more than 700 saves in the team's Cup run and it has won 57 percent of its games under Sutter since he became the bench boss in December 2011. So even though they may lack an MVP candidate, the unselfish Kings are, not surprisingly, ranked second overall in our player category.
L.A. also topped the league in fan relations (up 64 spots from 2013). Staples Center held appreciation nights for teachers, firefighters, law enforcement and season-ticket-holders last season. At an average cost per game of $92.83, it isn't cheap to see Anze Kopitar dazzle on both ends of the ice, but the Kings still rank ahead of 14 NHL teams in affordability. So after jumping from 32 to 24 last year, and now to fifth overall, the Los Angeles traffic might be the only thing between the Kings and No. 1 at this point.