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Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (C) celebrates his 1st period goal against the Phoenix Coyotes with teammates Drew Doughty (8) and Dustin Brown (23) during Game 5 of the NHL Western Conference hockey finals in Glendale, Arizona, May 22, 2012. REUTERS/Todd KorolTODD KOROL/Reuters

On average, life as an eighth seed in the NHL isn't great.

The vast, vast majority are eliminated in the first two rounds (94%). They even drop out in the first round 74 per cent of the time.

The average eighth seed also wins less than three playoff games a year, is outscored 3.26 to 2.08 a game and is out shot by nearly seven shots a game.

A fluke is usually, in other words, the only way they get through.

Including this season, there have been 36 eighth seeded teams under this format. Four have failed to win a game in the playoffs (11%), another eight have won just one game (22%) and another 11 on top of that have won just two games (30.6%).

So where did these red-hot, Cup contending Los Angeles Kings come from?

As noted in the past on this blog, some of their rise is due to changes in personnel, both behind the bench and on their roster. Coach Darryl Sutter has helped free up their style to finally start producing some goals, and Jeff Carter has helped offensively in giving them some much needed depth.

What didn't happen, however, was a dramatic overhaul, not enough to explain the Kings going 12-2 and rolling over the competition in the Western Conference in the first three rounds in a fashion never seen from an underdog in the NHL.

There is, and always has been, a lot of talent on this team - so much so that they may well be the best eighth seed ever assembled.

To put that in context, the NHL has really only had eighth seeds going back to 1993-94, when they changed the playoff format so that instead of the top four teams in divisions advancing, it became the top eight in each conference.

This is the 18th playoff season since then, and only two teams out of that group of 36 have made the finals: the 2006 Edmonton Oilers and this year's Kings.

Since the most recent lockout in 2004-05, however, eighth seeds have been faring much better in the standings. In addition to the Oilers and Kings, the 2010 Montreal Canadiens went to Round 3 and the 2009 Anaheim Ducks went to Game 7 in the second round.

Increased parity, in other words, has helped those on the low end, as the gap between the best of the best and those sneaking into the playoffs has narrowed considerably.

Looking back over the years, however, the Kings have the best win percentage, goals against average, goal differential and save percentage of any eighth seed since the switch to the conference format.

So calling them the best eighth seed ever isn't all that far off.

<h5 style='border-top: #000 1px solid; border-bottom: #000 1px dotted; font:14px Georgia,serif; font-weight: normal; width: 460px; padding: 5px 0; margin: 20px 0 0'>The best eighth seeds since 1993-94</h5><iframe src="" scrolling='no' frameborder='no' width='460' height='300' style='border-bottom: 1px dotted #000; margin: 20px 0 0' ></iframe>

Here's the data on the eighth seeds since 1993-94: link