Regular Season: After raising the Stanley Cup in 2012 and having an extended off-season, the Kings muddled along during the regular season, finishing with the 5th seed in the first round.
Playoffs: The Kings looked like they were in trouble during the first round, dropping the first two games in St. Louis. However, it was a wake-up call and despite the fight put up by the Blues, the Kings swept the last 4 games of the series. Home ice advantage proved to work in their favor as they eliminated the Sharks in round 2, going the distance with the home team winning every game. Chicago proved to be a tougher out, and the Kings bowed out to the eventual Cup Champs in 5 games.
Out: F Dustin Penner, F Brad Richardson, D Rob Scuderi, G Jonathan Bernier
In: F Matt Frattin, F Daniel Carcillo, D Jeff Schultz, G Ben Scrivens
Ready To Make The Jump: F Tyler Toffoli
BIG 3 FACTORS
1. Hangover Cured: Since no team has repeated since 1997-98, it is no surprise the Kings didn’t win the Cup last season. However, they are solid enough and have the pieces in place to pull a Blackhawk and get back to the promised land after a year.
2. Quick Start: There is no longer a goalie controversy in LA, as Jonathan Quick is the undisputed #1 now that Bernier is gone. Scrivens will play as his backup, a spot that he is suited for. Can Quick keep up the performance without being pushed like he was ahead of Bernier?
3. Toffoli Time: My pick for rookie of the year is Toffoli, who should have a great shot at playing alongside Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. He proved in the playoffs that he is ready to play full time in the NHL, and all he does is score.
PROGNOSIS: Even in the tough Pacific Division, the Kings are the class of the field. They have depth up the middle, strength on the wings and one of the deeper blue lines in the league. Combine that with Quick as the last line of defense and they are a tough team to play against.
PREDICTION: 1st Pacific Division
We have been and will be previewing every NHL team ahead of Training Camp which for most teams will begin on Sept 11th. As a twist, we will be unveiling our teams in reverse order to how I predict they will finish in the standings. Here is the schedule (you can click on a team name to see the preview for that team):
|1||Sept 9||Sept 8||Sept 7||Kings|