Kings Once More?
In other words, the numbers aren’t working in favor of a Kings repeat championship. But all streaks come to an end some time, right?
Unlike a lot of the past Stanley Cup winners – who have undergone lineup changes in the offseason following their championship runs - the Los Angeles Kings will return a team that looks strikingly similar to their 2012 squad, and after a dominant playoff performance this past year, it’s safe to say that the Kings should have all the tools in place to make another deep run.
There have been a few hiccups in offseason. First, Goaltender Jonathan Quick underwent surgery to repair an inflammatory cyst and disc fragment, but thanks to the lockout, it appears he won’t have to miss the opening weeks of the season. Yet a more recent knee injury to star Center Anze Kopitar will likely leave the Kings shorthanded a bit to start the season.
With Quick, the Kings have one of the league’s premier goaltenders. Up front, Dustin Brown, Kopitar, Justin Williams, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter lead a balanced offensive attack that did everything they needed to do in their 2012 playoff run. And the defensive unit led by Drew Doughty, Willie Mitchell, and Rob Scuderi provided excellent support for Quick last year and should be ready to continue their stingy ways.
What’s similarly good news for the Kings is that the Western Conference is in a sort of awkward phase right now with usual powerhouses facing some big questions, and it is hard at this point to come up with a more confidant answer than the Kings as the top contender to win the conference.
The Canucks will have big goaltending questions, while the timetable for Ryan Kesler’s return is in doubt. The Blues were led by solid defense and a goaltending duo last season, and it’s a big question as to whether they can repeat their 2012 success. The Red Wings lost long-time defensive anchor Nicklas Lidstrom. The Wild made the big offseason splash with Parise and Suter but are still young and unproven overall. And the Sharks and Blackhawks return similar rosters this season but their recent playoff struggles aren’t very encouraging.
Will the Kings reign once again? Plenty of work yet to do, but all the right tools are certainly in place.