The Kings could hardly be considered to have suffered a Stanley Cup hangover last year. One year after they triumphed over the New Jersey Devils to win their first championship in franchise history, they made it all the way to the Western Conference finals before being eliminated by the Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
The Kings are largely unchanged from the group that won it all in 2012, so there’s no reason to believe they aren’t a threat to do it again this season. But like any other team, they need some good luck to make it happen.
Odds To Win Stanley Cup: 8/1
Key #1: Quick is King
If ever there was any doubt about Jonathan Quick’s dominance in the Los Angeles net, it was dispelled this summer when backup Jonathan Bernier was dealt to Toronto. Seen by many as a future starter in his own right, Bernier now has a chance to succeed elsewhere, and will no longer push Quick for playing time.
But some goaltenders suffer when they no longer have that kind of pressure pushing them to perform. Once the starting job is clearly theirs, they can stop pushing themselves as hard as they once did, and their play can suffer as a result. It’s unlikely that a proven netminder like Quick will succumb to bad habits at this point, which is good for the Kings. The net in Los Angeles belongs to him for as long as he can keep it, and the Kings surely hope his reign will include another Cup victory or two.
Key #2: Continued scoring presence
With a talent like Anze Kopitar heading the offence, the Kings are always a danger in the offensive zone. Kopitar is well into his prime as one of the league’s most gifted scorers, and he’s coming off a strong 42-point campaign in the lockout shortened season. There’s no reason to believe he can’t be equally explosive this year, and his continued scoring touch is an important weapon in Los Angeles.
Other important offensive contributors include veteran Justin Williams, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and captain Dustin Brown, all of whom must compliment Kopitar in order for the Kings to make noise in the competitive Western Conference.
With a strong goalie like Quick behind them, the Kings can clinch many games if they score two or three goals.
Key #3: Stingy defence
During their run to the 2012 Stanley Cup, the Kings showed that they are a team that prioritizes solid defensive play, and it paid off. Though they have a top quality netminder behind them, they don’t use that as an excuse to play fast and loose. Defenders like Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov and Robyn Regehr will be key in making the Kings tough to play against.
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