Los Angeles Kings
Regular Season Record-27-16-5 (2nd place Pacific Division)
Season Series-(Blackhawks won season series 2-1) Jan 19- Hawks-5 Kings-2, Feb-17 Hawks-3 Kings-2, March 25-Kings-5 Hawks-4
Summary- The 2013 LA Kings season started with a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks and it ended with a loss in Game #5 of the Western Conference Finals. The Kings raised their 2012 Stanley Cup Banner on the opening afternoon game of the 2013 season, and the Blackhawks were rude guests winning in LA 5-2 with Patrick Kane scoring the opening goal of the season. One thing that would be a staple of this season was that Jonathan Quick is a great goalie, but the Blackhawks were one team that had him solved.
The Kings didn’t really have a Stanley Cup hangover, but they never couldn’t catch the Anaheim Ducks for the division lead. The one thing that haunted the Kings all season was their difficulties scoring goals. The difference between teams that can’t score goals and the Kings is they have Quick at the end of the line. Quick is great and one of the best goalies now for two years running. Quick won the Conn Smythe in 2012 and should be the USA Olympic goalie in 2014.
The Kings in the first game of the playoffs after one of the worst plays you will ever see by a goalie especially the quality of Quick, were able to recover and knocked off the Blues by going down 2-0 then winning four straight. It says something of the greatness of Quick that he was able to overcome this play.
After getting rid of the Blues, the Kings played a 7 game series with the San Jose Sharks in which every game was won by the home team. The Kings scored first in every home game and Quick went on to shut out the Sharks twice and for the second consecutive year headed to the Western Conference Finals to face the Blackhawks.
The Western Conference Finals were a tough series and though the Hawks won the series 4-1 it sure felt like a 7 game series. The Kings are just like their coach Darryl Sutter which is tough nosed that won’t give away an inch. With the Hawks only seconds away from the Stanley Cup Finals the Kings still scratched and clawed to somehow tie up Game #5 in the final seconds. The game would go into Double OT and though this isn’t the first time you have seen it, Jonathan Toews fed Patrick Kane with a perfect pass and Kaner buried it and the series was over.
The Kings were missing Mike Richards for most of the series after getting hurt early in Game #1, and the Kings offense struggled to find scoring. If the Kings find some more scoring in 2013-2014 they will an excellent chance to return to a 3rd straight Western Conference Final.
To help us preview the 2013-2014 season we caught up with our friend Eric Roberts from the Fansided LA Kings site Rink Royalty to help answer some questions.
1. BU-The core of your team is locked up, after the signing of dustin brown. Do they have what it takes to win another championship?
RR-Oh yea. Dean Lombardi has really built a winning team here in Los Angeles. When he was putting this team together he made sure that this team could win for a long period of time and not just a season or two. When you look at the roster, you have Anze Kopitar signed for another three seasons, Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov signed for six seasons, and Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick signed for seven seasons. I would say this team, if they stay healthy, could win several more championships in the next decade.
2.BU- How important is it that Jonathan Quick has another solid season in the crease for the kings after the departure of Bernier?
RR-Unfortunately, most of the Kings’ success is based on Quick’s performance. Back when they won the Cup he was the only reason they didn’t come out of the first portion of the season in a huge hole. He kept them in games and also lost a lot of close game because there was very little offensive support. Bernier was key for the Kings for last season, because Quick looked very human during parts early in the season. Which is understandable, with the quick training camp and Quick’s back surgery during the offseason he was kind of set up for failure. So I think Quick will be back to his normal self for much if not all of next season and the Kings will need him to be.
3. BU-You snuck in to the playoffs as the last seed but everything fell into place and you won the Stanley Cup. If the Kings are going to win another championship, can it happen like that, or will it have to be in a more traditional way?
RR-That Cup run was magical. I don’t think the Kings or any other team will be able to replicate that route to the Cup again. Taking out the top three seeds in your conference, which included the President’s Trophy winner, winning so many games on the road and doing it all as the eighth seed is nuts. If the Kings want to win another championship they will definitely have to do it in a more conventional way. The Kings have been so good at home over the last couple of seasons, grabbing home ice advantage would be great some how would be great. So a division championship or a top four finish would put the Kings in a great spot to kick things off.
4.Will we see an even greater offensive output from Slava Voynov next season?
RR-I sure hope so. Voynov recorded 25 points last season, that’s five more points than the previous season and he did it in six fewer games. Imagine that total in a full 82-game schedule. His point production carried over into the playoffs as well, where he scored six goals and recorded 13 points in 18 games which is great. It is interesting how it worked out last season, Voynov kind of developed into an offensive defenseman and Doughty took a step back and played more of a defensively responsible role for the team. People said this was Voynov’s break out season, but I feel he is going to put up big numbers next year and that will officially be his welcome party.
5 BU-What will the added “depth” of Dan Carcillo do for the Kings’ roster next year?
RR-Personally, I like the addition of Carcillo. A lot of people are moaning and groaning about how he is not a talented player, I think they need to get over that and accept Carcillo for the type of player he is. Carcillo is the definition of grit, and although the Kings are a big tough team to play against they don’t have that pest player on their roster. I expect him to play in around 40 games and having him to plug into the roster occasionally should prove very beneficial for the Kings.
6 BU-Will Carcillo really be a better fit than Dustin Penner?
RR-It won’t be hard for Carcillo to be more productive than Penner that is for sure. Penner only scored 11 goals in 117 regular season games with the Kings. I’m not saying Carcillo is an offensive workhorse or anything but Lombardi filled Penner’s spot and did it at a reasonable price. That was the big thing this offseason. Lombardi had a decent amount of work to do with very little cash, so whether or not Carcillo fits we will find out. But this move is a win due to the circumstances surrounding the situation.
7. BU-Do you have any concerns that if Jonathan Quick is the USA goalie it could have an ill effect on the 2nd half of the season/playoffs
RR-I am not as afraid that it will have an ill affect on Quick in the sense he is tired or over played as I am afraid of him possibly getting injured while in Russia. Quick can take a heavy workload and is a pretty durable goalie; he has been that way for the Kings for a while now. He should be able to handle a few extra games in Sochi and still be successful when he returns to the NHL.
8. BU-What did the Kings learn from their Western Conference defeat from the Blackhawks?
RR-I think the loss to the Blackhawks, I know all the Blackhawk Up readers are probably smiling now, and last season’s entire playoff run brought the Kings and their fans back down to Earth. The Kings’ Stanley Cup run in 2012 was special, being up 3-0 in every series, not losing a game on the road until the final round and ultimately going 16-4 to win the Cup is crazy. I think that run kind of spoiled the Kings and their fan base. Now with last season’s run we should all realize we have what it takes to compete and win, but we should not expect things to come as easy as they did when we won the Cup.
9. BU-Which Kings player do you expect to have a breakout season this coming year?
RR-That has to be Tyler Toffoli. Toffoli was called up late last season and played in ten regular season games with the Kings and was apart of the roster during the playoffs. He fit right in on a line with Carter. I expect him to put up some pretty good numbers with the chance at a full season with the big club.
10.BU- What do you think of Vancouver joining your division and is this a rivalry in the making?
RR-The drama between these two teams has really caught some steam over the past couple years. Kings players have even commented that the Canucks are one of those teams that you just don’t like. Most of it stems from recent playoff matchups. Opening the playoffs against them in 2010 and 2012, has definitely planted some seeds for a possible rivalry. Now with the Canucks and Kings in the same divisions the likelihood of that catching and evolving into something more is very high.
11.BU- Is there a dark horse in your division you are worried about?
RR-The Edmonton Oilers would have to be the dark horse in the Pacific Division. They have some very talented players on their team; I mean who wouldn’t with those consecutive first overall selections in the draft. If they can find some defense I wouldn’t doubt them surprising some teams. But that is a very big if.
12. BU-What is your 2013-2014 expectation for the Kings?
RR-Anything short of the playoffs would be considered a disappointment for the Kings at this point and I think there is no way they miss the playoffs. It will be interesting to see if they challenge for the division title. I think it will be a race between them and the Canucks for the top spot in the Pacific. I expect the Kings to be a powerhouse in the Western Conference and will make another deep playoff run, a run that sets up maybe another Kings versus Blackhawks Conference Final, and maybe a little revenge.
What do you expect from the LA Kings this coming season? Thanks to Eric Roberts for the time and if you are looking for LA Kings coverage stop by Rink Royalty!
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