Have the Kings Returned to Form?
By Patrick Hoffman
It ay be early on in the 2016-17 NHL campaign, but there have been great starts from several clubs thus far.
Teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights and the St. Louis Blues have all gotten off to terrific starts. Each of these teams have been able to put the puck in the net, play good enough defensively to win games, and have been able to overcome injuries by utilizing their depth.
While the above mentioned teams have all played well to start the season, one team has really come out with guns ablazing. That club would be the Los Angeles Kings.
Monday night's game with the Leafs, the Kings find themselves with a 6-0-1 record while sitting atop the Pacific Division. Again, it's still early but with a long road trip in its beginning stages, any points they can accumulate now is going to be huge come the end of the season.
There are a few reasons why the team has been successful so far. It all starts with the play of their now healthy netminder Jonathan Quick. Quick has started six of the seven games the Kings have played and has put up exceptional numbers.
As of this writing, he has a 1.99 goals against average with a .938 save percentage and 1 shutout. He has been able to make timely saves and with being healthy, he has given the Kings confidence to be able take chances offensively because they know he will be there to make the save.
Offensively, the club has had several players step up to the plate. Their captain Anze Kopitar, leads the team with six goals and is tied for the team lead with Dustin Brown (five goals and six assists) with 11 points.
The team has also gotten solid production from the likes of Jake Muzzin (two goals and six assists for eight points), Drew Doughty (three goals and three assists for six points), Tyler Toffoli (two goals and three assists for five points), Michael Cammalleri (two goals and three assists for five points), and Adrian Kempe (three goals and one assist for four points). That's a lot of offense for a team that struggled on that side of the puck last season.
On the back end, the team has been about as good as they have ever been. They currently (as of October 23, 2017) have allowed the least amount of goals and are first in the league in penalty killing.
If the Kings find a way to continue to play with this kid of offense, defense, and goaltending, then there is no reason why they should not be looked at as a Stanley Cup contender come April.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.