Can The Kings Have A Good Follow-Up Season?
By Patrick Hoffman
After missing the playoffs in 2016-17, the Los Angeles Kings responded with a great season last year.
The team finished the season with 98 points, was the league's 12th best team, and the players that needed to play well did. The only problem was that they got swept by the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the playoffs despite playing pretty well in the series.
The club has an opportunity to make the playoffs for the second straight year as they will have much of the same team coming back. For this team, it starts with the play of captain Anze Kopitar.
Last season, Kopitar, 31, was a beast. He finished the year with 66 points, was a +24, played in all situations and was exactly the leader the team needed him to be.
The rest of the club's offense is pretty solid. Guys like Dustin Brown (19 goals and 28 assists for 47 points), Jeff Carter (39 goals and 35 assists for 74 points), Adrian Kempe (16 goals and 21 assists for 37 points) should be in good position to have another good season this year to help this team's offense.
Speaking of offense, the team went out and signed Ilya Kovalchuk. At 35 years of age, it will be interesting to see how much offense he can contribute. With that said, he can still skate, still has soft hands, and can still put the puck in the net. That's all you need, right?
Defensively, the Kings are led by Drew Doughty. Doughty showed his commitment to the franchise this offseason when he and the team agreed to an eight-year, $88 million contract extension through the 2026-27 season.
Doughty's been one of the league's top defensemen for a long time now. The NHL Network actually had him ranked as the second best dman behind Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.
After Doughty, the team's defensive corps is rounded out by guys like Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Dion Phaneuf, and a few youngsters. They were stingy last season so they should be able to do much of the same this year.
When it comes to this team's goaltending, Jonathan Quick is the man. He was terrific last season as he went 33-28-3 with a 2.50 GAA, a .921 save percentage, and five shutouts.
If you can imagine, Quick was even better in the playoffs. Yes, his team got swept in four games, but it certainly wasn't his fault as he posted a 1.55 GAA and a .947 save percentage.
They may play in an incredibly competitive Pacific Division, but with the roster they have and John Stevens behind the bench, they should find a way to sneak into the postseason come April.
Patrick currently covers the NHL here as well as for WTP Sports.
Has previously 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.