Jan 18, 2013, 1:38 PM EDT
Every day until the season starts we’ll explore an intriguing storyline for the upcoming year.
It’s been 15 years since a team repeated as Stanley Cup champions.
Will that streak be snapped?
That’s the big question in Los Angeles as the Kings prepare for their title defense. After one of the most dominant playoff runs in recent memory — 16-4 over four rounds, 11 wins in the first 12 games — there are expectations for a Hollywood-style sequel.
And so there should be.
On paper, there’s plenty to like. The Kings return all the stars from last year’s team — Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter — and nearly the entire roster.
(The lone notable subtraction being Kevin Westgarth, an enforcer that didn’t dress in the postseason.)
The Kings also figure to be a more gelled group this year.
For all the success LA had in the postseason, its regular season was pretty disjointed. Head coach Terry Murray was replaced by Darryl Sutter midway through the year, giving Sutter just 49 regular season games at the helm. Doughty missed time to injury, as did Richards. Carter, acquired at the trade deadline, only played 16 games before the playoffs began.
Which is why talk of the Kings repeating is so intriguing.
One could say Los Angeles is in great shape to be the first repeat champion since Detroit in 1997-98.
— The lockout afforded LA three extra months of rest, nullifying the Cup hangover.
— The Kings will get a full season with Carter and Dwight King, who accounted for 23 percent of LA’s playoff goals. (Important, considering LA finished 29th in goalscoring a year ago.)
— LA gets a healthy Simon Gagne, who only played 34 regular season and four playoff games.
Of course, there are counterarguments to be raised.
Some will point to Los Angeles catching a lot of breaks — and lightning in a bottle — en route to the Cup.
The Kings beat a Vancouver team missing former Hart Trophy nominee, Daniel Sedin, for the first part of the series. Then they dispatched of a Blues team without its No. 1 goalie, Jaroslav Halak, and a banged-up No. 1 defenseman in Alex Pietrangelo.
In the Western Conference final, they drew the upstart Phoenix Coyotes, a team that had never advanced past the opening round.
In the Stanley Cup final, they drew the East’s No. 6 seed — New Jersey — a team nobody expected to be there.
There’s also the history of Cup winners stumbling to defend the crown.
Both the 2011 champs (Bruins) and 2010 champs (Blackhawks) were dumped in the opening playoff round the year after winning it all.
And in the last lockout-shortened season (1995), the defending Cup champion Rangers squeaked in as the No. 8 seed before being swept by Philly in the second round.
The belief within the Kings organization, though, is that what this group did last spring was the start of something special.
Just ask general manager Dean Lombardi.
“There’s no doubt in my mind about these players after what they did in the playoffs,” Lombardi said. “It made me have a newfound appreciation for all of these guys. There’s no doubt they’re going to build on it. So much of this season is mental, and they’ve got the mental toughness to do it.
“It’s not about recapturing that feeling from last season. It’s about writing a new story.”
May 3, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT
He’s working nicely with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
May 3, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Both were at least some risk of missing Game 2.
May 3, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT
Still zero goals and just three assists for the star sniper.
May 3, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT
Blackhawks fans probably remember him.
May 3, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT
Brandon Saad: “We have to regroup, refocus and get the job done.”
May 3, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT
It’s unclear if this is injury-related.
May 3, 2015, 9:36 AM EDT
Three games for a pretty busy Sunday.
May 3, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
Yeah, it was quite a goal from No. 8.
May 2, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
Didn’t waste time getting on the board in Game 2.
May 2, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
But it doesn’t sound like there will be a dramatic, sudden return.
May 2, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
“You only have one life, enjoy it.”
May 2, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT
Without a goal in this post-season.
May 2, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT
Minnesota almost completed the comeback in Game 1.
May 2, 2015, 5:43 PM EDT
“Since the voting period began, we’ve received an astounding 20.4 million votes…”
May 2, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT
The Caps were out-shot 15-4 and out-scored 2-0 in the opening 20.
May 2, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
Lundqvist made 30 saves as New York edged Washington 3-2 in Game 2.
May 2, 2015, 3:07 PM EDT
The highlight-reel goal pulls the Caps to within one.
May 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
He suffered a lower body injury on Friday.
May 2, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Paperwork filed for environmental study.
May 2, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT
One of four first period saves made by the Rangers’ starter.
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight 9
- Rangers hang on, even series with Caps 55
- Video: Ovechkin splits ‘D’, scores while falling 31
- Flames’ Gaudreau wasn’t happy with benching in Game 1 2
- Video: Blackhawks hold off Wild to take series lead 23
- Video: Therrien fuming after Bolts appear offside before OT winner 46
- Video: Lightning bolt to series lead on Kucherov’s double OT winner 14
- WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action 8
- Report: BOG to vote on Vegas expansion in September 1
- Vigneault: ‘Standards have been set’ after Ovechkin, Backstrom hits 102
- Niklas Kronwall suspended for Game 7 vs. Tampa Bay (116)
- Vigneault: ‘Standards have been set’ after Ovechkin, Backstrom hits (102)
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappointment as Wild advance (99)
- Friedman: Penguins need to ‘think about’ trading Malkin (89)
- Report: Developers file intent to build arena in Seattle suburb (81)