Jan 18, 2013, 1:38 PM EST
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.”
Jan 28, 2015, 12:15 AM EST
He’s going to need some dental work.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:45 PM EST
Philly erased an early 2-0 deficit to earn two points.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:15 PM EST
Carolina is now 7-1-2 in January.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:45 PM EST
Both players are unrestricted free agents after this season.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:15 PM EST
Okposo missed his first game due to an upper body injury.
Jan 27, 2015, 9:30 PM EST
Received a major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding.
Jan 27, 2015, 9:00 PM EST
Happened during the first period tonight in Philly.
Jan 27, 2015, 8:30 PM EST
The 19-year-old underwent hip surgery in November.
Jan 27, 2015, 8:05 PM EST
The Philly starter allowed two goals on the first four shots.
Jan 27, 2015, 7:35 PM EST
Jim Benning was “exploring” a trade for the goaltender.
Jan 27, 2015, 7:00 PM EST
Appeared in 1,260 games.
Jan 27, 2015, 6:30 PM EST
Tampa has won both meetings between the two clubs this season.
Jan 27, 2015, 5:41 PM EST
7:30 p.m. ET, from PNC Arena, on NBCSN.
Jan 27, 2015, 5:06 PM EST
“There’s a potential even to bring him to Arizona for at least a cup of coffee at the end of the year.”
Jan 27, 2015, 4:26 PM EST
For the old barn in Anaheim.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:33 PM EST
He’ll play on the top line with John Tavares and Josh Bailey against the Rangers.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:11 PM EST
Kick off six straight games at Rogers Arena tonight versus Anaheim.
Goalie nods: Greiss starts for Pens, which has nothing to do with Fleury getting lit up at the All-Star Game
Jan 27, 2015, 2:27 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Jan 27, 2015, 2:20 PM EST
“We know what the standings look like. That’s no secret. But we can’t make up all those points this week.”
Jan 27, 2015, 1:38 PM EST
We already knew he tried to use Seattle for the same purpose.
- Martin Brodeur to retire, become Blues asst. GM (Updated) 40
- Mike Richards clears waivers 32
- Game on: Islanders-Rangers to be played despite storm 15
- Flyers’ Rinaldo suspended eight games for his hit on Letang 56
- Isles’ rise to be tested as they lose Okposo for 6-8 weeks 16
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards 123
- Bobrovsky out 4-6 weeks, Jackets recall goalie Forsberg 3
- Blue Jackets proud as Columbus shows it’s a hockey town 24
- From contract dispute to All-Star MVP, Johansen’s had quite the year 17
- Marc-Andre Fleury would like to remind the Columbus crowd that the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets in the playoffs 33
- Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’ (130)
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards (123)
- Report: Flyers’ Rinaldo waives right to an in-person hearing (61)
- Video: NHL offers Flyers’ Rinaldo in-person hearing (57)
- Flyers’ Rinaldo suspended eight games for his hit on Letang (56)