Aug 1, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The defending champion Los Angeles Kings.
After decades of NHL existence without managing to win it all, the Los Angeles Kings managed that feat in two of the last three seasons. At this moment, it seems like hockey fans are witnessing a battle for supremacy between the Kings and their conference rivals the Chicago Blackhawks (both locked up with two recent titles).
In stark contrast to the 2012 Stanley Cup run in which they lost four playoff games and never faced elimination, the Kings found themselves fighting for their postseason lives with great frequency. To put it in the simplest terms, Los Angeles went from an 0-3 deficit against the San Jose Sharks to winning the Stanley Cup with a dramatic Alec Martinez overtime goal against the New York Rangers … and it rarely looked easy.
Much like in 2011-12, the Kings didn’t win their division, although qualifying for the postseason was much more comfortable this time around.
Once again, the Kings were a dominant puck possession team that opted to add a significant (if often-criticized) sniper during the trade deadline to put them over the top. Much like Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik really helped to push the Kings over the top, especially when it came to the postseason.
Still, the core players are still what drive this Kings team. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty both made strong cases for Conn Smythe victories and other individual awards. Justin Williams finally received some mainstream attention by winning that playoff MVP. Dustin Brown was his typically cantankerous self. Jonathan Quick‘s 2014 postseason was as polarizing as his 2012 work was exalted, yet the bottom line is that the American goalie is already a two-time champion.
The scary thing for opponents is that the Kings’ best players remain in their prime years and the team didn’t deal with much in the way of turnover this offseason. In a way, the potential improvement of Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson might seem like an “upgrade” in itself.
(Re-signing Gaborik certainly doesn’t hurt matters, aside from the worries about his fragility.)
The biggest move might have been one that wasn’t made, actually, as GM Dean Lombardi opted against buying out Mike Richards. It will be interesting to see if people look back at that move as one that hinders future Carter/Gaborik-type tweaks or if it was a wise retention of a center who was once deemed elite.
While winning another Stanley Cup deprived them of a high first-rounder, the Kings stockpiled 10 selections in the 2014 NHL Draft, so it was a pretty promising summer overall for L.A.
Dec 26, 2014, 2:30 PM EST
Connor McDavid headlines a loaded host side that hasn’t won gold since 2009.
Dec 26, 2014, 1:28 PM EST
Dec 26, 2014, 12:43 PM EST
New Jersey off to a disappointing 12-17-7 start. The coach pays the price.
Dec 26, 2014, 12:34 PM EST
Brandon Sutter cleared.
Dec 26, 2014, 11:59 AM EST
Put Matt Duchene on the list of supporters.
Dec 26, 2014, 11:17 AM EST
“That was something that wore on guys.”
Dec 26, 2014, 10:20 AM EST
He already grabbed the franchise’ assists mark in that category.
Dec 26, 2014, 9:39 AM EST
They picked him over Eric Comrie.
Dec 26, 2014, 8:31 AM EST
Boxing Day links.
Dec 25, 2014, 10:00 PM EST
The waters are being tested with a ticket drive.
Dec 25, 2014, 9:00 PM EST
Sidney Crosby and Corey Perry are just two of the players that have been inflicted by the NHL outbreak.
Dec 25, 2014, 8:00 PM EST
And the NHL’s swift, significant response.
Dec 25, 2014, 7:00 PM EST
2014 was another painful year, but was it also one of progress?
Dec 25, 2014, 6:00 PM EST
The perfect storm that led to a shocking trade deadline captains swap between two teams looking to make serious playoff runs.
Dec 25, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
A major letdown in Sochi, followed by the Caps missing the playoffs.
Dec 25, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
One of the best performances in international hockey history.
Dec 25, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
Hockey mourned the loss of two of its most respected individuals.
Dec 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
It wasn’t the reason he was fired, but it sure was memorable.
Dec 25, 2014, 1:00 PM EST
After 22 years, the Finnish Flash called it a day.
Dec 25, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
From down 0-3 to winning it all.
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