We all know how that 2011-2012 season ended for the Kings. They became the first 8-seed to ever win the Stanley Cup. On the way, they knocked off the #1, #2, and #3 seeds in the West, before finally defeating the New Jersey Devils in 6 games. Let’s take a look to see if they can become the first team since the 1997-1998 Detroit Red Wings to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.
Key Additions: None
Key Losses: None
Don’t mess with success must have been what GM Dean Lombardi was thinking. Lombardi decided to retain everybody from the Cup run and made no additions to the team, thinking that this team had enough to go again. I think he’s right. Up front, the Kings have a stable of talented forwards, led by Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards. Complementing them are captain Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, and the resurgent Dustin Penner. Defensively, the Kings system is phenomenal. They are led by perennial Norris Trophy candidate Drew Doughty. Aside from Doughty, the Kings don’t have many big names, but they have players that just know how to play defensively. Finally, their goaltender Jonathan Quick is something else. If he can keep up the play that he demonstrated in the postseason, then look out. In the playoffs last year, Quick had an insane 1.41 GAA and a .946 SV%. He was simply unbeatable. The Kings season will hinge on whether or not he can replicate those numbers.
What To Expect This Season:
In years past, the phenomenon of the “Stanley Cup Hangover” has become commonplace. Teams that win the Stanley Cup have typically started slow the following season. However, I think the Kings will be able to buck that trend because of the lockout. I think the partying ended in the summer and the last few months have been spent getting back into game shape. Therefore, I don’t expect the Kings to be plagued by the usual Stanley Cup hangover. However, I don’t expect them to be as locked in as they were in the playoffs last year. That’s simply not feasible and it’s been so long since that playoff run. You also have to wonder if the hunger is there because every player on this team was a part of the Stanley Cup champion team last year.
Typically when teams repeat or make back-to-back deep runs in the playoffs, something changed in the offseason that allowed them to renew their hunger. The Kings don’t have that this year so it will have to be manufactured from within. Luckily for the Kings, I think this is one of the weaker Pacific Divisions we’ve seen in recent years. The Coyotes won’t be the same, the Sharks are showing their age, the Stars still are a couple pieces away, and the Ducks still haven’t solved their defensive issues. The Kings should easily take this division. I think a full season of having Jeff Carter will improve their offensive numbers from last year and if Quick can keep up his form, their defensive numbers will be the same. That will be a scary combination for the rest of the NHL. I think the Kings will win the Pacific division and finish with the 2nd seed in the West.
Prediction: 29-14-5 – 63 points, #2 seed in the West.