Five Questions For The Los Angeles Kings
1. How will the defense fare without Rob Scuderi?
Rob Scuderi left the Kings to finish off his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but not before helping Los Angeles reach new heights as a franchise. Despite his departure, Willie Mitchell will return after missing the entire 2012-2013 campaign with an injury. In addition, young defensemen Slava Voynov and Jake Muzzin proved last season they could hang with the best. It also doesn’t hurt to have Jonathan Quick in net.
2. Does Jonathan Quick need help?
One of the most underrated losses for the Kings was sending backup phenom goalie Jonathon Bernier to the Maple Leafs. People often forget that Bernier had a better winning percentage, goals against average, and save percentage than Quick in the regular season. Another little known fact is that Quick is absolutely abysmal in back-to-back games, with the Kings relying on Bernier to provide rest. Ben Scrivens will be replacing Bernier, which could lead to trouble for LA.
3. Will the Kings be hurt by their lack of additions?
General Manager Dean Lombardi has made it clear that he is confident in the team he currently has. Nearly every player is signed to a multi-year deal and the Kings virtually added no new components this offseason. As other teams continually upgrade, the Kings will have to rely on younger players to continue their improvement in order to stay atop the Western Conference.
4. Who will lead the Kings offensively?
Ever since Jonathon Quick emerged as the best goalie in the NHL, the Kings defense has been amongst the top in the NHL. However, the offense still goes through dry spells, resulting in several 1-0 and 2-1 losses. LA will be looking for more consistency on the offensive end, more specifically on the power play, which struggled in the postseason. Expect Anze Kopitar to look for his shot more and second year man Tyler Toffoli to have a big year. Toffoli will be replacing Dustin Penner on the second line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and should have plenty of chances to light the lamp with most of the defensive focus on his linemates.
5. Can fans expect a bigger year out of Drew Doughty?
Despite his great success, Doughty has fallen off in the past few years as a true defenseman, failing to qualify for a Norris Trophy nomination the past two seasons. Doughty has been an absolute workhorse, averaging 26:24 minutes of ice time last season, which ranks 4th in the league. Doughty has emphasized his focus on off the ice conditioning in order to prepare for the heavy workload. Expect the young star to establish himself as one of the league’s best this season.