The Los Angeles Kings haven’t exactly put all of their
eggs in one basket but they made a clear-cut statement when they traded for
center Mike Richards: "We’re ready to compete for a Stanley Cup".
They’ve been building their roster slowly, internally,
watching their youngsters grow. Now they’ve added a centerpiece that has the
experience to show them the way.
The Kings have always had the blue line and the
goaltender to win a cup, but now that they’ve added Richards, Dustin Penner and
Simon Gagne over the last six months, they should have the offense to match.
If you like dark horse value plays, the Kings could be a
good one as they are just below the cusp of Cup frontrunners.
What they’ve got:
Pretty much everything.
The Kings tied for fifth in goals against last season,
allowing just 198 goals. Led by goaltender Jonathan Quick, who finished fifth
in the NHL with a 2.24 GAA, along with a versatile blue line comprised of
youngsters Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson, the Kings have a stellar back end.
The front end – and the scoring – have always come into
The Kings tried to address that by acquiring Penner at
the 2011 NHL trade deadline, but that didn’t go as planned. There was too much
of a burden on Penner and too little time to adjust – particularly after
leading scoring Anze Kopitar was lost for the season.
But Penner has rededicated himself in the offseason after general manager Dean Lombardi openly
criticized him and he has already trimmed off 10 pounds. Along with a healthy
Kopitar, the additions of Richards and Gagne, the Kings should be in much
better shape offensively. With Dustin Brown, Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll.
What was once an area of weakness for the Kings, they should now be able to roll two good, decent scoring lines and a pesky third line for support.
If this unit can gel and the defensive part of the time
keeps up their solid play, the Kings will improve on their seventh-seed result
in the Western Conference.
What they need:
A better power play.
It goes hand-in-hand with the Kings need for more
scoring, but Los Angeles converted on just 16.2% of their power play
opportunities. Only three of the 16 other playoff teams had a lower percentage.
Aside from the scoring, the Kings have to find a way to
be more consistent. That may be a very general point of analysis, but take a
look at some of their streaks from the 2010-11 season: Starting October 28,
they won six straight, then lost seven of eight, then won nine of 12, then lost
10 of 12, then won eight of their next 10.
What is it that plagues this team to swing from one end of
the spectrum to the other? The Kings did have a fairly young squad last season
and hopefully after adding a year of experience, they will find a level of consistency.
While the Kings have a complete roster than can compete
for a Stanley Cup, they aren’t among the top tier of contenders according to
the odds makers. At +1400, they are in the second tier of teams but if they
develop some good chemistry, address their scoring woes and grow as a team,
they could emerge from that group as one of the better value plays.