FanSided’s 30 In 30 NHL Previews: Los Angeles Kings

Center Anze Kopitar looks to help lead the Kings on a long Stanley Cup playoffs run; hopefully, we see no sign of the injury that ended his season last year (Image courtesy The Five Hole Hockey)

Now only four days until it’s our turn for a season preview; that’s right, a Devils’ outlook is coming on Saturday!  For now, it’s the Los Angeles Kings’ turn, who lost a disappointing first round series to the Sharks last season.  This year, with a few new additions to the roster and a team that continues to mature, the Kings will seek a lengthy Stanley Cup playoff run.  Over at Rink Royalty, Gavin Humes previews what he believes should be an exciting season in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Kings head into this coming season with high expectations. In fact, this season is the first in quite a while where the Kings and their fans are perfectly justified in their optimism. Last season’s strong performances were derailed in the playoffs when they encountered a San  Jose Sharks team looking to shed their “choker” label, and without their star forward, Anze Kopitar, lost to a brutal injury near the end of the season. Despite the loss, and the fact that the Kings ran into a strong San Jose team, they performed quite well, and converting on an important power play near the end of Game 6 might have turned the entire series on its head.

This season is a whole new story. What do we have to look forward to in Los Angeles? Let’s consider what 2011-2012 has in store for the Kings:

To read the rest of this Kings’ preview, click here.

Our Devils play an oddly-timed two games with the Kings this season; I say this because, well, not only do they play each other twice, but both matchups are in October.  The first of these, on October 13th at the Prudential Center, is the Devils’ first game against a Western Conference opponent.  The second of these matchups is in Los Angeles, just twelve days after the previous meeting, on October 25th.  The last time the ‘Devs traveled to Los Angeles, Zach Parise was lost for almost all of the season (warning; this video may be graphic, at least, for Devils’ fans who love Zach as much as I do).

Now for a brief outlook of the 2011-2012 Kings.  Los Angeles looks very, very strong up front, with star center Mike Richards and wingers Simon Gagne and Ethan Moreau joining an already talented squad.  However, I am not crazy regarding their latter line depth, as their third and fourth lines may not provide very much production this season.  Defensively, the Kings are solid, with the likes of Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson and alternate captain Matt Greene leading their blue line corps.  In goal, Jonathan Quick figures to get the majority of the starts; Los Angeles also has a terrific backup, at the moment, in young Jonathan Bernier (who I would hope Lou inquires about in the future), who should see his fair share of playing time as well.

Overall, this Kings’ team is extremely talented offensively, defensively, and in goal.   With a good mix of veterans and youngsters, Los Angeles should be better prepared for the playoffs this time around, as I would predict that they easily make it in once again this season.  My one concern is the aforementioned forward depth issue; hopefully their latter lines do enough backchecking to be effective, at least, in some regard.  While I do not expect a run at the Stanley Cup, the Kings have the potential to win a series or two, and will be looking to do so in a very strong conference.

Tomorrow’s preview will discuss the Minnesota Wild, who look to improve on an 86-point campaign and potentially challenge for a playoff spot.

-Drew

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