Rant Sports NHL 30 in 30: Los Angeles Kings Preview

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The Los Angeles Kings remained under the radar for the majority of the season.  The Kings played just average during the first few couple months with a 15-14-4 record and were sitting in 10th in the Western Conference.  On December 12th they decided to make a change and head coach Terry Murray was relieved of his duties.

A few days later, Darryl Sutter took control of the struggling Kings and made slight improvements.  The Kings offense was still struggling and finished the season with the 2nd fewest goals for, however the brilliant goaltending of Jonathon Quick and strong defensive play of the Kings allowed them to sneak in wins.

With the Kings still struggling around the deadline, Dean Lombardi and the Kings staff knew something needed to be done.  On February 24th, the Kings made a huge trade by sending defenseman Jack Johnson and a 1st round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for scoring winger Jeff Carter.  While many saw this move as a risk, the Kings had to do something to jump start their scoring.  After this trade, the Kings seemed to generate a spark and went 13-5-3 in their last 21 games which was enough to propel them into the playoffs as the 8th seed.

With the Kings looking as underdogs against a strong 1st place Vancouver Canucks team in the first round of the playoffs, the Kings shocked the hockey world as they trounced the Canucks 4-1 in the series.  The Kings then faced the St. Louis Blues in the conference semifinals and the Kings kept their momentum going with a sweep over the 2nd place Blues.

After this series, the Kings made it clear that they may be the best team in the playoffs.  In the conference finals, the Kings took another 4-1 series win over the 3rd place Phoenix CoyotesThe Kings finally made it to the Stanley Cup Finals against a strong New Jersey Devils team, but again the Kings offense continued to score and their defense and goaltending continued to be strong as they won the Stanley Cup in a 4-2 series over the Devils.

Quick earned the MVP of the playoffs  and the Kings had one of the most dominant runs in NHL playoff history by going 16-4 in the playoffs with 10 straight road wins.  They never were down or even tied once a playoff series got underway.  It was a franchise year for the Kings as they won their first ever Stanley Cup in franchise history and became one of the best 8th seed playoff teams in sports history.

Offseason Additions:

The Stanley Cup winning Kings knew their team found chemistry and rather than going after any big names, they decided to resign a few people.  Dustin Penner, Dwight King, Jarrett Stoll, and Colin Fraser were all resigned by the Kings.  The Kings also added ex-Blues coach Davis Payne alongside Sutter as Assistant Head Coach.

One more offseason name that was added to the roster was 2012 1st round pick for the Kings Tanner Pearson.  Pearson went undrafted in the previous 2 drafts, but stepped up his play and was taken in the first round and 30th overall by the Kings.  Pearson will most likely spend most of his time with the Manchester Monarchs.  Pearson has the skill to take 2nd line duties in the future, but must prove that he is still developing.

Offseason Subtrations:

The Kings were able to keep mostly everybody except for Scott Parse who was a scratch for most of the season. The Kings will have almost the exact same lineup as their 2012 Stanley Cup winning roster.

Key Players:

The player who carried the Kings into the playoffs and to a Stanley Cup was no doubt Jonathan Quick.  He led the NHL with 10 shutouts and allowed the Kings to win those low scoring games.  He also was spectacular in the playoffs and there was no question to why he earned the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP.  Quick was resigned to a big 10 year $58 million contract and deserved all of it from this season.

Player Under the Radar: 

A player that went under the radar last year, but may surprise everyone this year is Dwight King.  King played mostly on the 3rd and 4th line and at only 23, he is still developing his play.  King was able to collect 14 points in just 27 games, but was a serious player in the postseason.  During the playoffs he had 8 points in 20 games and 2 of his 5 goals were game winners.  If King continues this play he will help push the Kings to a better regular season finish and possibly another Stanley Cup postseason run.

2012-2013 Season Preview:

As we all know, the lockout is consuming much of the regular season, but lets talk about what happens if they do save the season.  The Kings have the exact same lineup as their Stanley Cup winning team and have possibly gotten better with their postseason experience and growing chemistry between lines.

If Quick can recover and be 100%, then he can continue his dominant play and lead the Kings to another good playoff run.  The Kings have improved scoring with Carter and Penner finding their scoring touch, and their defense has become stronger with Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov stepping up their play.  I believe the Kings have a great chance to repeat a Stanley Cup win this season.

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