Barely one calendar year ago, the Los Angeles Kings put together a brilliant and dominant postseason run that saw them grab their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. They were able to do what a lot of recent champions have not in the last few years, and progress deep into the postseason in their title defense.
It’s the fact that they were able to go as far as they did in the playoffs that makes them just as large of a threat to capture a Cup as they were in their season as the reigning champs. The Kings reached the Western Conference Finals, despite the fact that two of their biggest stars went missing for a good chunk of the playoffs, in Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar.
The Kings still boast one of the better cores anywhere on the planet. In addition to the likes of Kopitar, one of the top two-way players in the game, and Brown, they also sport the likes of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter up front, in addition to young talent like Tyler Toffoli.
On the blue line, the Kings are as deep as anyone in the league. Drew Doughty is a perennial Norris Trophy candidate, and Slava Voynov is on his way to becoming a star. They did lose Rob Scuderi, but there’s more than enough veteran leadership, as well as younger guys who are able to make an impact, such as Jake Muzzin.
Then there’s the matter of that gentleman between the pipes. Jonathan Quick is coming off of a down year, but there are plenty of factors that could have contributed to that. All signs point to him returning to his elite form and once again being mentioned in league with the best netminders on the planet.
The Kings have the core group in place, right in there with the very best teams in the game. They have the depth, both up front and on the blue line. They have the elite goaltending. This team is as primed as any, and regardless of what Chicago may or may not have accomplished last year, the Kings could still be the team to beat in the Western Conference as we approach 2013-14.