By PowerPlayCJ @powerplaywithcj on July 7, 2014
When the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup after winning three seven-game series, the rest of the NHL, particularly the Western Conference, took note. With their eyes on dethroning the champs, several Western Conference powerhouses made moves that help make their intention of beating L.A. a reality. Teams not only addressed weaknesses exposed by the Kings, but also sought to take advantage of what they perceive to be the Kings’ weakness.
The Kings vanquished the Blues in the playoffs in 2012 and 2013 and St. Louis’ lack of a No. 1 center was a big reason for both Los Angeles victories. Adding the adept playmaker who built up an amazing resume in Colorado will give the Blues a new look when they inevitably faceoff against the Kings once again.
For all of Anaheim’s strengths, not having a rough and tumble defenseman with mobility was one of their Achilles Heels during their series loss to the Kings. Adding the former Wild blueliner gives them a more stable net front presence that makes it easier for the Ducks goalies. This move was one of several the Ducks made with the intentions of knocking off their Southern California rivals.
It was feast or famine for the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals; when Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were scoring the team was rolling, when they weren’t, not so much. Adding Richards will surely give the Hawks another weapon and more depth to combat the elite teams in the West, namely the Kings.
Adding Clayton Stoner was a start, but the Ducks’ biggest move this offseason was trading for the former Vancouver center. Having Kesler behind superstar Ryan Getzlaf solidifies the team in a number of ways as his expertise on special teams coupled with his unique two-way game improves the Ducks. Anaheim will surely have Kesler out against Anze Kopitar to disrupt the skilled Slovenian in ways no Duck could in their series loss.
While not a transaction yet, suffice is to say the Sharks’ center wouldn’t be on the trading block (allegedly) if San Jose hadn’t blown the 3-0 series lead over the Kings. Thornton’s playoff struggles dating back to his days in Boston are well known and were evident yet again. The rumors about No. 19 leaving NorCal will be hovering over the NHL for the duration of the offseason.
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