You’re getting a twofer today, as we look to get back on schedule. There’ll be another one somewhere this week. Am I gonna tell you when? Sure won’t!
Ah yes, the other fallen dynasty. The team that made missing the playoffs after being a Cup contender the year before a trendy thing to do. Those Los Angeleans, always setting the trends. The Kings returned to the playoffs last year, except no one knows why. They didn’t want to be there, played like they didn’t want to be there, and were home before anyone noticed anything was amiss by them being there. They got a revival season out of both Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar, which are the only reasons they did anything anyone might notice. And they’ll probably need both to do so again if they’re not going to drown in anonymity behind LeBron and of course, Jimmy Butler (in his own mind).
Let’s take a look at the silver and black, because we honestly might not talk about them ever again.
2017-2018: 45-29-8 98 points 239 GF 209 GA 50.0 CF% 48.0 xGF% 7.8 SH% .930 SV%
Goalies: See that last mark up there? That was fourth-best in the league, and the major reason the Kings were able to come in from the cold, come down from the wire and make the playoffs. Quick had his best season in five last year, with a .921 SV% overall and a .926 at evens. He was certainly helped by a nuclear October where he went for a .942, but he backed that up in February and March with a .928 and .926.
The problem for the Kings is that all of his marks last year were above his career norms, which despite what crusty old white guys tell you have always been just about average. Quick won the Kings the Cup in ’12, this much is so. He was along for the ride in ’14. And he’s been along for the ride most of his career. In a season where he’ll turn 33, it’s probably ok to expect him to return to his career norms, which are just about league-average. And that won’t get it done for this squad.
Looking to back him up is Jack Campbell. You may remember him from such films as “Once Was A US World Junior Goalie” or “Was Gonna Save The Stars Five Years Ago.” It never happened for Campbell, and this could be his first dip into full-time NHL waters. The Kings don’t really have much of a net if Quick either gets hurt or is just some guy. Some guy named Quick.
Defense: After the Leafs threw all the money at John Tavares, there really wasn’t much of anywhere Drew Doughty could threaten to go if the Kings didn’t sign him. So they signed him until he finally goes to prison hopefully, for $11 million a year. Doughty is just about still one of the league’s premier puck-movers, and had his best year points-wise and possession-wise last year. He’s going to have to do it again. Because the rest of this blue line is covered in ants.
Jake Muzzin has always been a product of whatever Doughty could do, which somehow got him a Team Canada spot once upon a time. Alec Martinez is losing his fastball, and spent most of last season getting his head caved in. I don’t know what an Oscar Fantenberg is, but I do know that I don’t have to know what an Oscar Fantenberg is. Do we really need to go over Dion Phaneuf again? If you insist…he’s awful and terrible and slow and bad and stupid and ugly and expensive and slow and bad and did I say stupid already? Yeah, sucks. This team needs to put Kale Clague and his dumb name on the second pairing yesterday, but won’t because the Kings are SO TOUGH AND GRINDY AND YOU EARN IT HERE LOOK AT HOW BIG WE ARE WE EAT STAPLERS HARF HARF HARF.
Forwards: As you probably can guess, I cannot wait for this Ilya Kovalchuk hail mary to go balls-up by January 1st. He’s 35, hasn’t played in this league in years which in the meantime got a whole lot faster and I’m fairly sure he’s here to soak up the sun and cash a check. This is the hockey version of Michael Anthony. Oh sure, he’ll probably still score 30 goals, maybe even more, maybe even a lot more. A majority of them will come when the Kings are already trailing 3-0 late in the 3rd. It’s gonna be fucking special.
Anyway, Kopitar still rips. Jeff Carter does too, when he’s healthy, Which he never is and now he’s gonna turn 34 during the season. They probably expect Dustin Brown to shoot the lights out again. Dustin Brown will return to putting his left skate on his right foot this season. Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli are still here to do whatever it is they do.
The bottom six however…woof. This would lose your entire security deposit. And I think they’re all named Alex. Kyle Clifford? Nate Thompson? Trevor Lewis? Aren’t these all the same guy? Does it matter? I’m sure it does not.
Outlook: There was a brief time, at the beginning of last season, when John Stevens looked to bring the Kings out of the deep, dark cave they had lived in under Darryl Sutter and actually try and play some hockey that wouldn’t be considered narcolepsy. Then he quickly realized they couldn’t do it as well as about half the teams in the league, and they went back to dungeon hockey and hoping Quick could save enough shots and Kopitar could make enough along with Doughty to squeak them by. It worked once. It’s unlikely too again, and this team is not built to deal with a league getting faster and younger.
Most likely Quick has a small regression, Kopitar does too, and there just isn’t enough scoring to eke out the 3-2 wins they used to specialize in. This blue line spends most nights getting tire tracks implanted on it by the likes of Vegas, San Jose, and even Calgary and Edmonton could do a number on them. And given the age of the roster, it could be a long trip into the abyss for them.
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