The Kings were able to prove that not every Stanley Cup champion struggles the year after they win it, even though the much longer offseason helped a bit. The Kings made a return to the Western Conference Finals where year, where they were disposed of by the Blackhawks in five games.
The Kings shipped backup goalie Jonathan Bernier to the Maple Leafs for Matt Frattin and Ben Scrivens. They also added defesneman Jeff Schultz via free agency and for some reason gave us a late round draft pick for Daniel Carcillo. The Kings will rely on their strong defensive game and the play of Jonathan Quick as goal scoring will most likely be a concern once again for the Kings. It will be fun to watch the Kings battle it out with their California neighbors, the Ducks and Sharks, along with the Canucks in the newly formed Pacific Division.
Today we chat with Robert from Jewels From The Crown about one of the Hawks' biggest road blocks in the West this year.
The Kings seem to have 145 defenseman on their roster, which is not a bad thing, even with the loss of Rob Scuderi. Do the Kings need a healthy Willie Mitchell or do they have enough on the blue line to survive without him?
I think L.A. will be fine without a healthy Willie Mitchell. A healthy Willie Mitchell would be a luxury item for a defense that is anchored by the likes of Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov. In addition, they are buoyed by Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez. Both of which are young and have been inconsistent yet have racked up some incredible puck possession numbers along the way. Also, if they had to be without Mitchell they wouldn't be lacking in the "veteran presence" department thanks to the likes of Matt Greene and Robyn Regehr.
On the flipside, LW looks pretty bad with the likes of Kyle Clifford, Dwight King, and Daniel Carcillo. How concerned are you about where the Kings will be getting their secondary scoring from this season?
Secondary scoring was a huge problem for the team last season and probably will be an issue again. It should be less of an issue with the addition of Matt Frattin and a full season of Tyler Toffoli. A lot of it will depend on ice time. Last year, Dwight King and Trevor Lewis got more even strength ice time than Mike Richards and Dustin Penner. In order to boost secondary scoring, L.A. will need to try to avoid falling too hard for their grinders.
I personally think Matt Frattin will be a great fit in Los Angeles. Are you happy with the return you received from Toronto in the Jonathan Bernier trade?
Yes, very happy. There was a tinge of disappointment when the trade was announced, but that was mainly due to some crazy rumors which elevated people's expectations about what L.A. might get in return. Frattin will be solid and will fill out the team's depth.
Darryl Sutter is a great coach but he has a track record of wearing out his welcome wherever he goes. We are not at that point in Los Angeles yet, right?
So far so good with Darryl. Obviously, that could change quickly with one disappointing season. My main gripe with Sutter is that the team relies very heavily on dump and chase hockey. You'll rarely see the bottom six carry the puck over the line. In fairness to Darryl, this also seems to be an organizational philosphy, but woof...is it ever hard too watch sometimes.
What exactly happened to Anze Kopitar last year and do you expect a big rebound season this year?
I thought Anze Kopitar had a solid year last season. His offensive numbers sagged a bit, but his defensive game was stellar. He is still one of the more underrated two way forwards in the NHL. I think his numbers suffered due to a knee injury that he sustained while playing in Europe during the lockout. He also suffers from some unrealistic expectations. Kopitar will never be a sniper. He'll consistenly put up about 25 goals and 75 points a year while also being one of the better puck possession forwards in the league.
Is Tyler Toffoli ready to be an everyday NHL player?
Yes. The team will just need to be patient with regard to his defensive shortcomings. The team is more lenient with youngsters who play a more defensive minded or "heavy" game. Guys like Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford have gotten a lot of leeway because they are not expected to score. They just dump the puck in and hit people and are rewarded with
playing time. Thus, they hardly ever mess up too bad because they are hardly ever taking risks. Tyler Toffoli plays a riskier game, but in order for him to be most effective he'll need to know he's not going to get sent down or benched at the drop of a hat.
And finally, do you guys want Jamie Kompon back? Pretty please?
Sorry, no takebacks.
Well you can't blame a guy for trying! Thanks again to Robert for helping us out. The Kings come to two twice during the month of December, on the 15th and again on the 30th. The Blackhawks make their only trip to the City of Angels on February 3rd.