The LA Kings have started the season 3-8-1 and all 3 of their wins came against teams that people projected to be bottom 10 in league standings. The Kings beat Detroit who’s the worst team in the NHL, Montreal who is overachieving, and the Rangers who are in a rebuild. The Kings are averaging 2 goals per game and have a powerplay that is just over 14%.
The main thing that sticks out about the Kings is their lack of Speed. In today’s NHL it is all about speed and skill. The Kings won cups on size and grit and have yet to adjust to the new NHL. It is difficult to be fast when you have a 35 year old Ilya Kovalchuk, a 33 year old Jeff Carter, a 33 year old Dustin Brown (who is injured), Drew Doughty is even 28 and hasn’t even began his 8 year extension. 3 guys are crucial to the Kings, Doughty is one of the games best defensemen and has 8 points in 11 games but the powerplay can be partly blamed on him. The other 2 guys are Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick.
In 2014-15 the Kings made the playoffs and Kopitar had 16 goals. The next year, 25 goals and the Kings made the playoffs. In 2016-17 the Kings missed the playoffs and Anze Kopitar had 12 goals in 76 games. Last year, the Kings made the playoffs and Kopitar had 35 goals in 82 games. See a trend here? I’m well aware Kopitar is more of a playmaker than a scorer but there is something to be said about his up and down numbers throughout the last 4 games and the formula is simple. Kopitar plays well, the Kings make the playoffs, Kopitar has an off year, the Kings miss it. Now I know LA has only played 9 playoff games since winning the Stanley Cup in 2013-14 but Kopitar is the main reason for them playing well. But the struggles are back this year; throughout 12 games Kopitar has 3 goals and 2 assisst. See a trend?
Jonathan Quick is out for at least 6 weeks but does it even matter? In 4 games he has an .845 save percentage. Goalies that have knee surgery on the wrong side of 30? Doesn’t sound too promising. He has been taken over by 2010 USA World Junior Goalie Jack Campbell who I hate cause he ruined my life when they beat Canada in Saskatoon. He also has just 16 games of NHL experience.
The Kings have one of the oldest cores in the NHL all on long term contracts. In 2020-21 the Kings have over $53 million committed to Anze Kopitar, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, Dion Phaneuf, Alec Martinez and Jonathan Quick. The average age of those players? Just under 35 years old.
Good Luck Kings fans. There are tough times ahead and they’re already here.
Anze Kopitar (Carlson/AP)