Let’s look at the advantages: the Los Angeles Kings had among the best defenses in the NHL last year and made the playoffs. The poor? The team is filled with dead-weight contracts that have obliterated their thickness and they have easily bumped from the first round of the playoffs.
Despite the negatives, you will be hard-pressed to locate a better core nucleus on a group with Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick. Kopitar is the reigning Selke Trophy winner and Doughty is coming off an excellent 2015-16 season that saw him win the Norris Trophy.
The question remains: can the Kings’ low-scoring, defensive-minded play hide their issues with depth and lead them to the next deep playoff run?
Stanley Cup +1800
It seems like a distant memory, but LA hoisted the cup in the 2013-14 season. The team then followed up that performance by not making the playoffs the following season and a miserable first-round ousting the season after.
The crux of the Kings is battle-tested and more than able to hold its own in a Stanley Cup series, however, how the rest of the group fares is difficult to predict. And heaven forbid the very best players on the group hit a scoring slump in the playoffs since relying upon the bottom-six forwards for offense is guaranteed to doom LA.. That is not to say they can’t create a run based on incredible defense along with a red-hot goalie in Quick.
Western Conference +750
The Western Conference is loaded with teams. The perennially contending Chicago Blackhawks still seem like the course of the summit but there are still emerging powerhouses in St. Louis and Anaheim. In order for the Kings to win the Western Conference for the third time in six seasons, they need to have the ability to beat these three groups.
The Kings combined for a middling 5-4-2 record from the Blackhawks, Blues and Kings last year. In fact, one of those 3 teams, LA’s only winning album was contrary to the Blackhawks.
Pacific Division +225
Though the Kings have won two Stanley Cups in the previous five seasons, they’ve not won a Pacific Division title. In reality, the only time the Kings finished the regular season atop their division was in 1990-91 when they awakened the Smythe Division. It is very sensible that the Kings can end that drought this year — as they are co-faves with the Ducks — however they need to prevent another crippling slump.
The Kings squandered a 10-point division lead last season to the Ducks after the team imploded to close out the year. LA was 30-16-3 entering the all-star break last season and then faltered to a pedestrian 18-18-3 for the remainder of the season.
The biggest cause of this collapse was that their battles within the branch, as the Kings went only 10-7-0 against the Pacific after the all-star fracture in comparison with 8-4 before. And when you factor in that six of these wins after the break came against Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton, you can be justifiably worried entering this year.
Point Total OVER/UNDER 97.5
In Darryl Sutter’s three full seasons as head coach of the Kings — we are not such as the shortened 2012-13 year — the team has averaged 99 points each season. It is really hard to see that this team regressing too much after submitting 102 points last season, but a small drop may be expected contemplating their Travels near last season.
To be able to surpass the 97.5-point mark, some older gamers will probably should provide scoring. Goal scoring will especially be needed from the wings, as the sole winger to finish with over 40 points last season was Milan Lucic, who signed with Edmonton this offseason.
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