Hot start continues for LA Kings
The 2017 offseason for the Los Angeles Kings was full of changes. After leading the LA Kings to their first two Stanley Cups, head coach Daryl Sutter and GM Dave Lombardi were fired after LA missed the playoffs. In their places were long-time assistant coach John Stevens, who was the head coach, and Kings legend Rob Blake, who was named GM. The change already looks to be paying dividends. The LA Kings are notorious for starting seasons very slow. In 2012, the Kings became the first team to win the cup as a No. 8 seed and needed all 82 games to sneak into the playoffs.
Under new leadership, the Kings are off to their best start this century. For the first time since 2002, the LA Kings started 2-0. Through 10 games this season they have a record of 8-1-1 and an early lead in the Pacific Division.
One year removed from a season to forget, the change in coaching seems to be the difference. Captain Anze Kopitar had his worst offensive season in his career last year, and coupled with the loss of superstar goalie Jonathan Quick, the Kings were destined to fail.
This season has produced a resurgence for Kopitar. He is leading the team with 12 points (7 goals-5 assists). The other resurgence is from former captain Dustin Brown. Two years ago he was stripped of his captaincy and placed on the trading block. His mega salary made a trade impossible, so he was reduced to the fourth line under Daryl Sutter. However, current coach John Stevens has brought Brown back into the top two lines and he is rewarding Stevens’ faith with 11 points (5G-6A) in the team’s first 10 games.
The veterans are also joined by top rookie Adrian Kempe who is off to a great start as well. He’s already recorded a hat-trick and has an impressive 9 points (6G-3A). Add in the dynamic defensive duo of Drew Doughty (3G-5A) and Jake Muzzin (2G-7A) and the LA Kings look like early season contenders for the Western Conference.
All of this is all well and good, but it doesn’t matter unless your best player is healthy. For the Los Angeles Kings, that player is G Jonathan Quick. Last night in Montreal was his 500th career game, and fittingly he recorded his 46th career shutout (a record for American born goalies).
The Kings’ hot start is great news for fans who know this nucleus of talent can make a run at another Stanley Cup.