And they're off! The sprint is on—48-game season here we come.
While the game may have been a bit lackluster for the defending champs, most analysts are still predicting a big season for Los Angeles. With names like Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty starting almost every night, how could you not?
Here are some predictions for the L.A. Kings' top players in this shortened NHL season.
Despite playing only 56 games last season with the Kings, Slava Voynov was ninth on the team in scoring and third among defensemen. Not to mention, it was the 23-year-old's rookie season in the NHL.
Honestly, though, you could expect a little bit of a sophomore slump from the Russian. He struggled at times in the playoffs in the big moments and he looked a little shaky in Game 1 of the 2013 season.
No one will underestimate the young defenseman this year, and as a result you may only see about 10-12 points from Voynov. He's still a man to watch out for in special teams situations, but his even-strength numbers might take a hit.
Also, Voynov's stalwart defensive partner, Willie Mitchell, has been on the mend for almost nine weeks now with knee problems. That could affect his plus-minus numbers, which last season stood at plus-12.
Bottom line: Between 10-12 points, no higher than a plus-three on the year.
Jarret Stoll had a down year last year. With only six goals Stoll set a new career low, and with 21 points he tied his worst ever season (Edmonton, 2003-04, 21-point rookie season).
It's hard to think Stoll could play any worse. The biggest thing to consider with Jarret Stoll for 2013 is that he now has consistent linemates—and linemates he did well with in the postseason.
The center was paired up with Trevor Lewis and Dwight King during part of the playoffs before Dustin Penner stepped in, and the three had good success. The combination of size and speed gave the line a solid presence in the offensive zone.
Chances will come for this line, and Stoll could be the catalyst with his aggressive play and big faceoffs. Look for a bounce back from the veteran.
Bottom line: around 20 points, at least 10 assists. Plus-minus around plus-10.
The grandfather and second-highest scoring defenseman on the roster last season for the Kings might have a bit of a struggle with the 2013 season.
Mitchell, who turns 36 in April, is showing some signs of aging with his recent injury setback and recovery. While his calm demeanor and responsible game paid big dividends for the Kings last season, it will be tough for Mitchell to get up to speed quickly this year.
He's skated sparingly for the last month-and-a-half or so, and it will be hard for him to match the quality of his career best 24-point season in 2012-13. It's a sprint to the finish, and Mitchell isn't going to be completely match-fit and up to speed—both physically and mentally—for maybe another month.
Bottom line: between six to 10 points. Plus-minus near or around even.
Carter came to the Kings last season at the trade deadline and played just 16 games with the team during the regular season. He had a modest nine points during that stretch, but also recorded 13 points during a 20-game playoff run.
It's hard to gauge how Carter will do because he is such a hot-and-cold sort of player. His scoring tends to come in bunches more frequently then in a consistent streak.
However, 2013 holds a different sort of feeling for Carter. He is on a new team to start the year, with success already written into his history with that team. The pressure might be off of the 28-year-old a little bit.
Carter is going to be a big fixture for the Kings this season. Expect him to play well.
Bottom line: around 35 points, at least 15 goals. Plus-minus around plus-five.
Drew Doughty is another player who statistically had a rough year in 2011-12. His 36 points and minus-two rating fell well short of expectations.
But those days are behind him.
He's a Cup champion now, and he renewed the fans' warm feelings toward him with a phenomenal 2012 postseason performance.
Much like Carter, the pressure might be off of Doughty a little bit. He can play with a well-earned swagger in 2013. He had a very spirited and solid performance against Chicago in the season opener despite the team's loss.
He's healthy, he's focused and he should be one of the top defensemen in the league this year.
Bottom line: at least 30 points, at least 10 goals. Plus-minus rating over plus-10.
Can you see a trend for the Kings players? Down 2011-12, pressure off a bit in 2013, reap the benefits.
Richards will fit the trend as well.
However, don't expect a massive turnaround from Richards. He is still trying to find his role and excel in it in Los Angeles. His 2011-2012 season saw him net just 44 points, which is less than many were expecting.
His Saturday performance against Chicago was forgettable as well, as he was completely dominated in the head-to-head matchup with the Hawks captain Jonathan Toews.
All things considered, Richards will have a better 2013. It won't be Richards circa 2009, but it will be better.
Bottom line: Around 30 points, at least 20 assists. Plus-minus rating around plus-10
One thing you can count on with Dustin Brown is consistency.
He's always played the same style game since coming in the league, and he's always put up between 50-60 points.
It's hard to bet against Brown getting around 25-30 points in a season nearly cut in half. He's going to attract a little more attention from opposing players this year, but odds are that won't bother the 28-year-old captain.
Bottom line: 25-30 points, no less than a plus-10 rating.
Justin Williams has definitely rekindled his game in Los Angeles.
Over the last two seasons Williams has been a consistent, almost guaranteed 20-goal, 30-assist player. His workmanlike attitude, which is similar to the identity of the Kings squad, shouldn't be any different despite playing 48 rather than 82.
He looked a little sluggish on Saturday's opener, but once Anze Kopitar returns to the lineup, expect Justin Williams to be the same old Justin Williams.
Bottom line: 25-30 points, at least 20 assists. Plus-minus around plus-10.
The Slovenian had a huge postseason and was one of the first skaters over to Europe when the lockout hit. He's been skating, playing and staying up to speed. Kopitar should be able to step into play with the team pretty seamlessly.
With the confidence of a great postseason, and a more complete and threatening roster behind him, Kopitar could score at a point-per-game pace.
Bottom line: 45-50 points; 25 goals, 25 assists possible. At least a plus-minus rating of plus-15.
The nice thing about predicting goaltending stats for a shortened season is that it's relatively the same as predicting for a full season.
There are a couple of things with Quick. He is healthy, which apparently he hadn't been since February of last season. He's also confident, perhaps more confident then he has ever been. That's what a Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup can do though.
The Kings had a terrible defensive effort on Saturday, but soon as they get up to speed it will be a different story. Quick should have a good year behind one of the league's best defenses yet again.
He's even been an early candidate by some analysts for the Vezina trophy (via Sports Illustrated).
Quick will have another solid year.
Bottom line: Save percentage around .925, GAA near 2.00, at least 20 wins.