The 2013 season is five games old, and the defending champion Los Angeles Kings are 2-2-1.
By no means has the team been convincing in its performances thus far, and the Kings seem to be struggling with a lot of the same things that they struggled with prior to the postseason last year.
Granted, a 2-2-1 record is not bad. The offense is starting to come around, but the team is still teetering on underachievement and the whispers of "hangover" are still traversing the league.
What are some keys for the team to avoid the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover?
The pressure is on for the Kings. Every time they lose more than three games in a row, the league is going to be talking about it.
Winning the Cup can do that. It puts the team under a microscope. As much as the players say they don't pay attention to the media, these things can quickly snowball. Especially if the team is on a bad run and all they hear on the NHL Network and TSN is, "What is wrong with the defending champs?"
I don't think anyone expects them to win 10 games in a row or anything, but it would be best if they could avoid longer slumps. Added pressure and added expectations really can start to weigh on you when the losses start piling up.
The Kings offense, circa 2011-12 regular season, was a frustrating and enigmatic thing to behold.
With so many talented players, how on earth could they score so little? How could the power play be so bad?
Then the playoffs happened, and all was forgotten and good in the world of the Kings offense. However, it's 2013 now, and the Los Angeles offense is rekindling the form of last season's anemic offense.
Few players are stepping up, and the ones that need to be stepping up aren't. While Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford and Anze Kopitar are carrying the offense, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty have remained relatively silent.
To remain above the talk of "Stanley Cup hangover," everyone—just like in the playoffs—is going to have to chip in offensively. Scoring by committee is what got them far in the postseason, and it's what will get them far in the regular season as well.
It would be huge if the Kings could look up at the 24-game mark and see themselves in a playoff position.
Obviously, the team will want to get better (unless they are in first), but being in a playoff position with just a 24-game sprint left will do wonders for the Kings' confidence.
Anything less then that, and they will be having to battle themselves, the media and the opponent likely every night. Although they had success with what happened last season, surely they don't want to repeat backing into the playoffs and clinching on the last day by virtue of an opponent's loss.