The Los Angeles Kings are off to a solid 5-2-1 start to the year, and look like a team that has something to prove.
After two consecutive first-round playoff losses to Vancouver and San Jose the last two seasons, the Kings will look to take the next step this year.
Let’s look at four reasons why the Kings will break through and win the Stanley Cup this year.
If the sixth year pivot hasn’t convinced people he is a star in the NHL, he will by the end of the year.
The Kings' offensive leader and the embodiment of a first-line centre, Anze Kopitar will lead his team to glory. The slick Slovenian has great size, passes well and can score goals with the best of them.
Championship teams nearly always rely on an elite centre, and Kopitar fills the role nicely.
The additions of Mike Richards and Simon Gagne have worked out well early in the season.
Simon Gagne has rediscovered some of the scoring touch that resulted in two 40-goal campaigns for the Philadelphia Flyers.
He has gelled on a line with Kopitar and could turn into the top left-winger the Kings have been missing. That is, if he can stay healthy.
Mike Richards has slid into the second-line centre role, and has been a boost to the Kings’ special teams. That will prove to be a plus in the postseason when special teams are crucial.
Los Angeles has a good mix of players on the roster. The most important quality on a team is skill, and the Kings bring a ton of it with Kopitar, Gagne and Jason Williams, among others.
Richards, Dustin Brown and Willie Mitchell have the grit and leadership skills a team needs to make a deep run.
Add in a good mix of versatile defensemen on the back end, and you have the formula for playoff success.
Teams seldom go anywhere without some solid goaltending.
Jonathan Quick has had to fend off Jonathan Bernier, but he has finally solidified himself as the Kings’ go-to goalie. He’s coming off a couple of great seasons and has not missed a beat so far this year, with three straight shutouts to his name.
Championship teams need goalies who can steal a win or two, and Jonathan Quick is more than capable of doing so.