Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Los Angeles Kings.
After stunning people with their dominant play in the 2012 playoffs after finishing the regular season with the eighth seed, the Los Angeles Kings went into 2013 with the goal of becoming the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 to successfully defend the Stanley Cup.
In the salary cap era, repeating is an extraordinarily difficult task and their quest was further complicated by the loss of defensemen Willie Mitchell and, for most of the season, Matt Greene.
Those injuries left a serious hole in their blueline, but it also created an opportunity for 24-year-old Jake Muzzin and he largely took advantage of that. The Kings provided themselves with further relief at the trade deadline by acquiring Robyn Regehr from the Buffalo Sabres.
Los Angeles finished with the fifth seed and Jonathan Quick posted an unimpressive 2.45 GAA and .902 save percentage in 37 games. However, Quick was able to step up in the playoffs and led the Kings all the way to the Western Conference Final before they were eliminated by the Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks.
The Los Angeles Kings went into the summer in a difficult cap situation, which made trading restricted free agent goaltender Jonathan Bernier arguably a necessity.
They found a willing partner in the Toronto Maple Leafs, who provided them with a capable replacement backup goaltender in Ben Scrivens and a promising forward in Matt Frattin. Just as importantly, Toronto was willing to retain $500,000 of the players cap hit, which means Scrivens and Frattin come with a combined hit of roughly $1 million for the Kings.
They were also able to retain the services of defensemen Robyn Regehr and Keaton Ellerby as well as forward Kyle Clifford. However, they ultimately let free agent blueliner Rob Scuderi return to Pittsburgh.
Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series
By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.
You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.
Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.
Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.
The bad news is that Artem Anisimov seems likely to miss all – or at least most – of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks with his lower-body injury.
The good? Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville believes that Anisimov will be ready once the playoffs swing into motion, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.
Anisimov was hurt when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Alex Radulov on March 14:
The Blackhawks have been filling Anisimov’s typical spot alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin with Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz lately. There have been flashes of brilliance with Schmaltz, but Chicago would probably feel most confident with Anisimov back in his familiar place.
Chicago’s Central lead is pretty secure over the Minnesota Wild at the moment, which likely reduces motivation to rush Anisimov back before he’s truly ready. The Blackhawks close out their regular season on April 8, so there’s still time for him to heal up.
The Anaheim Ducks are flying high – er, waddling with some swagger? – right now thanks to Jonathan Bernier‘s somewhat shocking turnaround, but the pending return of John Gibson is promising.
(Especially since the Ducks will likely want him to shake off some rust before the playoffs begin.)
While it’s not clear if he’s exactly 100 percent healthy just yet, the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth back to the AHL is a strong sign that Gibson is close.
Enroth actually never got a shot to start for the Ducks, as his last NHL appearance came on Nov. 30, closing off his ill-fated run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Considering that Enroth was once a fairly hot commodity as at least a promising backup, it will be interesting to see how his 2017-18 season pans out. Will he get more or less of a chance than he received this season?
Bernier, meanwhile, is richly rewarding the Ducks for sticking with him.
He’s provided them with a Vezina-caliber March: 9-1-1, 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with one shutout. You almost wonder if there’s at least some potential for a goalie controversy if Gibson stumbles whenever he gets back into action … but hey, having two good goalies to choose from is better than none.
(Which was the scenario that must have scared the Ducks when Gibson got hurt in the first place.)
The Tampa Bay Lightning almost certainly haven’t faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a game this important since the two teams were vying for a Stanley Cup.
While the Blackhawks have already punched their ticket to the postseason and are merely trying to pad their lead in the Central Division, the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives. At the moment, they rank three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the East. With a game in hand, they can make up a lot of ground tonight.
With all of that in mind, it should be an entertaining contest. You can check it out on NBCSN, watch online or via the NBC Sports App.
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