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
When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.
With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).
As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.
Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.
You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.
Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.
“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?
Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.
Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.
It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.
Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.
On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?
It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?
* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.
If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.
The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.
After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.
If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.
Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.
If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:
“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”
The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.
Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:
With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.
Measuring stick stretch begins
Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.
This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.
It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.
In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.