The Los Angeles Kings: A Resurgence on the Horizon
It’s been a while since the Los Angeles Kings were in the spotlight. Almost a decade has passed since their last Stanley Cup victory, and their playoff performances haven’t been much to write home about either. For years, they struggled, putting forth lackluster teams that were hardly worth staying up late to watch for fans outside of California. However, this season, the Kings are showing signs of a remarkable turnaround.
Currently, the Kings possess the best points-percentage in the Western Conference, with the third-best overall in the NHL. The team’s metrics suggest that they are even better than their impressive record indicates. There’s a sense of something brewing on Figueroa St., and it’s catching the attention of hockey enthusiasts.
One of the most significant factors contributing to the Kings’ resurgence is their exceptional center-depth. With the addition of Pierre-Luc Dubois, acquired at a high cost, and his impressive performance in silver and black, the Kings now have a center trio that is unmatched in the league. Anze Kopitar, Phillip Danault, and Dubois provide a formidable presence down the middle, setting the stage for success in many areas of the game.
Kopitar, despite not being the same force he once was, remains a dominant player. He starts most of his shifts outside the offensive zone but consistently ends up in scoring positions. Paired with Adrian Kempe, who has been quietly productive over the past two seasons, and the emerging Quinton Byfield, the Kings possess a top line that can cause problems for any opponent.
Danault, known for his defensive prowess, adds to the Kings’ center depth. He excels in shutting down opposing players while also contributing offensively. Teaming up with Kevin Fiala, who shares the team lead in points with Kempe, Danault brings stability and versatility to the lineup.
Defensively, Drew Doughty is leading the charge. Playing like his Norris Trophy-winning days, Doughty and partner Mikey Anderson have been instrumental in driving the play. Matt Roy and Vladislav Gavrikov, benefiting from Doughty and Anderson’s work, form a reliable second pairing.
In goal, Cam Talbot is experiencing a revival. With a .919 save percentage and the fourth-best goals-saved-above-expected mark in the league, Talbot has been a key component of the Kings’ success. Though he struggled under a heavy workload in Edmonton, Talbot has found stability as a backup or 1B goalie in recent seasons. However, with Pheonix Copley struggling as a backup, the Kings may need to address their goaltending situation moving forward.
Overall, the Kings boast the best expected-goals percentage and the second-best Corsi-percentage in the league, only behind the Carolina Hurricanes. Additionally, their penalty kill has been exceptional, with Talbot shining between the pipes. While some regression is expected, the Kings’ strong even-strength play should help mitigate any potential setbacks.
Looking ahead, the Pacific Division appears weak beyond the Kings and the Vegas Golden Knights. The Kings have already managed to secure three out of four possible points against the Knights. With the addition of another winger and some reinforcements in the crease, the Kings could emerge as a legitimate contender. Head coach Todd McClellan’s high-pressure system ensures that the Kings will continue to create more scoring opportunities than their opponents.
Unfortunately for the rest of the league, this means we may be hearing a lot of Cartman’s screams from the scoreboard come spring. The Kings’ resurgence is a cause for joy among their fans, and it’s a story worth following as the season progresses.