Chicago, IL –In this installment I will be looking at the second team that resides in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference – The LA Kings. Los Angeles is where one can get enhanced thoroughly. Be it with silicone, liposuction or facelift. You can make yourself almost unrecognizable if you want. Like the city where they play, this team has gone through a few nip tucks and Botox injections themselves. The 2011 team will look significantly different from the 2010 team. Have they done enough to land a leading role in the spring blockbuster known as the Stanley Cup Finals? Well let’s take a closer look.
The LA Kings have not played the Blackhawks in the playoffs and in fact have only made the playoffs themselves the past two seasons. Both times they were bounced in the Quarterfinals by the Canucks and the Sharks. In the regular season the Blackhawks have dominated the Kings. Over the past three seasons they have taken the series to a tune of 9-3 and one of the Kings’ three wins was a SO.1 The Hawks have had the Kings number, but that is all in the past as mentioned this is a different team. Will the results be any different for LA?
LA has written their script and did some serious editing in the off-season most notably were the additions of Flyer captain Mike Richards and former Flyer Simone Gagne. Mike Richards brings to LA 25-30 goals a year and at 26 yrs old he should be staring at the Staples Center for sometime. Simone Gagne had 40 points last year with the Tampa Bay Lightening, but his season was cut short due to injury. Seven times Gagne has been a 20+ goal scorer. 2 Much needed offence is what was injected into this team as it was their flaw in 2010 despite having a dynamic Center in Anze Kopitar. Kopitar also had ankle injury which cut his season short. The Kings ranked 25th overall on offence in 2010 and had a absolutely horrible power play that ranked 21st in the league. The additions of Richards and Gagne should address their lack of firepower of last year but will they be enough.
The LA Kings were stellar on defense with the 7th overall defense and 4th ranked PK in the league. 3 The Kings were solid in the nets as well with their all star Goalie Jonathan Quick with his .912 SV % and 2.39 GAA. Where the drama in LA’s script comes into play is with their leading man on defense Drew Doughty who is a RFA and as of this moment and is holding out. He did not report to training camp on Friday.4 Where would a good drama be without some twists and Doughty’s holdout could definitely change the course of the Kings season. Now that the Kings have addressed their offensive woes they can not afford for their defense to well, go to hell. What was it Bette Davis said in All about Eve “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night”. 5
The Kings have positioned themselves to take a walk down the red carpet this spring. Still somehow or another with or without Doughty, and with the additions of Gagne and Richards and a healthy Kopitar, I still do not see the LA Kings with enough fire power to overtake the Hawks. We will get our first glimpse of the 2011 version between these two teams Thanksgiving weekend.
Granted Kopitar and Richards are as solid as you can get down the middle at center; let us not forget the Blackhawks are supposedly weak at center. Yes I said weak. Hard to believe with Toews & Sharp at center. When Dave Bolland is your third line center, somehow I don’t think anyone will be feeling too sorry for our Blackhawks. Ultimately, I see the Blackhawks besting the Kings leaving them to supporting roles rather than a leading role. Especially once the playoffs start.
Hollywood is all about glitz, glamour and illusion. The LA Kings have the glitz and glamour now. What they need to show is that they are not just an illusion but the real deal. I think they are one year away and lack a little depth especially if Doughty holds out, which could prove to be a distraction for the entire team. Like Hollywood, egos could potentially be a problem for this team.
Like any great movie script we have our protagonist and our antagonist. How the story ends remains concealed for now, but part of the entertainment is watching the script play out on-screen or in this case on-ice. Like the film industry, the NHL has its trophy as well. Cinema offers the little gold man statue called Oscar and the NHL offers the silver cup AKA the Stanley Cup. To obtain either of these is a rare accomplishment that few on this earth will ever achieve. It is something these two teams have in common. They both will be striving for the very same thing in 2011 to obtain the same elusive prize.
The Chicago Blackhawks having won the Stanley Cup recently and know what it takes to win one. The Kings do not know the grind and determination it takes. We will see if that makes a difference. As a Blackhawks fan, I hope it is the Hawks that walk away with another cup. If they do it will have been hard earned, and a testament to the entire Blackhawks organization for bringing in the correct supporting cast of players. If they can keep the stars and balance the role players it could be a special screenplay in the works.
If the Hawks can dominate the Western Conference teams, and make a return trip to the Stanley Cup Finals they will surely deserve it as an organization, coaches and players. As a great Hollywooder once said on her night of crowning glory “God bless that potential that we all have for making anything possible if we think we deserve it. I deserve this.” ~Shirley MacLaine
1 game records were taken from Chicago Blackhawks website – http://www.chicagoblackhawks.com
2 taken from NHL website www. NHL.com
3. taken from The Hockey News Yearbook
4. taken from LA Kings website. http://www.LAKings.com
5. taken from 1950 20th Century Fox film – All About Eve- Bette Davis character Margo Channing