Coming off a disappointing end to their 2012 season, the Los Angeles Kings open the 2013-2014 NHL Regular Season with a two game road trip that includes visits to Minnesota and Winnipeg to take on two members of the new NHL Central Division, next Thursday and Friday. Following the two game road swing the Kings open at the Staples Center on Monday (October 7) versus the New York Rangers. Kings Vs Rangers Tickets are starting at $35.00 per ticket. The Kings are looking to get back to the Stanley Cup finals after losing in the Western Conference finals last season to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Kings run toward the title in the upcoming season will take place in the re-aligned Pacific Division. The NHL re-aligned the divisions this offseason and the Pacific Division now includes the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
The Kings kept most of the core of their roster this offseason, with a few minor but not drastic changes. The core group of talent, which includes a nice mix of veterans and young talent, remains. The Kings lost Rob Scuderi to Pittsburgh in free agency. The veteran defenseman was a capable and gritty player. Will Mitchell, back from a season long knee injury, is healthy and should mitigate the loss of Scuderi. Up front the Kings lost Dustin Penner, who returned to the Anaheim Ducks in free agency. Winger Matt Frattin, acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Jonathon Bernier trade, will capably replace Penner and in the Kings minds likely produce more consistency.
The key for the Kings remains goaltender Jonathon Quick. The veteran netminder and former Conn Smythe Tropy Award winner is a difference maker between the pipes who sets the tone for the Kings top ten NHL defense. The rest of the Kings defensive unit is anchored at the blue line by Drew Doughty, young star Slava Voynov, youngster Jake Muzzin, Mitchell and Matt Greene. The defenseman crew is a nice mix of offensive talent, youth, and gritty veterans. Upfront the Kings have kept their offensive core together, including Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Jarret Stoll. Frattin, who emerged as a solid two-way player with the Maple Leafs last season, will be matched with Carter and Richards on the Kings first line, a great opportunity for the former Leaf to flourish. Like in the defensive unit the Kings have a talented group of young options up front as well, including Tyler Toffoli who put together a solid late season stretch of play, as well as Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey. Both Pearson and Vey put up solid numbers with the Manchester Monarchs last season.
With Bernier now in Toronto as part of the Frattin trade the big question for the Kings is whether or not Scrivens can provide good minutes as the backup goaltender. The Kings were outclassed by the Blackhawks in the finals after two tough series victories over St. Louis and San Jose. Last year’s condensed NHL season meant a lot of minutes for Quick. With the league back to its full regular season schedule the Kings will need solid minutes from Scrivens to rest Quick. The new Pacific Division will allow the Kings to travel less, but also includes the same tough teams from the former Pacific, as well as the Vancouver and Edmonton. The Canucks remain a talented and veteran team, while the Oilers have the best young talent base in the NHL.By:Chris Michaels