Los Angeles Kings 2017-18 early success
If you had said two weeks before the season, “hey I could see this Kings team being good” we all may have laughed at you and discredited your poor hockey knowledge. Well flip the script and laugh at us, well me at least. Coming into the year the Kings were a team I had seen being on the bubble for a playoff spot, with Jonathan Quick back I assumed they would string together more success than last year. Well, as we just wrapped up the first month of play the Kings are one point behind Tampa Bay for the NHL lead and post a 10-2-1 record.
Well, I was wrong. Miserably wrong. After that win over Toronto, the Kings continue to prove why they will be a team in the mix for a playoff run come April. The Kings not only beat Toronto but they toppled them 6-3 last night. Aside from this though, what has been the Kings biggest factor in their early success? Three reasons, Dustin Brown/Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty/depth on defense and Jonathan Quick. Join me as we break this down now…
Dustin Brown/Anze Kopitar
Ok, let’s come clean and say it, these two sucked last year and it showed towards the Kings record(39-35-8), but after Kopitar got the butterflies out of his stomach after being awarded the captain and Dustin Brown stopped mopping about being stripped of the “C”, the two have combined for 28 points, Kopitar 15 points, Brown 13 points. There are five teams that have two players for more combined points than these two. Kopitar has only recorded no points in four games and Brown has not recorded a point in just five games of the thirteen games this year. The two have been on the score sheet in almost every game and have been the forefront of these teams success. Can they keep it up? I think we all agree Kopitar can, I mean besides last year he has consistently tallied around 65-70 points and right now he is on pace to well exceed that. Now, on the other hand, many are saying Brown will fall off, but honestly, I say otherwise. With this teams success Brown has stepped up and when a team is winning guys perform better. Now, Brown has by no means had a hall of fame career but he is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and for six seasons straight he tallied between 50-60 points. Yes, he has had some bad years in recent seasons but you never know when a players career can be resurged but at 33-years-old it is not likely. Anyways, I would not be surprised to see Brown tally 50 points this year, I mean he only needs 35 more through 69 games.
Drew Doughty/depth defense
Drew Doughty just like the two above has been off to a great start, he has 9 points through 13 games and has been the leader on the backend this season. But besides Doughty, players like Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Derek Forbort have played their roles quite well. Last season we saw both Muzzin and Martinez on the wrong side of things, but like I said before when a team wins it raises the game of everyone on the ice, and these guys have done their parts nicely after having less than successful seasons last year. All three, Doughty, Martinez and Muzzin have proven to be top-four defenseman in the NHL and well all these guys are clicking on the back end, it makes it hard for teams to score goals.
The story of the Kings right here, this guy has easily been the MVP and has landed in some early Vezina talk. Last year Quick missed more than half the season and the Kings relied on Petr Budaj to step up and fill a void of an elite goaltender, now by no means did he do poorly but he just wasn’t Jonathan Quick and the Kings could not get the confidence nor, did they have the goal-scoring to be successful last year. But no worries people, Jonathan Quick is back and better than ever. I mean you take a look at this guys numbers(besides last year) from 2013 to 2016, he has consistently won, 35 or more games, posting a goals against(GAA) of 2.07, 2.24, 2.22 over those three years and a save percentage of .915, .918, .918. The fact the Kings have a guy like this in net who has posted numbers of an elite level goaltending is just more of a reason as to why they will be here come April. Anyways this season Quick is off to a “Quick start” (get it?, good one, I know) on the year through 11 starts he has 8 wins, 22 goals against, 1.99 GAA and a .939 save percentage with two shutouts. The man is carrying this team to the playoffs, 100 percent.