3 story lines to keep in mind as the Kings look to defend their crown come April
The Los Angeles Kings put the hammer down on the hapless Edmonton Oilers 5-2 Tuesday night as they continue their roller-coaster ride towards a crack at the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Considering how last season played out, perhaps it’s not important how long it takes the Kings to clinch a postseason berth. But these Kings seem to be streaking up one week and down the next.
Here’s three story-lines to keep an eye out with 19 games remaining.
Marian Gaborik was immediately brought into the fold last season after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He stayed at Jeff Carter’s home from day one and was credited with putting “a spring in their (Kings) step” by GM Dean Lombardi and his special assistant Jack Ferreira upon his arrival.
Sekera (top right) needs to receive the same love if this trade is going to benefit the Kings’ short term goals (a third Stanley Cup). He may not be a media darling, but Sekera is respected by GM’s and players around the league and will be a high priority off-season signing for Lombardi because of the first-round pick price tag.
2) Can the Calgary Flames keep up with the playoff intensity that’s already arrived?
Oddly enough LA’s crosstown rival has been a tremendous help in this area. the Anaheim Ducks have doused the Flames to the tune of a 4-0-1 record with another match-up on the horizon. However, getting beat down by the Pacific Division’s guaranteed number one seed isn’t shocking.
What is however is the Flames’ management, appearing to have little faith in their hunt for the playoffs.
Calgary shipped out AHL’s Sven Baertschi and 32-year-old Curtis Glencross for future draft picks and brought in no one to help with the playoff push. This is clearly a team looking toward next season which could spell doom for their chances of fending off the battle-tested Kings.
3) Will the stifling defense keep up the surge when the offense flatlines?
The Kings finished 26th in goals per game last year. Their offense was seen as the weak link and was deemed as a reason they couldn’t win their second cup (which they did anyway with an offensive explosion come postseason).
With Sekera in the fold now, the Kings have another workhorse alongside Drew Doughty (left). Sekera averaged about 23 minutes per game for the Carolina Hurricanes,
It’s the most beaten-down, overused cliche out there in sports, but it has to be brought up for the Kings.
Defense wins championships.
It’s a tired saying but it’s true in every way.
Momentum and confidence play an integral role too. Just ask the three Western Conference game seven home teams that watched last year’s Stanley Cup Final from their couches (San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago) courtesy of Los Angeles.