The NHL’s Los Angeles Kings began the 2014-2015 regular season the same way they began the 2013-2014 post season — with a blowout loss to the San Jose Sharks.
With the way history repeats itself so often, this should scare the rest of the NHL.
The Bleacher Report is reporting, and expecting, big things from the Kings this year. Defenseman Drew Doughty, for example, should score at least 55 points to help lead the Kings towards another run at the Stanley Cup.
Look for Doughty to rack up a ton of assists by feeding Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, and Jeff Carter both at equal strength and on the power play.
Doughty is coming off an excellent year with great performances in both the Olympics and postseason. In crunch time, he came up big offensively, and there is no reason he can’t do the same this season.
The key will be playing at least 75 games, earning a good chunk of second assists, and setting up the Kings’ top snipers on the rush.
Another player to keep an eye on is center Tyler Toffoli. He finished eighth on the team last year, with 29 points while playing just 62 games.
Toffoli is a dynamic player. He has good speed, quick hands, an accurate shot, and has developed better vision in the offensive zone, with and without the puck. He must continue to work on going hard to the net and scoring dirty goals in close.
If he plays alongside Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson, as he did in the playoffs, the goals should come in bunches.
CBS Sports reports that for the Kings, the Championship ceremony on opening night was really the only thing that went according to plan.
Tommy Wingels scored two goals, Antti Niemi made 34 saves in his 28th career shutout, and the Sharks crashed the Kings’ Stanley Cup banner celebration with a 4-0 victory in the season opener Wednesday night, seizing the chance to erase a bit of last season’s bad playoff memories.
“It’s been a long summer, thinking about this game,” Wingels said. “When the schedule came out and we saw that this was our first game, the media loved it, the fans loved it, and we as players loved it, too. There’s not a better way for us to start the season, and for us to be able to come in here and have this kind of success, it’s a big win.”
The Kings will try to right the ship when they visit Phoenix to play the host Coyotes on Saturday night. The Sharks will host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.
[Image courtesy of WTV Bam]