The Dodgers are done and USC sucks, so what is an L.A. man to do? Work? Pfft. Spend time with his kids? Nah. Watch soccer? Haha, nope. I know; let's watch the Kings! They're young and good and hockey's awesome, so everyone should watch! GO KINGS GO!!!
...Sorry, I'm a little pumped for the season.
Now, I know what most of you are thinking: "Hey Rudy, I'm not possibly cool enough to watch hockey! I don't know anything about the Kings! And seriously, I'm not cool. At all." Don't worry, nerd, that's why I'm here. I'm here to give you the scoop on what you need to know to be hip when the Kings are the talk of the town next May. Here are four people to watch for as the season kicks off on Saturday. Read on and finally be able to sit at the cool kids' table for lunch!
1) Anze Kopitar
He's big, he's fast, he looks like a raccoon: he's Anze Kopitar! The Kings' top center and face of the franchise is looking to continue his ascent up the NHL scoring charts and finally crack a point per game pace over a season. Kopitar was leading the league in scoring through November last season but a dismal December dropped him back to 17th in scoring with 81 points. Kopitar needs to continue to develop his play without the puck in order to be considered one of the top forwards in the NHL, but he has the tools to do it. This season will hopefully see him fulfill his potential and crack the top 10.
2) Willie Mitchell & Drew Doughty
Not only is Drew Doughty amazing and a Norris-caliber defenseman at the tender age of 21, and not only is Willie Mitchell a sturdy rock of a defenseman that will allow Doughty to jump into the offense more, but they also make a cool buddy cop team. Imagine a film starring a grizzled by-the-book veteran with a dark history (in this case, a history of concussions) and a young, brash hotshot with a knack for getting himself in (and out of) trouble. I'd watch that. They're like the 2010 version of Tango & Cash. Doughty and Mitchell will pair up at even-strength and then each command a special teams unit: Doughty runs the power play, Mitchell runs the penalty kill. They're going to be the bedrock on which the Kings' chances are built. Hopefully things won't get FUBAR.
3) Wayne "Meat Train" Simmonds
Anze Kopitar is the face of the team, captain Dustin Brown is the head, Drew Doughty is the engine, but Wayne Simmonds is the heart. Meat Train is going into his 3rd season on the team: in the 1st, he established himself as an NHLer; in the 2nd, he became one of the better young defensive forwards in the league. This season, Simmonds will help comprise one of the best shutdown lines in the league, along with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Michal Handzus. Simmonds was 2nd on the team in even-strength points per 60 minutes and actually led the team in even-strength points despite playing less than 15 minutes a game. That last number will hopefully grow and Simmonds can continue to grow into a Selke-caliber forward.
4) Jonathans Bernier & Quick
Jonathan Quick is young and good. Jonathan Bernier is younger and better. The Kings recently re-upped Bernier for another two years, giving them both Bernier and Quick in net for at least the next 3 years. During that time they will battle for the goaltending position while fans clamor for one or the other. There will be dry spells and hot streaks and in the end one goaltender will either be traded or will sign with someone else and everyone will complain. It's going to be fun, though, because while all that is going on they will be playing excellent hockey. Go Jonathan(s)!
The Kings should be a lot of fun to watch this season. They're going to be tough, talented and should make the playoffs this season. Most importantly, they have an average age of about 25.5 and are one of the youngest teams in the league. The Kings are like the Dodgers if they were competently run: Brown is Andre Ethier, Kopitar is Matt Kemp, Johnson & Doughty are Chad Billingsley & Clayton Kershaw, etc. It should be fun, so watch!
Ryan Smyth (34) - Anze Kopitar (23) - Dustin Brown (25)
Brad Richardson (25) - Jarret Stoll (28) - Justin Williams (29)
Alexei Ponikarovsky (30) - Michal Handzus (33) - Wayne Simmonds (22)
Kyle Clifford (19) - Brayden Schenn (19) - Kevin Westgarth (26)
Trevor Lewis (23), Scott Parse (26)
Willie Mitchell (33) - Drew Doughty (20)
Rob Scuderi (31) - Jack Johnson (23)
Davis Drewiske (25) / Peter Harrold (27) - Jake Muzzin (21)
Jonathan Quick (24)
Jonathan Bernier (22)