After raising its 2013-14 championship banner in their home opener and losing their first two games, the L.A. Kings decided it was time to get to work. Five straight wins and the Kings are near the top of the standings.
Great Start for Kings
It’s early in the season but already the Kings seem to be on a mission to have a better regular season than in the past. After coming out flat in their season opener against San Jose at Staples Center, the Kings lost 3-2 in overtime in Arizona. Then there were two easy victories, 4-1 over Winnipeg and 6-1 over Edmonton. Goaltender Jonathan Quick looked in mid-season form with a 1-0 shutout against St. Louis, a close 2-1 victory over Minnesota and a 2-0 shutout over Buffalo. This latest shutout, his 33rd, passes All-Star goaltender Rogie Vachon on the all-time list for the Kings.
The 70’s line of youngsters Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson along with veteran Jeff Carter have been dominant registering 23 points and a solid +25 between them in the first seven games. The Kings always lacked scoring punch in the past but that is no longer the case. Fans can look forward to having right winger Marian Gaborik for a full season. He and Kings’ all-star centerman Anze Kopitar had great chemistry during the Kings run to the Stanley Cup last spring.
Pearson for Calder
Few people have mentioned Pearson as an eligible candidate for the Calder Trophy for best rookie of the year. He would become only the fourth player, and the first King, to win a Stanley Cup before winning the Calder Trophy. Two goaltenders have pulled this feat before, Tony Esposito and Ken Dryden. Both goaltenders won the cup with Montreal but Esposito won the Calder after being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. Forward Danny Grant did the same as Esposito winning in Montreal before earning the Calder with the Minnesota North Stars. All three men pulled this rare trick in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. In an era of parity, it would be an amazing feat if Pearson pulls it off this season.
Defenseman Jake Muzzin is set to join the team after suffering an upper body injury and missing the first six games of the season. The Kings are full steam ahead this season as the reigning champs.
The Voynov Situation
The big dilemma involves defenseman Slava Voynov, who was suspended by the NHL after being arrested for domestic violence. Voynov’s lawyer, Craig Renetsky, said on Oct. 22 that his client has not been charged and is innocent due to the fact it was a misunderstanding with Voynov’s girlfriend, who has difficulty speaking English, being injured during an accident, not domestic violence. Voynov’s suspension could last awhile as he is not due back in court until Dec. 1. Voynov continues to be paid during his suspension and his salary counts against the Kings’ cap.
Mario now covers the Los Angeles Kings and writes other hockey features. He is an experienced journalist who has covered sports and entertainment in daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and online, including thedigitalbits.com/columns/inside-cinema. He is also the co-creator of The Gaffoos, www.gaffoos.com