As summer comes to an end and we move towards the 2015-16 regular season, many similarities between the Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins have surfaced.
Both Los Angeles and Boston have been among the elite franchises in recent history. In the past five years, both teams have hoisted the Stanley Cup, the Bruins in 2011 and the Kings in 2012 and 2014. Over that span of hockey, Boston has posted a record of 218-114-44, and Los Angeles grabbed a 199-128-49 record.
But despite each team’s recent success in both the regular and post season they suffered the same fate at the conclusion of last season. Both teams missed the playoffs, the Bruins for the first time since the 2007 playoffs and the Kings for the first time since the 2009 playoffs.
Now with the regular season just over a month away, both franchises are looking to rebound. Much like their recent history, both Boston and Los Angeles find themselves in a very similar boat as they try to right the ship for next season.
Making Up For Big Losses
The Kings and Bruins were victim to big names skipping town this summer. However, one team was more of a victim and the other may have brought most of the damage upon themselves.
First, the victim. Los Angeles said goodbye to Justin Williams, Andrej Sekara, Martin Jones, Jarret Stoll, and Mike Richards. Outside of Sekara and Jones, those are all players that played integral parts in both of the Kings’ Stanley Cup championships (Jones was only around for the second Cup, which he also played a big role in).
Unfortunately for the Kings, most of their losses came with no return. Williams, Stoll and Sekera all left as free agents and Richards and the Kings are in a sticky situation with his contract being terminated by the club. That’s four players gone with no return.
Former Kings backup goalie, and now apparent San Jose starter, Jones is a perfect segway from Los Angeles to Boston. This year’s draft day was a wacky day for the Bruins. They were involved in a trade that sent Milan Lucic to Los Angeles for the aforementioned Jones and the number 13 pick in the draft. Before the Lucic and Jones trade, Boston traded defenseman Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for three draft picks.
At the end of the day, the Bruins were out Lucic, Hamilton and Jones, who they traded to San Jose for a 2016 first round pick, and ended up picking at numbers 13, 14, and 15 that day. Lucic was a big, both figuratively and literally, presence on the ice for the Bruins. While some thought Hamilton was the future in Boston. Now both will be wearing different sweaters next season.
Both Boston and Los Angeles will have some roles to fill come training camp.
Mixing Up The Defense
Defense used to be the Kings and Bruins’ bread and butter. In some ways it still is, in the sense both teams stress defense first and offense later, but both teams will have some work to do on the back-end before next season in order to regain the dominance they once had.
After not being able to come to terms on a new contract with Hamilton, Boston shipped him away. Hamilton played in 178 games, recorded 22 goals and 83 points, and grabbed a plus-23 rating in three seasons with the Bruins.
Although Sekera’s time with Los Angeles was much shorter in comparison, the Kings being able to retain him would have saved Los Angeles a lot of trouble. Sekera was grabbed at the deadline last season in many ways as a solution to Slava Voynov’s absence. But Sekera suffered a broken leg and only suited up in 16 games for the Kings, before walking via free agency.
The departure of one of the league’s most promising defensemen in Hamilton and a player that was supposed to be a solution in Sekera, will cause a ripple effect across both the Bruins and Kings’ blue lines. Who will step up?
Do They Rebound?
From the very start, the similarities have been the focus of this post. Now it’s time to separate the two. When it comes to the Kings and the Bruins, one team should rebound and be in the mix next post season while one will likely be left on the outside looking in for the second straight year.
The Kings will qualify for the playoffs next season and the Bruins will not. Ironically enough, what separates Los Angeles and Boston is similar questions that the Kings have answers too and the Bruins do not.
The Kings finished number 20 in the league last season with 220 goals for, while the Bruins were not far behind in the number 23 spot with 213 goals. The Kings should benefit from having Tanner Pearson back for a full season with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli, with Toffoli set to have a break out year. Los Angeles actually took offense away from Boston when they acquired Lucic. Add Lucic to a number one line with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, and shift Dustin Brown to a more suitable third line role and the Kings’ offense should be much better next season.
In net, both Boston and Los Angeles have world-class talent in Tuukka Rask and Jonathan Quick respectively. But one team has a distinguished back up and the other does not. Los Angeles went out and grabbed Jhonas Enroth after trading away Jones. While Boston, after ironically trading away Jones as well, looks to be sticking with untested prospects like Malcolm Subban.
Having a goalie that can step in and give your starter a night of rest and still give your team a chance to win could mean you qualifying for the playoffs or missing the cut by a game or two. As a seven-year veteran, Enroth has the experience as a back up while the Bruins will have to wait and see.
Come this time next year, scribes across the league should be writing about the Kings rebound to Cup contending form and how the Bruins missed the cut again.