The big question in the NHL’s Pacific Division for the coming season is if the Anaheim Ducks can expand their abilities, enough to overtake the Los Angeles Kings.If you’re looking to stay ahead of the game and see where this season takes your favourite teams, it’s always a good idea to add Northbet on LinkedIn, and expand your networking options and capabilities.
The excitement surrounding the new hockey season is going to involve a lot of questions, but one of them is how Anaheim will deal with the monster known as the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings just don’t die. This team refuses to go away easily. It won the Stanley Cup in 2012. Then, in 2013, it took the Chicago Blackhawks to dispose of L.A. in the Western Conference Finals. Last season, the Kings overcame a 3-0 series deficit against the San Jose Sharks to win their first-round battle and advance to the second round. The Kings became just the fourth NHL team to win a playoff series after falling behind, 3-0. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs (Detroit), the 1975 New York Islanders (Pittsburgh), and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers (Boston) were the other three. The Kings were then in trouble against the Anaheim Ducks in the second round, falling behind 3-2 in the series. Yet, the Kings, in their element when facing their own elimination, won two more do-or-die games to move on to face Chicago. Against the Blackhawks, the Kings switched things up. They took a 3-1 series lead and watched their opponent win two elimination games, one of them in Los Angeles. The Kings had to go to Chicago for a Game 7, and they were outplayed most of the way, trailing in the third period. Yet, a late goal tied the game and sent it into overtime. In the extra period, the Kings got a goal off a deflection to move to the Stanley Cup Final and beat the New York Rangers in double overtime.
Everyone else in the Pacific Division is asking, “How can we land a knockout punch against these Kings?” It’s hard to see how it will happen. Jonathan Quick is one of the NHL’s best goalies, but as good as he is, he struggled against Chicago in the playoffs. He needed his teammates, such as Drew Doughty, Marian Gaborik, Alec Martinez, and playoff goalscorer extraordinaire Justin Williams to carry him against the Blackhawks. The Kings’ depth is their true strength, and this is what Anaheim will be trying to counter.
The Ducks lose Teemu Selanne, who finally retired after what will easily be a Hall of Fame career. Yet, they still have a lot of talent in the wings. Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Saku Koivu, Dany Heatley, Corey Perry – this team is loaded. Goalie, though, with 21-year-old John Gibson in net, could be this team’s undoing over the course of the season.
San Jose lost early in the playoffs yet again last season, but the Sharks didn’t blow up the team, as some had expected. Dan Boyle, Martin Havlat, and Brad Stuart are gone, but Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, and other core members are still there. This team is still talented, but everyone’s waiting to see if San Jose can deliver at playoff time.
After the top three teams from California, it will be hard for others in this division to make the postseason. The Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers will all face an uphill battle to make the postseason, especially since the Central Division of the Western Conference is so deep.