After three shockingly horrible starting games, the Los Angeles Kings found their footing. At the beginning of the season, every Kings fan feared they were in for a disappointing season much like the previous one. The Kings lost their first three games of the season by at least three goals (if not four). However, starts don’t always define the season. The Los Angeles Kings pushed past their start and persevered, as they went on to have a six game win streak. Now, as we’re roughly halfway through the season, we can begin to analyze the successes and losses and, of course, make predictions.
BIG MID SEASON TRADE
On January 6, 2016, Kings’ General Manager Dean Lombardi announced the trade of Jordan Weal in exchange for Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers. Along with Weal, the Flyers acquired a third-round selection in the 2016 NHL draft. This changes loads of things. With the addition of these two players, forward Derek Forbort was reassigned to the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate. In addition, Matt Greene, who has been an asset to the Kings for eight seasons, has been out due to an injury since October of 2015. Luke Schenn appears to be a replacement for Greene.
Lombardi also said Greene out for the year.
— Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) January 6, 2016
The first half of the season saw the first-time appearances of newbies, including Michael Mersch, Jordan Weal, and Derek Forbort. Forbort and Mersch even scored their first NHL goals with the Kings this season. As the first half of the season is behind us, we must look to the second half. Through this trade, the Kings acquired the strength of Vincent Lecavalier, who was the first round draft pick in 1998. This is his final year in the NHL, as he plans to retire at the end of the season.
The Kings were crippled by injuries last season. Between the injuries of Alec Martinez and Tanner Pearson, it is easy to see how the Kings missed the playoffs. This season, however, the team has yet to be weighed down by injuries. Although Matt Greene is currently injured, Dwight King and Jeff Carter have just returned to the lineup to help the team finish the season strong.
WHERE WE RANK
The LA Kings currently rank 1st in the Pacific Division and 3rd in the entire league. A whopping 12 points separate the Kings from 2nd place in the Pacific Division, which is the largest lead the Kings have ever had. The Kings have certainly reaped the benefits of being in a division with struggling teams. If the team continues on this trajectory, the Kings are sure to make the playoffs–and maybe even win the cup.
WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO
Here are the important things to watch out for as we move forward: the Kings’ final games against teams in the Pacific division and Western conference. Teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, Arizona Coyotes, and Calgary Flames will prove to be intense competition in the coming months. But the most important thing for Kings fans to watch out for is the contract extension of Kopitar. Anze Kopitar’s contract expires at the end of this season. Only once the contract is signed can fans be certain that Kopitar will be spending next season in Los Angeles.
Share if you’re as pumped as we are for the rest of this season and, of course, playoff season.