The center of attention will soon be the Los Angeles Kings, despite no attention from their centers.
Despite playing a majority of games on the road, the Kings are 6-3-0 entering a stretch of nine games at home or in Arizona. And they’ve gone it with a single goal from any of their centermen.
Anze Kopitar, Mike Williams and Jarret Stoll all have yet to tickle the twine, yet there are no problems with the offense.
Kopitar leads the team in scoring with only assists (8), while Williams is third on the club. And with home-cooking coming up, L.A. could springboard in the rugged Pacific Division standings.
Of course, when L.A. won the Stanley Cup two seasons ago, the were offensively challenged all season, so head coach Darryl Sutter must only sit back and yawn knowing his game plan of defense first is working.
Jonathan Quick in goal doesn’t hurt, but when new back-up goalie Ben “The Professor” Scrivens posted a road shutout at Florida last week, L.A. knows this could be another magical season.
Team Previews (Final 10 of 30)
Flyers: Could GH Bob Clarke be on the hot seat? He’s already fired the head coach, but his talent-laden team still can’t put it together after missing the postseason for the second time since 1994.
Case-in-point: goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who was traded to Columbus, only to capture the Vezina Trophy. Meanwhile, the current tandem of Ray Emery and Steve Mason is not working with slow, porous defensemen in front of them.
Coyotes: The Desert Dogs are built from the back end first, making a look at the Under easy.
Goalie Mike Smith is solid – and he became the 11th goalie in NHL history to score earlier this season – while Dave Tippett is one of the NHL’s top coaches. The addition of center Mike Ribeiro from Washington aids the scoring, paired be wingers Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker.
Penguins: Regaining his Stanley Cup form from 2009, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is 7-0, a pleasant surprise after Tomas Vokoun was lost indefinitely due to blood clots. Pittsburgh placed all its eggs (i.e., money) in the basket last season to re-claim the Cup, but Boston had other ideas in the East final. Still, Pittsburgh has as much offense as anyone in the league and will again contend.
Blues: The NHL’s top tandem of defensemen – Alex Pietrangelo and J.J. Bouwmeester – playing in front of an A-minus goalie in Jaroslav Halak will keep the Blues near the top all season. And they’ve already defeated Chicago. On offense, Brenden Morrow was signed a week before the season starts, but they will need more goals from the other in the Top Nine.
Sharks: Management made all the right moves in the off-season: get rid of the slow (Ryan Clowe, Michal Handzus and Douglas Murray) and replace them with the quick while maintaining their grit.
Thus, the Sharks are one of the league’s highest-scoring teams, especially at home. Look forward to the exploits of center Joe Thornton, winger Patrick Marleau and defenseman Dan Boyle.
Lightning: The Bolts are off to a 5-3-0 start, similar to last season, but have yet to be significantly tested on the road. That means a repeat of last season’s second-half collapse is possible. Captain Vincent Lecavalier is gone, leaving Martin St. Louis as the only player left from the franchise’s one and only Stanley Cup championship victory in 2004.
Steven Stamkos may capture another scoring title, but the rest of the offense needs to strike.
Maple Leafs: Realignment may not help the Leafs, which advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2004 last season. Toronto acquired Kings back-up goalie Jonathan Bernier in the single-best offseason move in the league. Interesting since James Reimer was considered the reason Toronto ended its playoff drought. The question is if the Leafs behind prolific winger Phil Kessel can repeat as one of the NHL’s top scoring teams.
Canucks: This soap opera took a new turn. The goalie quandary is over, but new head coach John Tortorella comes in from the Rangers to keep the gossip flowing. Fired coach Alain Vigneault is now in New York! Roberto Luongo remains in goal after Corey Schneider jumped ship. The real problem is offense (19th in the league) and just how the Sedin twins are? Capitals: No teams from the old Southeast Division – including defending champion Washington – will make the playoffs. Why? Alex Ovechkin is off to a great start with a ton of goals, yet the team is already under .500 after playing 6 of 8 at home.
Jets: Winnipeg and Dallas benefitted the most from realignment, but in a tough division with Chicago and St. Louis. Still, a playoff berth as a wild card is possible. Although falling short by 8 points last season, they were No. 8 in the East with a month to go before the travel schedule caught up to them – that won’t happen this season. The Jets added forwards Devin Setoguchi and Michael Frolik to aid the scoring.
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