Los Angeles Kings Need Slava Voynov to Rebound in 2014-15

The Los Angeles Kings’ defensive corps figures to sport a slightly different look next season, and Slava Voynov will play a crucial role in determining its success.

Since the 24-year-old’s NHL debut in 2011-12, he has enjoyed the safety net of veteran blueliners Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi by his side. They’re both in the Eastern Conference now, with question marks in Robyn Regehr, Jeff Schultz and Brayden McNabb vying for the vacant spot on the second defensive pair.

At least on a short-term basis, Voynov will shoulder the brunt of the workload on his unit...and he’s coming off a wretched campaign.

His ability to bounce back will significantly impact L.A.’s all-around game in 2014-15.


A Season to Forget

Voynov is surely hoping to put the previous year behind him, as it was his worst as an NHLer.

Though the basic stats (34 points, plus-six in 82 games) are fine, his play was anything but, hampered by slow decision-making and a startling lack of confidence. The attacking rearguard no longer commanded the puck because merely getting it out of the defensive zone was an ordeal.

In late January, he’s afforded an eternity to find an outlet pass. Instead of spotting Mike Richards early or chipping the puck out, Voynov holds on and then holds on some more.

When he finally tires of turning on himself, his dish misses the mark:

The puck ends up on Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s stick, and the Phoenix Coyotes open the scoring shortly thereafter.

Against the Anaheim Ducks, Voynov detects a loose puck but isn’t hard enough on it to keep Nick Bonino at bay. The forward strips him of possession in a dangerous area and then capitalizes on a pathetic attempt at defense to pot the 1-0 marker:

Half-hearted and hesitant play also followed Voynov around in ...

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