Los Angeles Kings: Players Who Must Improve for a Successful Stanley Cup Defense

The Los Angeles Kings' improbable run to their first Stanley Cup championship in team history last season wouldn't have been possible if under performing players such as Dustin Penner didn't improve their performance in the playoffs.

For the Kings to become the first repeat champions since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings, head coach Darryl Sutter will need a number of his players to player better this season than they did last year.

Let's look at four Kings players who must improve this year for the Kings to be successful in their title defense.


Mike Richards

The former Flyers captain was one of the Kings' best players once the playoffs began, but his regular season performance was not what the team expected after acquiring him in a trade just days before free agency last summer.

Richards scored 18 goals with 26 assists for 44 points last season. The last time he scored fewer than 20 goals, had less than 30 assists, and didn't rack up 60 or more points was the 2006-07 season.

One of the reasons why the Los Angeles struggled to find the back of the net consistently for much of last season was because Richards was not the playmaker, and goal scorer he had been in Philadelphia for so many years.

After raising his game in the playoffs with 15 points in 20 games, and finally winning the Stanley Cup, expect Richards' offensive production to drastically improve next season. He should score anywhere between 65-75 points in 2012-13 if there's a full 82-game season.

Richards is one of the best two-way centers in the game, and next year his offense will once again be on the same level as his defensive play.


Slava Voynov

Slava Voynov is one of the best young players on the Kings roster, and after handling the pressure of playing on a championship caliber team very well in his first full NHL season, he will be exp...

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