Underestimate the Los Angeles Kings at Your Own Risk in 2013-14 NHL Season

Shame on you puck prognosticators everywhere.

With goalie Jonathan Quick, top-line center Anze Kopitar and No. 1 defenseman Drew Doughty—all established and young All-Stars who possess upside—manning the most important positions on the ice, the Los Angeles Kings have to be considered a Stanley Cup favorite.

Yet they are not the sexy preseason pick.

The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks are the consensus choice. Vegas Insider likes the Pittsburgh Penguins and Bodog (h/t Odds Shark) favors Chicago. Both see the Kings' championship odds as no better than 12-to-1, with higher expectations for the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.  

It obviously takes more than three players to form a great team. A champion displays all sorts of characteristics, needs to avoid the injury bug and has to get its fair share of good fortune along the way.

Those things are a lot harder to control and forecast.

What the Kings can control—personnel decisions, player development and molding a roster around an identity their coach and general manager demand—is an area in which Los Angeles excels.

The Kings might be two-time defending champs if not for better health by the time they reached the third round last season. But 13 games of physical battles with first the Blues and then the San Jose Sharks added up by the time the Kings faced the 'Hawks.

Now, starting fresh, the Kings' roster looks better than it did at the outset of last year when they made virtually no changes from a franchise-first Stanley Cup in 2012.

The players whom general manager Dean Lombardi has assembled fit the way the Kings and coach Darryl Sutter want to play to a tee. 

The Kings like to play fast and hard, and they can do that because of their top-end skill and team depth. It starts in goal with Quick, who has been outstanding in eac...

About the Author