The Los Angeles Kings hit the ice tonight, trying to recapture the Stanley Cup. Hopefully you've gotten to read SB Nation's amazing Season Preview (and our contributions to the Kings section), and we'll have a full preview of tonight's showdown with the Minnesota Wild coming soon. But before things get going, let's look at a few factors that are going to make this season an interesting one for the Kings.
Unlike the poor saps who now have to play in something called a Metropolitan Division, the Kings get to stay exactly where they've been for the last 20 years: the Pacific Division. The surroundings have changed, though, and regular trips to Canada replace trips to Texas. You can let Battle of California convince you that this is an improvement from a non-hockey perspective. From a hockey perspective, it's kind of a push. We lose Dallas, a team which is oging to struggle to make the playoffs this year. We also lose a matchup that gives us one or two dramatic comebacks and a number of competitive games each season. But Mike Ribeiro is still in the division. D'oh!
So who do we gain? The Vancouver Canucks, who we know and love. The Edmonton Oilers, who are the hot young team that hasn't put it all together yet. And the Calgary Flames, who seem destined for the cellar. The Canucks are familiar foes, but if you don't know much about the Oilers or Flames, check out John's features on Edmonton and Calgary from the summer.
The Stadium Series
Okay, it's pretty unlikely that this game affects the Kings in any significant way. More worrisome is the fact that the Kings have road games in St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, Columbus, and Anaheim in the span of a week leading up to the showdown at Dodger Stadium. I can't speak to how ice quality affects the Kings, but they're going to be a tired team when all that is said and done. The bright side, of course, is that we get to watch hockey at Chavez freaking Ravine. Oh, and the US Olympic team will be announced at the game, which leads us nicely into...
The Olympic Break
I used to have a poster in my room of the 2006 Olympians from the Los Angeles Kings. Let's play a game: can you name the four Kings who went to Italy that season? I'll be impressed if you can name three and surprised if you get all four. Answer can be found in the comments.
In 2010, the Kings sent five players, four of whom medaled. The Kings are guaranteed to send four again this year, and could send six NHLers if everything breaks right. That hasn't happened since Nagano in 1998.
Anze Kopitar will probably be done early, but all others (Brown, Quick, Doughty, probably Voynov, perhaps Richards or Carter) are playing on teams which have gold medal aspirations and will likely play into the medal rounds. For bruiser Brown and ice time leaders Doughty and Voynov, this means not getting too much time off. But for potential starter Quick, this means adding 5-6 games to the load. It would be nice for the Kings to be in the top half of the conference around this time, preferably with a cushion that allows Ben Scrivens to spell Quick.
|OCTOBER||HOME/AWAY||OPPONENT||TIME (PT)||TV||LOCAL TV|
|Thu, Oct 3||AWAY||Minnesota||5:00 PM||NBCSN|
|Fri, Oct 4||AWAY||Winnipeg||5:00 PM||FSW1|
|Mon, Oct 7||HOME||NY Rangers||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Wed, Oct 9||HOME||Ottawa||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Fri, Oct 11||AWAY||Carolina||4:00 PM||FSW1|
|Sun, Oct 13||AWAY||Florida||12:00 PM||FSW1|
|Tue, Oct 15||AWAY||Tampa Bay||4:30 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Oct 17||AWAY||Nashville||5:00 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Oct 19||HOME||Dallas||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Mon, Oct 21||HOME||Calgary||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Oct 24||HOME||Phoenix||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Sun, Oct 27||HOME||Edmonton||6:00 PM||FSW1|
|Tue, Oct 29||AWAY||Phoenix||7:00 PM||FSW1|
|Wed, Oct 30||HOME||San Jose||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|NOVEMBER||HOME/AWAY||OPPONENT||TIME (PT)||TV||LOCAL TV|
|Sat, Nov 2||HOME||Nashville||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Nov 7||HOME||Buffalo||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Nov 9||HOME||Vancouver||7:00 PM||CBC||FSW1|
|Tue, Nov 12||AWAY||Buffalo||4:00 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Nov 14||AWAY||NY Islanders||4:00 PM||FSW1|
|Fri, Nov 15||AWAY||New Jersey||4:00 PM||FSW1|
|Sun, Nov 17||AWAY||NY Rangers||4:00 PM||FSW1|
|Tue, Nov 19||HOME||Tampa Bay||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Nov 21||HOME||New Jersey||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Nov 23||HOME||Colorado||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Mon, Nov 25||AWAY||Vancouver||7:00 PM||FSW1|
|Wed, Nov 27||AWAY||San Jose||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Nov 30||HOME||Calgary||7:00 PM||CBC||FSW1|
|DECEMBER||OPPONENT||TIME (PT)||TV||LOCAL TV|
|Mon, Dec 2||HOME||St. Louis||7:30 PM||NHLNET-CA||FSW1|
|Tue, Dec 3||AWAY||Anaheim||7:00 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Dec 7||HOME||NY Islanders||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Tue, Dec 10||AWAY||Montreal||4:00 PM||RDS||FSW1|
|Wed, Dec 11||AWAY||Toronto||4:30 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Dec 14||AWAY||Ottawa||11:00 AM||NHLN||FSW1|
|Sun, Dec 15||AWAY||Chicago||4:00 PM||FSW1|
|Tue, Dec 17||HOME||Edmonton||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Dec 19||HOME||San Jose||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Dec 21||HOME||Colorado||1:00 PM||NHLN||FSW1|
|Mon, Dec 23||HOME||Dallas||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Dec 28||AWAY||Nashville||5:00 PM||FSW1|
|Mon, Dec 30||AWAY||Chicago||5:00 PM||NBCSN|
|Tue, Dec 31||AWAY||Dallas||5:00 PM||FSW1|
|JANUARY||OPPONENT||TIME (PT)||TV||LOCAL TV|
|Thu, Jan 2||AWAY||St. Louis||5:00 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Jan 4||HOME||Vancouver||7:00 PM||CBC||FSW1|
|Tue, Jan 7||HOME||Minnesota||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Jan 9||HOME||Boston||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Jan 11||HOME||Detroit||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Mon, Jan 13||HOME||Vancouver||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Jan 16||AWAY||St. Louis||5:00 PM||NBCSN|
|Sat, Jan 18||AWAY||Detroit||4:00 PM||FSW1|
|Mon, Jan 20||AWAY||Boston||10:00 AM||NHLNET-CA||FSW1|
|Tue, Jan 21||AWAY||Columbus||4:00 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Jan 23||AWAY||Anaheim||7:00 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Jan 25||HOME||Anaheim||6:30 PM||NBCSN|
|Mon, Jan 27||AWAY||San Jose||7:00 PM||NBCSN|
|Tue, Jan 28||AWAY||Phoenix||6:00 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Jan 30||HOME||Pittsburgh||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|FEBRUARY||OPPONENT||TIME (PT)||TV||LOCAL TV|
|Sat, Feb 1||HOME||Philadelphia||1:00 PM||NHLN||FSW1|
|Mon, Feb 3||HOME||Chicago||7:30 PM||NHLNET-CA||FSW1|
|Thu, Feb 6||HOME||Columbus||7:30 PM||NHLNET-CA||FSW1|
|Wed, Feb 26||AWAY||Colorado||7:00 PM||NBCSN|
|Thu, Feb 27||AWAY||Calgary||6:30 PM||TSN||FSW1|
|MARCH||OPPONENT||TIME (PT)||TV||LOCAL TV|
|Sat, Mar 1||HOME||Carolina||1:00 PM||FSW1|
|Mon, Mar 3||HOME||Montreal||7:30 PM||RDS||FSW1|
|Thu, Mar 6||AWAY||Winnipeg||4:00 PM||CBC||FSW1|
|Sun, Mar 9||AWAY||Edmonton||5:00 PM||FSW1|
|Mon, Mar 10||AWAY||Calgary||6:00 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Mar 13||HOME||Toronto||7:30 PM||TSN||FSW1|
|Sat, Mar 15||HOME||Anaheim||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Mon, Mar 17||HOME||Phoenix||7:30 PM||NHLNET-CA||FSW1|
|Thu, Mar 20||HOME||Washington||7:30 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Mar 22||HOME||Florida||1:00 PM||FSW1|
|Mon, Mar 24||AWAY||Philadelphia||4:00 PM||FSW1|
|Tue, Mar 25||AWAY||Washington||4:00 PM||FSW1|
|Thu, Mar 27||AWAY||Pittsburgh||4:00 PM||FSW1|
|Sat, Mar 29||HOME||Winnipeg||7:00 PM||CBC||FSW1|
|Mon, Mar 31||HOME||Minnesota||7:00 PM||NBCSN|
|APRIL||OPPONENT||TIME (PT)||TV||LOCAL TV|
|Wed, Apr 2||HOME||Phoenix||7:30 PM||NBCSN|
|Thu, Apr 3||AWAY||San Jose||7:30 PM||NBCSN|
|Sat, Apr 5||AWAY||Vancouver||7:00 PM||CBC||FSW2|
|Wed, Apr 9||AWAY||Calgary||7:00 PM||TSN|
|Thu, Apr 10||AWAY||Edmonton||6:30 PM||TSN||FSW1|
|Sat, Apr 12||HOME||Anaheim||7:30 PM||FSW2|
Three key observations:
- October is a really good chance for the Kings to grab an early lead in the division; the stretch from October 11-29 is probably the softest for LA all season. November is only slightly tougher. If the Kings want to finally win the Pacific Division, they'll need to have a strong opening two months.
- January: toughest homestand of the season (Vancouver x 2, Boston, Detroit, Minnesota) right before the toughest road trip of the season (St. Louis, Boston and Detroit again, Columbus and Anaheim). Then the outdoor game.
- That April homestretch is going to be fun. Each division opponent, back to back. The three days off before the final three games will be really nice.
Three relatively meaningless observations:
- Hey, cool, Eastern teams! And as such, we only get to play Detroit twice. Make it count.
- After tonight's nationally televised game, the Kings have to wait more than two months to appear on national American television again. And no games on NBC, at all. Name one other professional sports league that decides not to show a team which won a title LAST YEAR on its biggest network. I know it's a Western problem, but still, show your best teams, NHL.
- Quick v Bernier: December 11 or March 13.