On Thursday night, Oct 5, 2017, in front of a sellout crowd of 18,230 at STAPLES Center in downtown Los Angeles, the LA Kings opened the 2017-18 regular NHL season with a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. This was the first real look at a Kings team which underwent many internal changes during the most recent offseason. The objective is to get this squad back to being Stanley Cup contenders, which isn't unrealistic considering they're just three years removed from their most recent title.
Last season, the Kings missed the playoffs for the second time in three years. This led to a front office shakeup which saw Rob Blake replace Dean Lombardi as GM and assistant coach John Stevens taking over for Darryl Sutter as Head coach. The new staff also includes Don Nachbaur, Dave Lowry and perhaps most notably, well-respected NHL vet Pierre Turgeon, to assist Stevens behind the bench.
During his NHL career, Turgeon was known for his creative playmaking. He played 20 NHL seasons and was an All-star five times, while racking up 515 goals and 812 assists. His offensive philosophies should be of great help to naturally creative forwards like Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli. To have any hope this season, this offense must take a step forward from their lackluster campaign last year.
Thankfully, the Kings have goaltender Jonathan Quick back at full strength and when he's healthy, Quick is as good as any netminder on the planet. On defense, Drew Doughty is a superstar in this league, though there are questions about the depth behind him. The opening night roster saw Christian Folin, Oscar Fantenberg, Derek Forbort and Kurtis MacDermid in the lineup. It is unknown just how much upside these youngsters may have, but if there's a gem among them, the Kings should be solid on D.
Whether this year turns out to be merely a return to respectability or another championship season remains to be seen, but no matter how everything turns out, this team should bear watching. The Kings next game is on Saturday night, Oct 7, when they will be in San Jose to face the division rival Sharks. Next week will see the start of a four-game homestand on Wednesday, Oct 11, when the Calgary Flames come to town (click here for tickets). The Kings will then face the Buffalo Sabres (tickets), New York Islanders (tickets) and Montreal Canadiens (tickets) to round out the homestand.
Check out the opening game roster combinations below and click here to get tickets to Kings home games on AXS.com.
Kings opening night forward line combinations: Anze Kopitar/Dustin Brown/Alex Iafallo, Jeff Carter/Tanner Pearson/Tyler Toffoli, Trevor Lewis/Kyle Clifford/Nick Shore, Jonny Brodzinski/Michael Cammalleri/Adrian Kempe.