Hockey fans in southern California had the opportunity to see Stanley Cup playoff action in 2018 as the Los Angeles Kings were one of 16 National Hockey League clubs to qualify for the postseason. Here are the 2018 Kings highlights!
In the 2018 National Hockey League offseason, the Los Angeles Kings decided to open their wallet and sign Russian superstar Ilya Kovalchuk to a three-year contract worth $18.75 million. This past season, Kovalchuk won a gold medal for the Olympic Athletes from Russia at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. Kovalchuk returned to the NHL in 2018-19 after six seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League with SKA St. Petersburg. Kovalchuk previously played 11 NHL seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils from 2001-2013. He had 816 points in 816 NHL regular season games, and won the Maurice Richard Trophy in 2003-04, for leading the NHL with 41 goals. This season with the Kings, Kovalchuk has 17 points in 29 games.
4) Drew Doughty named to the NHL First All-Star Team
For the second time in his NHL career, Drew Doughty was named to the NHL's first all-star team. He was named alongside center Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, left wing Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils, right wing Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning, defenseman Victor Hedman of the Lightning and goaltender Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators. Doughty had a career-high 50 assists and 60 points in 2017-18, represented the Kings at the NHL All-Star Game in Tampa Bay with Kings captain Anze Kopitar, and was a nominee for the Norris Trophy. In the offseason, the Kings signed Doughty to an eight-year contract extension worth $88 million.
3) Doughty makes LA Kings history
On Dec. 6, Doughty set a King's franchise record for most points in a career by a defenseman with 334. He set the record in a 6-3 Kings loss to the New Jersey Devils on a goal by Adrian Kempe at 6:59 of the second period which tied the game at two at the time. Doughty broke the record of 333 assists, currently set by current Kings general manager Rob Blake.
Blake still has the Kings regular season franchise record by a defenseman for goals (161) and points (494). Doughty, who now has 339 assists, currently has 104 goals and 443 points. Within the next two years, it is very possible that Doughty could break Blake's all-time Kings records for goals and points as well.
2) Anze Kopitar wins Selke Trophy
For the second time in his NHL career in 2018, Anze Kopitar won the Selke Trophy, presented to the best defensive forward. In 82 games during the 2017-18 regular season, Kopitar led the Kings in scoring with 92 points. However, he was also very dependable in his own zone as he was a +21, 54 takeaways and 64 blocked shots. Kopitar was also excellent in the faceoff circle as he won 983 faceoffs (most in his career and third most in the NHL behind only Ryan O'Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins). Kopitar's first Selke Trophy came in 2016. Coincidentally, that was also the same year that Doughty won the Norris Trophy. Kopitar was also a nominee for the Hart Trophy in 2018 but lost out to Taylor Hall.
1) LA Kings make the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs
The Los Angeles Kings qualified for the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 4 when the Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3. They finished in fourth place in the Pacific Division with a record of 45 wins, 29 regulation losses and eight losses in extra time for 98 points. By being the top wildcard team in the Western Conference, the Kings faced the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Kings lost four games to none.