For the second time this millennium, the NHL regular season failed to drop the puck on time. Over three months of arguing, countless game cancellations, and a constant flow of public and professional criticism has led fans to this: a 48 game regular season with no inter-divisional play. No out of conference rivalries will be brought to the limelight this year. No All Star Game will commence in Columbus, Ohio. And as for the New Year’s extravaganza that is the Winter Classic…well we already know that didn’t happen. But where does this leave the steadfast fans anxiously awaiting the return of NHL hockey?
Well, for the reigning Stanley Cup champions the LA Kings, expect more of the fast paced, hard hitting hockey that ushered in a resounding game six victory against the New Jersey Devils last May, and a team first Stanley Cup. Sure, players left the States and went abroad to keep in shape during the lockout, but the only major team change that occurred during the off season (besides being able to spend time with the cup for the first time in team history)is the last minute trade of veteran enforcer Kevin Westgarth for Carolina Hurricane’s Anthony Stewart and a few late round draft picks. For King’s fans, look forward to more of the same play out of your Stanley Cup Champions. Anticipate big numbers out of Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, and Dustin Brown, and more importantly, anticipate another run for a Championship title.
The LA King’s start their abbreviated NHL Regular Season campaign against the Chicago Blackhawks this Saturday, January 19th at 12:00 PM (PT). Look for the game on NBC and live at the Staples Center. For ticket information go to: http://kings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=51898.
By David Morris