Weekend Returns: The Kings are the Guardians of the Cup once more

 

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HWOODRANK1Hey everyone, welcome back! It has been quite a summer for Kings fans. We witnessed the Los Angeles Kings raise Lord Stanley’s chalice once again.

On the other hand, we witnessed a rag-tag, loveable bunch of scamps save the universe in theaters this summer, thanks to the geniuses over at Marvel, as Guardians Of The Galaxy took the top spot at the box office this summer.

The Summer of Stanley II seemed a little abridged. Then again, we’re getting a full season of being referred to as the DEFENDING STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS, and not that crappy abridged season that saw the Blackhawks sneak past us.

And even though the Kings have quieted many naysayers, it still seems that there are still a few in the media who are still not convinced of the Kings’ dominance heading into this season. Not only are we the defending champions, we are damn near returning the entire freaking team to the ice on Opening Night.

As I do, I’ve compiled a list of some national sports outlets’ NHL preseason rankings and to my surprise, there were a few writers who rank the Kings far too low. Lemme show you what I mean.

ESPN.com‘s Scott Burnside’s Week 0 rating: 1.

The champs are the champs until someone tells us different. We know the Kings sometimes don’t show their colors until late in the regular season, but we still like them to challenge Anaheim atop the Pacific from the get-go.

FanSided‘s Patrick Schmidt’s Week 0 rating: 1.

The defending champions and winners of two of the last three Stanley Cups occupy the top spot in the conference and the No. 1 overall spot for the entire NHL. Los Angeles returns everyone from last year’s team with the exception of Willie Mitchell, but the re-signing of Marian Gaborik was vital toward the Kings maintaining their status as the team to beat in the West. He and Anze Kopitar were an unstoppable pair in the postseason. Jonathan Quick is as good as any goalie in the league when he’s at the top of his game. If Jonathan Quick can stay healthy all season long and Drew Doughty plays like he did in the postseason for 82 games in the regular season, the Kings will be tough to beat.

TSN‘s Scott Cullen’s Week 0 rating: 2.

They were good enough to win the Cup with virtually the same roster last season, so the group that opens this year comes with the challenge of defending the crown, but there is perhaps reason for more optimism, as having young forwards Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli on hand right from the start could increase the Kings’ offensive production.

Sports Illustrated‘s Allan Muir’s Week 0 rating: 2.

(Ed. note: SI’s still using the old Crown logo) The Kings are best positioned to thwart the Blackhawks. Like Chicago, L.A. has had a wealth of success and roster stability. GM Dean Lombardi re-signed trade-deadline pickup Marian Gaborik in June. He and linemate Anze Kopitar will boost the Kings’ regular-season scoring, which ranked 26th last year. (It’s the one area where the team is clearly inferior to the Blackhawks.) A premier defense, led by Drew Doughty, and solid goaltending from Jonathan Quick will keep Los Angeles in the hunt for a second straight Cup.

The Bleacher Report‘s Jonathan Willis’ Week 0 rating: 1.

By the Numbers: Over 45 games with Los Angeles, including the postseason, Marian Gaborik scored 19 times, for an 82-game pace of 35 goals. That may be a touch high, as his shooting percentage over that span is a little better than his career average, but even adjusting for that, he should be capable of scoring 30 if he stays healthy. That will be a big boost for the Kings, who have struggled to score in recent years.

NHL.com‘s Corey Masisak Week 0 rating: 2.

Maybe the Kings, emboldened by their second championship in three seasons and reinforced up front by full seasons for Marian Gaborik, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter at center, finally can win a division title. Maybe not, because coach Darryl Sutter’s suffocating style of play is difficult to master for six months of the regular-season grind. Do expect an improvement for Los Angeles, because a team with all of this talent likely won’t shoot so poorly for three-quarters of a season again. Don’t be surprised if Round 3 with the Blackhawks becomes a reality in May.

USA Today‘s Week 0 rating: 3.  (Ed. note: Really? Hawks and Ducks ranked 1 and 2!)

Give GM Dean Lombardi credit for keeping the core together, particularly his seven-year deal with Marian Gaborik.

Go home, USA Today, you’re drunk.

So here’s where I put my advanced journalist math skills and figure out the official Hockeywood Power Ranking, which happens to be

1.7

I promise to have a post explaining what has happened to me personally this summer. I know that being out of the people’s minds for a while tends to cause some to forget. I’m still here and anxious to get the season started.

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