It feels like decades since the Kings entered the start of the season as playoff-hopefuls. Perhaps it’s because 2020 felt like a decade wrapped into a year. This season, however, promises to be anything but ordinary. Despite finishing last season with the fifth-worst record in the league, the Kings enter 2021 with high hopes.
“I expect us to compete really hard for a [playoff] spot like that, and shame on any team that’s not approaching the season that way, us included.”
– Todd McLellan, Head Coach
The two year head coach has set the bar high for Los Angeles, as any fan would expect. The Kings have made the playoffs 30 times in their 52 seasons as a professional organization, most notably winning their first and second Stanley Cup within the last decade.
Veteran players like Jonathon Quick and Jeff Carter remember playing in the shortened season of 2012-2013. They understand that with a fewer games comes more chances for the team to qualify for a playoff spot.
“When it’s shortened down like that, every game means so much. So that means teams aren’t going to be far out of it; teams aren’t going to be running away with it; every game is going to mean that much more.”
– Jonathon Quick, Goaltender
While the vets have an idea of what to expect in the season to come, the youth on the team are not exempt from pulling the same weight on the way to the playoffs.
There is a lot to be excited about with this young core. LA was well-represented in the World Juniors this past year. Alex Kaliyev shows signs of a serving as a sharp-shooter on the ice, scoring four goals with two assists. Samuel Fagemo lead the WJC in goals (8) and points (13). And despite having just one goal, it proved to be the decisive blow to the Canadian National team in the WJC Gold medal game.
Akil Thomas: 1 goal (it was a big one), 2p
Samuel Fagemo: 8g, 13p (led WJC in both)
Arthur Kaliyev: 4g, 6p
Kim Nousiainen: 1g, 4p
Alex Turcotte: 0g, 2a
Aidan Dudas: 0g, 2a
Tobias Bjornfot: 0p
Rasmus Kupari: 0p (only 1 GP bc injury)
— Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) January 5, 2020
Despite being thrust into the professional world during these unusual circumstances, the young core approach the season with excitement and anticipation.
“It’s really a time to get to get to practice with [the veterans]. I thought, I was going to do my best every rep I get and work as hard as I can on every rep.”
– Arthur Kaliyev, Winger
In the middle of a rebuild, the LA Kings are presented with an opportunity—one that will require the vets to step up and the youth to grow up fast. Kings fans, new and old, have come to expect a degree of excellence. Having missed the playoffs to end the 2010’s, LA looks to begin the 2020’s on the right foot: competing for an achievable spot in this year’s fight for Lord Stanley’s cup.
The Kings open their 2020-2021 campaign at home against the Minnesota Wild at 7:00 PM PST.