There is still quite a ways to go this season but so far, the Los Angeles Kings have taken the skepticism of an 0-3-0 start and turned it into a distant memory. Entering the holiday break with a six-point lead in the Pacific, the silver-and-black are looking strong despite losing their last two. However, given the their Stanley Cup success in recent years, the Kings’ regular-season doesn’t bare quite as much significance. Still, their place thus far did not happen by accident as there are plenty of reasons why the Kings are as successful as they are this season.
In recognition of Festivus, here are the top three Feats of Strength for the Los Angeles Kings:
3) The Goaltenders
Last Monday night, Jonathan Quick had probably his worst outing of the season allowing five goals on 21 shots en route to a 5-3 defeat in Ottawa. But, like any great netminder, Quick bounced back with a vengeance as his next game — three nights later in Montreal — saw the 29-year-old put on not only his best performance of the season but one of the best of his career, shutting down a formidable Canadiens attack by making 45 saves for his 39th-career shutout. As recently as last season, Quick has been questioned for his elite status — or lack thereof. Yet this season, even though his defense hasn’t always helped him out, he is putting those doubts to bed as hockey pundits are seeing just why the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and even in 2014. His 2.26 goals-against average and .917 save percentage may not look scintillating on paper but Quick is proving that he is once again the real deal — in case some have thought that he had ever relinquished said title.
As for Jhonas Enroth, his signing in the summer came with little fanfare but a lot of curiosity since J.F. Berube was believed to on the precipice of cracking the big club’s roster. However, Enroth, while he has lost his last three decisions, has been a very pleasant surprise for the Kings so far. The 27-year-old native of Stockholm has gone 3-2-1 so far with a 1.90 GAA and a .939 save percentage. His performances in San Jose and St. Louis — where he recorded a shutout — are notable in speaking of Enroth’s success thus far. Here’s to more timely and reliable goaltending in Los Angeles.
On Dec. 12, the Kings lost in overtime to Ryan O’Reilly and the Buffalo Sabres. That was just Los Angeles’s first loss in six trips to the extra session this season. With the new 3-on-3 format now in effect, the Kings, never notorious for their speed, have turned overtime into a spectacle of sorts as fans have had the privilege of watching exhilarating back-and-forth hockey manifest itself into dramatic finishes, leaving the fans feeling as if they received their money’s worth — and then some. Edging teams like the Predators, Blackhawks and Blue Jackets — the latter two in comeback fashion — have emphasized Los Angeles’s overall strength, leaving remnants of their ultimate success in the past few years. The 3-on-3 format has certainly benefited the Kings but have made their contests more thrilling to watch regardless of who comes out victorious. Luckily for the Kings, they hold the advantage thus far.
1) The TLC Line
While they have been recently separated, the line of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and new King Milan Lucic have played a large role in guiding the Los Angeles Kings to the top of the Pacific Division. The TLC Line has been far and away the most productive trio for the silver-and-black thus far. Since the beginning of November, the line has combined for 18 goals and 41 points leaving many in their wake. Lucic, however, has been reunited with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik while Carter and Toffoli are looking to rediscover their That 70’s Line spark with Tanner Pearson. So, let’s hope in due time, we will be singing praises for more line pairings.