LA Kings stayed intact in hopes of Cup repeat

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm •  Published: January 18, 2013

"We know we have the experience and the leadership to handle the short amount of time," said Dustin Penner, who probably gave a free-agent discount to the Kings for the chance to return. "We know we're going to be targeted by every team that comes in here and in every building we go to on the road, but we're ready for that."

There's a potential downside to that continuity, of course: While Los Angeles was unstoppable in the postseason, the Kings barely made the playoffs, not even clinching a berth until right before their 81st game last April. They struggled to score for most of the regular season, finishing 29th in goals per game and only finding their stride after the trade arrival of power forward Jeff Carter late in the year.

A slow start could be insurmountable this season, and the Kings must begin without Kopitar and defenseman Willie Mitchell, who still aren't back to full strength from offseason injuries. Quick says he's completely healthy after offseason back surgery, but backup Jonathan Bernier could get more work than he did last season.

"I don't think teams took us lightly even last year, so I don't think that's going to change," said Doughty, who cemented his star status with an outstanding postseason run. "But we know every team is going to be gunning for us every night. We're confident we're going to have a good team again, but it's going to be different."

The Kings' defense was its most consistent advantage on the Cup run, with Quick backstopping a tremendous effort throughout the playoffs. If that defense maintains its sturdiness, Los Angeles believes it can scrape together enough goals to stay in the race, particularly if they get bounce-back seasons from Mike Richards, Penner and Jarret Stoll, who all scored below their capabilities during the last regular season.

Saturday's party will soon give way to the grind of a compact campaign, but the Kings believe they can get through it together.

"You get a little celebration, but pretty soon it's back to getting ready for the season," Quick said. "You don't want to stay on the past for too long."