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Five things to watch with the Kings this season

A battle for the starting goalie job might be brewing, and the defensemen could become a big part of the offense.

October 08, 2010|By Helene Elliott

Five things to watch with the Kings

1. Drew Doughty, 20, is a Norris Trophy favorite after finishing in the top three in his second NHL season. He has displayed a knack for raising his game a notch on a big stage, and with more expected of him and of the Kings he has another chance to step up.

2. The battle of the goaltending Jonathans will be a big story. Jonathan Quick had a terrific start last season but faded as Coach Terry Murray overplayed him, and he won only four of 17 post-Olympic starts. Jonathan Bernier, long considered the Kings' goalie of the future, is ready now. Quick was designated the No. 1 goalie, but Bernier can slide in if Quick falters. The runner-up in this duel could be traded for the forward the Kings didn't get in the off-season.

3. Speaking of the forward the Kings didn't get … five-on-five scoring was a weakness they planned to address through free agency. But while they were futilely pursuing Ilya Kovalchuk they missed out on other players who might have helped them. They can be patient now but might have to deal some assets later.

4. Anze Kopitar had 33 points in his first 22 games last season. Then linemate Ryan Smyth got hurt and Kopitar disappeared for six weeks. He finished with career highs of 34 goals and 81 points, but if he's going to firmly establish himself as an elite center he must be consistent.

5. Murray played Quick too much last season and jumbled his line combinations too often, but he installed a solid defensive foundation and still has players' attention. Without a game-breaking forward he will open things up a bit and allow the defensemen to move up into the play. The rewards could outweigh the risks.

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