Last season the Kings did what many Los Angeles fans, myself included, thought was impossible…they made the playoffs. A feat that hadn’t been achieved since the 2001-2002 season. But how do they look this season? Can they possibly make the playoffs for a second year and become consistent playoff contenders? Dare I ask, could they possibly win Lord Stanley’s Trophy? With the days drawing closer I’ll make an attempt to write various articles on both the pros and cons of the Los Angeles Kings roster.

The first issue that comes to mind is the goaltending. The Los Angeles Kings have never had an exceptional goalie between the pipes. The last truly great goaltender for the Kings was Kelly Hrudey and to be honest he wasn’t that great. When you have guys like Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kuri, Luc Robatille, Paul Coffee in his prime, Tony Granato, Rob Blake in his prime, and Alexei Zhitnik…you don’t exactly have to be Patrick Roy to be good on a team that stacked. But back to what the Kings have right now. Last season they started Jonathan Quick and he was…alright. However, he had the same problem he has always had – giving up backbreaking goals at crucial points in a game. That is something that you just can’t have if you want to make any serious run at the Stanley Cup. You have to be consistently amazing and when you find yourself on an off night you have to power your way through and find a way to win regardless. That’s what makes a goalie elite, the ability to win games for their team even on an off night. This is something Jonathan Quick has proven he can’t do on a regular basis, which is why I think Quick would make an exceptional…back up goaltender. He has the tools to be decent, but he just can’t handle the starting roll with the amount of backbreaking goals he gives up that suck the energy out of his team. If Quick could find a way to be more clutch when the heat was on then I’d give the Kings a fantastic chance of making a serious run at the playoffs. But as he is now, they’ll make the playoffs but the rest of the team will have to carry Quick to get any further than the first or maybe second round at best.

This brings me to my next point on the Los Angeles Kings goaltending – Jonathan Bernier. For years the Kings management has been high on this kid. His numbers in Manchester, the Los Angeles Kings AHL affiliate feeder team, are stellar and he has been known to steal games that the Manchester Monarchs had no business at all winning. He was also named a starter for Team Canada in the 2010 AHL All Star Game. He has become one of the elite goalies in the AHL. Plus, every time Bernier has been called up to the Kings, because of issues with health or injury to the regular starters, he has shined. Bernier was called up for three games last season for the Kings. In that span of three games he won every game he started, had a shutout, won a shootout, had a save percentage of .957, and a goals against average of a sparse 1.30. The potential is there and while three games isn’t enough to say that he is the second coming of Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur…he certainly has a lot of promise. Currently, during the preseason, he is in an open competition with Erik Ersberg for the backup role on the Los Angeles Kings. However, all signs point to Bernier getting the nod.

Those are the two big names for the Kings in goal. Like I said, there is Erik Ersberg who is in an open competition with Bernier, but he is injured so often it’s like he doesn’t exist anyway. Next time we’ll look at the defensive core for the Los Angeles Kings and how being too offensive minded on defense could be more of a hindrance than a help.