The 2022-23 season is now over for the Los Angeles Kings, thanks to a first-round exit by the Edmonton Oilers. Safe to say most Kings fans are not happy about this outcome. However, the Kings were better this year regarding points earned in the regular season. The Kings had three more wins and five more points than they had last season. The season was filled with players reaching career highs and a usual sight in the standings. As a team, they scored 40 more goals than they did last season.
The year was abruptly ended by the Oilers, who finished the Kings in six games. The Kings simply could not stop the duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Los Angeles did have a successful season, playing great hockey after December. The arrival of Pheonix Copley gave this team a new attitude, one that would carry them to a playoff spot; Copley was recalled in December to replace goaltender Cal Petersen, who would remain with the AHL Ontario Reign the rest of the season. Copley finished the season strong, leading the Kings to a spot in the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs. Copley finished the season with a career-high 24 wins and is the sole reason the Kings were able to finish as high as they did in the standings.
As for the skaters, forward Adrian Kempe showed this season that he is the go-to guy in terms of scoring goals. He scored a career-high 41 goals, to go along with his career-high 26 assists for a career-high of 67 points. The start of his career was slow as far as goal-scoring was concerned. However, he has turned that corner and become an elite goal scorer in the NHL—one of the deadliest releases on the power play in the league.
Captain Anze Kopitar led the Los Angeles Kings in points yet again. The older Kopitar gets, the better he gets. He shows no signs of slowing down and is set to bring the team another Stanley Cup in the near future. The leader of the team, Kopitar, plays within the structure to make this team better every season. The team is better with him in the lineup, win or lose.
Defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, acquired with goaltender Joonas Korpisalo from the Columbus Blue Jackets, solidified the left side of the defense. He played a strong game once he arrived in Los Angeles and never looked back. Gavrikov played with confidence and leadership from the beginning. He provided some offense as well as solid defense, often joining the rush for an offensive chance. Gavrikov is a free agent after this season. His last contract saw him earn an AAV of $2.8 million over three years, and general manager Rob Blake should re-sign him as soon as possible—reliable and dependable defenseman who could help the Kings next season.
(Photo: latimes.com; Helene Elliott) (Photo: lakingsinsider.com; Zach Dooley)