Hot Stove Discussion: A Few Questions on the Los Angeles Kings

As you may have noticed, we hockey bloggers at SBN have been paired up for some cross-conference Q&A in an effort to help fans get a little more knowledgeable about some of the teams they might not be devoting as much attention towards - and get SBN users to realize just how many great blogs there are on our network.

Japers' Rink drew the Los Angeles Kings, a team whose rebuild is almost complete, and hence should be interesting to follow in 2009-10.  RudyKelly at Battle of California has already been so kind as to post our answers to his questions and we're going to return the favor (our questions, his answers) after the jump.

(1) The Kings haven't made the playoffs since 2002 and haven't had a winning season since 2005-06.  The talent pool they've accumulated in their rebuild is impressive and there are certainly people out there who think the team can make a run at a postseason berth in 2009-10 - do you think that's realistic?  Why or why not?

Realistic?  Sure.  If Anze Kopitar plays better and scores about 80 points, if Drew Doughty continues to be the greatest man in history, if the goaltending holds up, if the Kings continue to play good defense, if Ryan Smyth brings some sort of leadership to the team, if Justin Williams recovers from his injuries to play up to his early potential, the Kings can make the playoffs.  All of those are realisitc.  All of them happening in one season?  Maybe not so realistic.  The Kings should be in that 7-10 region this season.

(2) The Capitals have struggled to get mainstream press at times, owing largely to being situated in a market that has the most rabid fan base in professional football, the most successful American soccer team in history, NBA and MLB teams and is the political center of the world.  Do the Kings suffer the same fate being in the center of the entertainment world and the same city as the Angels (sort of), Dodgers, Lakers, and University of Southern California?  As a hardcore Kings fan, how do you feel about local media coverage?

Yeah, the Kings struggle to gain any sort of market share because they share money with all the sports teams in the area and also with Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, the Getty, and a thousand other awesome things to do in LA and Orange County.  The Kings have been around long enough that most people know they're there, but people in LA don't pay attention to losers.  When the Kings make the playoffs Staples is jumping, and they'll make some noise with the media when they get there soon.

We are lucky that we have probably the best local beat site in the country (Rich Hammond at the Los Angeles Daily News) and Kings fans tend to some of the more dedicated fans around.  There are also some good blogs if you're interested, like A Queen Among Kings and The Royal Half among others.  Overall, I'm fairly happy with our coverage because frankly I don't need the competition.

(3) How do Kings fans feel about the team's goaltending going in to next season?  Is it realistic to expect Jonathan Quick to do as well or perhaps even improve?  How close to being ready is Jonathan Bernier?

It's not so much that the Kings are confident in Jonathan Quick as they are confident that one of Quick/Bernier/Erik Ersberg will play well.  Quick is the incumbent and played very well in his first taste at NHL action (2.48 GAA, .914 SV% in 44 games), while Ersberg is a fairly reliable back-up as long as he plays about 20 games or so.

Jonathan Bernier is the big question mark this season.  He made the Kings out of camp 2 years ago as a 19 year-old but was sent back to Junior to save him from the Kings' porous defense.  He has a bit of a track record of pouting when things don't work out for him; his play suffered after he lost out to Steve Mason at the World Juniors a couple years ago and he pouted last year after Bernier didn't make the Kings out of camp.  The Kings are fairly lucky because Quick is probably good enough right now while Bernier should hopefully be great in the future.  We'll see.

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