With the calendar year about to turn to a new one, it is time to take a look back at just what 2018 was like for the Los Angeles Kings.
As with all things, the Kings 2018 had peaks and valleys. There was excitement, boredom, disappointment, and at times rock bottom.
At the beginning of the year, the Kings returned to the playoffs buoyed by the great play of their captain Anze Kopitar. But by the end of the year, the Kings were entrenched as the worst team in the NHL.
Where the Kings go in 2019 is anyone’s guess. However, before we turn the page on 2018, let’s look back at the year that was.
Best Player: Anze Kopitar
Without a doubt, the best player to suit up for the Kings in 2018 was Anze Kopitar. The team captain had the best offensive season for a Kings player in nearly 25 years becoming the first player to get to 90 points since Wayne Gretzky in 1994.
Kopitar also had career highs in goals (35), assists (57), and points (92) and did this while also playing his strong defensive game. By elevating his game, the Kings were able to return to the playoffs after missing it the year before.
Kings’ Kopitar comfortably wins second Selke https://t.co/NWDpZ6N2vO
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) June 21, 2018
Kopitar was nationally recognized for his efforts. He won the Selke Award as the best defensive forward in the league and became the first Kings player to be a finalist for the Hart Trophy since Wayne Gretzky.
Best Moment: Kings clinch playoff berth
Hey @LAKings fans!
— NHL (@NHL) April 5, 2018
On April 4th, the Kings clinched a playoff berth after a year absence. The Kings were not on the ice when it happened, though. They clinched their spot as result of the St. Louis Blues losing to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Nonetheless, it was a successful campaign as the Kings improved by 12 points (86 to 98) to clinch a spot. When the season began, the Kings were a team in turmoil having fired both their coach and general manager. But by April, the Kings had completed a great turnaround.
Players like Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Drew Doughty all had career highs in points. And Jonathan Quick returned from an injury plagued season to become a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the leagues best goaltender.
Worst Moment: Kings Fire John Stevens
Kings fire John Stevens, name Willie Desjardins interim coach — but the changes might not end there. “We’re evaluating these players just as much as we were the staff," said Kings GM Rob Blake. More from @THNJaredClinton:https://t.co/1M7BPuz68z pic.twitter.com/MmSjzvndez
— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) November 4, 2018
If the beginning of 2018 was a success for the Kings then the end was a nightmare. To start their 2018-19 NHL season the Kings were in last place in the standings.
The Kings could not find the net placing last in goals scored. They were the worst on the power play, and uncharacteristically bad on the penalty kill as well.
However, 13 games into the season at 4-8-1 general manger Rob Blake had seen enough and fired head coach John Stevens. For Stevens, the man elevated to the top job just a year earlier it was a swift end. Despite getting the Kings back to the playoffs, he was done.
Here’s to more Kings hockey in 2019.