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Aging Kings look to contend in competitive Pacific

September 25, 2018

Los Angeles Kings' Anze Kopitar (11) and Alex Iafallo (19) battle with Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) in the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game Monday, Sept., 24, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Jeff Swinger)

LOS ANGELES KINGS

LAST SEASON: 45-29-8, 98 points. Fourth place Pacific Division. Lost to Vegas Golden Knights in first round.

COACH: John Stevens (second season, sixth NHL season).

ADDED: LW Ilya Kovalchuk

LOST: D Christian Folin, D Kevin Gravel, RW Tobias Rieder, D Jordan Subban, G Scott Wedgewood

PLAYER TO WATCH: Anze Kopitar. The center and Kings captain had a 40-point improvement last season, going from 52 points to a career-high 92 and finishing third in voting for the league MVP. He should be part of a formidable line with the addition of Kovalchuk — who returns to the NHL after five seasons playing professionally in Russia — and Dustin Brown.

OUTLOOK: The Kings have not advanced past the first round of the playoffs since winning the Stanley Cup in 2014 and could be hard-pressed to advance this season. They have one of the oldest rosters in the league with nine players who are 30 or older. They also remain challenged to find consistent goal scorers beyond the first line.

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