The Los Angeles Kings will win the Stanley Cup because that is exactly what they are built to do.
For years general manager Dean Lombardi has sought out heavy, skilled forwards who can execute perfectly the possession game plan of coach Darryl Sutter. The Kings have known modest success in the regular season using this model, but the time for it to shine is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, because that is when it is most effective.
The only forward on the roster who is shorter than 6-foot-1 and weighs less than 195 pounds is Kris Versteeg. Everyone else up front is a beast, and that group is tough enough for an opponent to deal with for one game. But whichever defense corps crosses the Kings' path during the course of the playoffs should remain in your thoughts and prayers for having to face these forwards at least four times in a row.
That is not suggest the Kings are a team of bruising goons who intimidate their way to victory. Far from it.
Video: LAK@DAL: Kopitar dangles for the score to extend lead
The heavy forwards include Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Milan Lucic, Tyler Toffoli and a number of similarly large players who can forecheck and provide support offensively, including Vincent Lecavalier, who has found new life after a trade from the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Kings have skill and are built around an elite player in his prime at each position.
After a sluggish start to the season Kopitar has been a top-five point producer since the start of December, a 6-foot-3, 224-pound mix of speed, skill and strength who fits the Kings identity perfectly and can lead the way offensively.
On defense Drew Doughty does it all. He averaged 28:01 of ice time per game, a number that likely will rise sharply in the playoffs, and he does so at an extremely high level and in all situations. Having Doughty on the ice for half the game is an advantage that can't be overstated.
Video: WPG@LAK: Quick dives to make a barehand save in OT
Then there's goaltender Jonathan Quick, who has built his career largely through his performances at this time of year. Quick has a career save percentage of .923 in 76 playoff games, which is more than a full regular season's worth of work for a typical starting goaltender. Only once in eight seasons has he had a regular-season save percentage as high as his average in the playoffs.
The Kings simply have too many ingredients not to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in five seasons. They have experience, talent, size, coaching, depth and goaltending.
Find a weakness. Just try.