Lacking, as it is, in good defensemen, Los Angeles can be expected to give up more than its share of goals, and this puts heavy pressure on the forwards. They were potent last season. Ed Joyal, Bill (Cowboy) Flett and Lowell MacDonald must repeat their good years, and much depends on the outcome of Kelly's search for a left wing.
Essentially the Kings are the same team that started 1967. In the scuffle with clubs that have not stood pat, the "best" in the West could be in trouble.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
Whatever else you say about Scotty Bowman, the young coach of the Blues, and his players, they obviously have the deepest, richest suntans in the NHL as the season begins. "We spent a week golfing, fishing and practicing in the Maritimes," said Bowman. "I believe hockey or any sport is at least 70% mental. Keep your players happy, and they'll play for you. Our players are happy."
And they play for Bowman, as they proved last year, coming from last place in December to third in April (only three points behind Philadelphia) and on into the Stanley Cup finals, where they astonished Montreal with the spirit and quality of their game. The Blues are strong again, particularly at center ice and in goal, where it is most important to be strong.
"People say we've added too much age in Jacques Plante  and Doug Harvey ," says Bowman. "But, really, this is a young club that can afford it." Glenn Hall, the best goaltender in the league when he is on his game, will split time with Plante, who is coming off a three-year retirement.
The Blues had difficulty scoring goals—particularly on the power play—so little Camille Henry, the ex-Ranger with the knack of flicking them in around the net, has been signed. Red Berenson leads the strong center corps, which includes Frank St. Marseille and Ron Schock. Ab McDonald, acquired from Pittsburgh, is a forward of above-average size and strength, and he could be in for a notable year, skating on a line with Berenson and Wing Tim Ecclestone, a converted center.
The schedule confronts St. Louis with East opponents in 12 of its first 21 games, so a fast start is unlikely, but as the suntans fade the Blues should be in the fight for the West title all the way.
MINNESOTA NORTH STARS
For most of last season the best act in Minnesota was not the North Stars, it was Wren Blair, their volatile coach and general manager, leaping onto the dasher to scream at the referee, waving his left fist in the face of a defenseman who had just cost the North Stars a goal, wiping his face with a towel, then throwing the towel 50 feet into the air.