May 22, 2014

steve laidlaw

2014-05-22

So, about that third period…

 

I really did not see that outburst coming at all but well done by the Kings. They needed a greasy goal to get the lid off at the end of the second but once it was off the goals poured in.

 

Jeff Carter got himself a hat-trick in the third period alone. Just an explosive offensive player. He had four points in total to bring him into a tie for second in playoff scoring with 16. That leaves three Kings atop the scoring charts. Unreal.

 

You probably shouldn't get overly excited about all this scoring by the Kings. They've proven in three seasons under Darryl Sutter that they just aren't much of an offensive squad, ranking 26th in five-on-five scoring over the past three seasons. Of course, everything changes once the playoffs begin.

 

This season has been particularly special because not only have they beefed up their scoring at even strength but the Kings have also needed to enhance an anemic power play unit that ranked 27th in the league at 15.1% during the regular season. That's up to 24.1% in these playoffs.

 

That's either incredible timing or impeccable luck. Either way, it's been fortunate for a Kings team that has faced elimination five times already these playoffs.

 

I'm particularly intrigued by two Kings forwards – Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar. Obviously they've developed some chemistry together as elite skilled players are wont to do but the big question is whether it can continue over an extended period.

 

With Gaborik the main concern is injuries. How does the saying go – once burned, twice shy? Okay, so how shy is one after a dozen burns? By all accounts Gaborik is set to re-sign with the Kings though so the table is set for him to go off. If (IF) he can stay healthy.

 

Kopitar is intriguing because he's more of a two-way forward used to shutdown opponents' best. We've seen that such deployments can limit a skilled player's upside and it almost surely has Kopitar's. On the other hand, we just watched Krejci parlay an excellent playoff run into a big offensive year. Kopitar could certainly carry his playoff momentum into a big next season.

 

Personally, I'd let someone else buy into the hype on these two but I'm naturally skeptical.

 

A couple more to get hyped up about are Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, Carter's linemates for much of last night's magic. Obviously the reason to get hyped is what went down in that third period explosion. Enough games like that and you can justify the presence of Pearson or Toffoli on your roster.

 

Again, I'm naturally skeptical so I wouldn't be buying the hype at the prices likely being demanded but you can certainly justify it.

 

One player who these playoffs have not been friendly to is Mike Richards, who did manage an assist last night. Pension Plan Puppets take a look at Richards' decline since being dealt to the Kings:


Richards is getting worse earlier than everyone expected, and there’s no hiding from that. His current contract tells you all you need to know about what people expected of him at this point in his career. So yes, his production has fallen off, but a lot of our expectations may have been based on a few hot (read: lucky) power play seasons that came earlier in his career than they do for most. You have to wonder though: would his production increase if he switched back to C on the power play?

 

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After gushing about the Kings' offensive explosion it's worth mentioning that Jonathan Quick had to be stellar to keep the Kings in this one early. He pulled a few Houdini