If you haven’t been paying attention through the playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings offense is turning heads.
Through 17 playoff games they’ve scored 56 goals (over three per game) and took a 2-1 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks with a 4-3 win on Saturday night. So what has unlocked L.A.’s offensive explosion? According to coach Darryl Sutter, it’s Marian Gaborik.
“Well, we scored just over three a game the whole playoffs,” Sutter said. “Since the Olympic break, I think, you know, probably getting Gabby coming here makes a difference because it spreads it around. I don’t think it’s one thing in particular. I don’t think it’s a one-line deal.
“Kopitar’s line didn’t score a goal. Got to spread it around. Wasn’t a problem for us in the 48 games and last year’s playoffs. It got to be made an issue, which wasn’t something I was ever really worried about this year.”
Since arriving from Columbus in a trade deadline day deal, Gaborik had 16 points in 19 games in the regular season and has 15 points in 17 games in the playoffs, good for third on the team. His nine goals in the postseason are best in the league.
As for spreading it around, look at last night’s goal scorers. Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli are on the same line and Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov are on the blue line. We’ve seen Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams play major roles as well.
Spreading it around in the postseason is a good way to make sure the opponents can’t zero in any one player. That’s the mark of a truly dangerous team.
The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or NHL.tv at 3 p.m. ET.
With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.
Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? NHL.com and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game. NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’re both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone: