Marian Gaborik

Can the Kings keep scoring?

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The Los Angeles Kings scored an impressive 2.85 goals per game in the 2012 playoffs en route to winning the Stanley Cup, but that’s been dwarfed by their current average of 3.48.

Over the last four years, only two teams have finished their runs with a higher offensive average than that — the 2012 Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, which played in a first round series that was devoid of defense or goaltending.

It’s hard to see the Kings maintaining their current pace, especially when you consider that they ranked 26th offensively (2.42) in the regular season, but then again, this isn’t exactly the same team.

The Kings seem to find their missing link when they acquired Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline. After struggling to get anything going in Columbus, Gaborik has recorded 19 points in the playoffs, including a league-high 12 goals. His presence has pushed Anze Kopitar to another level and gave them the luxury of moving Jeff Carter off the top line.

Carter has instead played regularly with 22-year-old Tyler Toffoli and 21-year-old Tanner Pearson and helped the youngsters shine in the playoffs. Throw in Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, and factor in the possibility that Mike Richards might still step up and it suddenly doesn’t sound so unreasonable to say that the Kings can maintain this level of production.

Unless their success has been based on misleading circumstances. The Kings haven’t faced the best goaltending in the playoffs, from San Jose’s Antti Niemi, who had been inconsistent all season, to the Anaheim Ducks’ messy situation that culminated in 20-year-old rookie goalie John Gibson opposing them, to Chicago’s good, but not elite goaltending from Corey Crawford.

New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist will be by far their biggest test yet. He’s one of the best players of this generation and has allowed more than two goals in just five of his 20 playoff starts. He’ll enter this series with a 2.03 GAA and .928 save percentage.

As good as the Kings’ offense has been, they might have finally met their match.

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Penguins renew acquaintances on Rivalry Night

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Tonight, there’s a big Metropolitan Division showdown at Consol as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Rangers. You can catch the game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET), or watch live online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

Rangers ‘are doing a lot of good things’

‘I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

Malkin (lower body) to miss rest of week

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week

 

 

PHT Morning Skate: It’s not like they robbed a bank

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley seems pretty chill about healthy-scratching Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Lance Bouma. That goes for Monahan and Gaudreau in particular, noting that they’re “great kids.”

Besides … it’s not like they robbed a bank. (NHL.com)

Uh oh, did Nazem Kadri make the throat-slashing gesture to Mark Giordano? See for yourself in the video above. (Puck Daddy)

What should the New York Islanders do with unrestricted free agent Kyle Okposo, who’s enjoying a productive contract year? (The Hockey News)

What a playoff berth would mean to the Florida Panthers. (Sportsnet)

Checking in with various teams as the trade deadline looms. (NHL Numbers)

On the Canucks using those Pavel Bure-era jerseys. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Despite tough fight, Stars hand Wild their sixth straight loss

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The Minnesota Wild put together the kind of effort that would beat a lot of NHL teams on Tuesday. Unfortunately for that beleaguered group, it wasn’t enough to edge the Dallas Stars.

Despite generating 40 shots on goal and generating 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Wild lost to the Stars 4-3 in overtime. With that, they’ve lost six straight games.

(The view doesn’t get much prettier if you pull away a little further, either, as Minnesota’s only won once in the last month, going 1-9-2 in their last 12.)

Ultimately, the Stars’ big guns were too powerful. Tyler Seguin generated two assists and so did Jamie Benn, who set up John Klingberg‘s overtime game-winning goal.

Again, the effort sure seemed to be there for the Wild, even if they’re far beyond the point of accepting moral victories.

As frustrating as this must be, Minnesota’s not that far from a playoff spot. Still, it has to sting to see “Close, but not good enough” as a prevailing theme as of late.

Royal beating: Lucic, Kings crush Bruins 9-2

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The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.

You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.

Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.

Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.

This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.