Jeff Carter

Carter, King stay hot as Kings’ winning streak reaches five

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The defending Stanley Cup champions have been living up to that title lately. They’ve had a trying campaign, but Los Angeles is now on a five-game winning streak after earning a 3-2 victory against Tampa Bay.

Dwight King and Jeff Carter were once again major contributors. King had two assists, giving him seven points in his last four contests as part of the new look “70s Line.” Carter, another member of that trio, accounted for the game-winning goal.

Carter has two goals and five assists in his last four contests. He leads the team with 43 points in 56 games this season.

Los Angeles is two points shy of the second Wild Card spot, which is currently occupied by the San Jose Sharks. However, if the Kings stay hot they could do far better than a Wild Card seed. Currently just three points separate them and second place in the Pacific Division.

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King enjoying life on new-look ’70s Line’

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Right time, right place and right jersey number for Dwight King — the burly forward has been on fire since replacing the injured Tanner Pearson on Los Angeles’ “70’s Line” next to Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli.

“They’ve got great chemistry within themselves,” King said of his new linemates, per NHL.com. “For a large amount of time, they’ve been successful together. It’s been pretty easy for me to read off them. They’re both predictable players, and that makes it easy for myself. I’ve just got to go out there and work for them and create space and good things tend to happen.”

King, a natural fit with his No. 74 sweater, is thriving right alongside No. 77 (Carter) and No. 73 (Toffoli). The trio has combined for nine goals and nine assists the past four games — all Kings wins — and Toffoli was named the NHL’s second star of the week earlier today.

King, meanwhile, is on a career-high three-game scoring streak — he has five points over that stretch — and is five goals shy of his career high of 15, which he set last season.

This offensive explosion couldn’t have come at a better time. During a four-week stretch (from Jan. 3 to Feb. 3) in which the Kings had just three regulation wins, goals were hard to come by; the low point came during a three-game losing streak against Boston, Washington and Florida in which the defending Cup champs mustered just three goals.

Tonight, King and the Kings will look to make it five wins in a row when they host Tampa Bay at Staples. The 25-year-old is hopeful he and his linemates can keep rolling.

“We’ve been pretty good even when we haven’t been on the scoreboard, so that gets you into games a little more so than trying to fight for it,” he said. “It’s nice that they’ve been there.”

Look out: Carter, Toffoli power impressive Kings win

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Tonight is Jonas Hiller’s 33rd birthday, so the Calgary Flames gave him the gift of not having to face the Los Angeles Kings’ hot offense for a full 60 minutes.

After managing a 2-2 tie through two periods despite being heavily out-played, Hiller and the Flames caved in during the final frame.

Los Angeles scored three unanswered goals to chase Hiller about eight minutes into the third period, and while the Flames scored later on to make the score more presentable, there was no question which team owned the play on Thursday.

Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli’s impressive nights stood out the most among some dominant Kings performances.

Carter collected three assists, pushing his career points total to 501 by the end of the night. Toffoli scored an absolutely sublime goal to get a hat trick:

Yeah, not sure exactly what Hiller could have done there. He ultimately gave way to Karri Ramo after stopping 35 out of 40 shots.

Sure, there were moments when the Kings’ frustrating times still showed through, even while wearing their flashy throwback duds and as they carried much of the play. Jonathan Quick’s frustrations surfaced here and there, as you can see after this goal:

Overall, the Kings looked familiar even in their unusual uniforms, as they stand as the team many top West teams hope to avoid. They’ve won three games in a row and now find themselves just three points behind the Flames (with a game in hand) in the race to lock up a wild card spot.

(The Minnesota Wild are even hotter and have one more point than the Kings in one more game played, so it’s obvious that Los Angeles has to overcome more than Calgary’s Cinderella run …)

Anyway, the Kings have a long way to go to secure a playoff spot, but they’re starting to look like that world-beating bunch yet again. It’s one sequel that few outside of Hollywood look forward to seeing …

How much is a flawed asset like Evander Kane worth?

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Evander Kane is a flawed asset. For all his talent, which is considerable, after what happened last week, there are major concerns about the 23-year-old’s ability to fit in with teammates.

And make no mistake, that’s a big deal in hockey, where a group-first attitude and a willingness to buy in to a team approach are held in high regard.

Even those who are rolling their eyes right now and believe the concerns about Kane are overblown can agree that, to at least some degree, those concerns stand to hinder Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who’s expected to trade the young winger, either prior to the March 2 deadline or during the offseason.

Making matters even more challenging for Cheveldayoff? Kane just had shoulder surgery. So that’s another thing a potential trading partner will have to be convinced to, if not completely ignore, at least not worry too much about.

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, the “standard asking price” for “a very good young player with a friendly contract” like Kane is a “young NHL player, a grade-A prospect and a first-round draft pick.”

At first glance, that seems like a pretty big haul for a potential problem child like Kane. But let’s not forget, it wasn’t too long ago that some were calling Jeff Carter “completely untradeable” when he was unhappy in Columbus.

Carter, of course, ended up netting the Jackets Jack Johnson and a first-round pick, then won a couple of Stanley Cups in L.A.

That’s not to say Kane’s story will end up like Carter’s, or that they’re of equal worth. The point is, Cheveldayoff still has a pretty valuable asset to peddle.

As the Press writes, “Evander Kane will get traded. Maybe now or maybe in the summer. But it won’t be a yard sale.”

(Video) PHT Extra: We’ve finally started doubting the Kings

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For most of the season, Brough and I shrugged off concerns about the slumping L.A. Kings. Don’t worry, we said. They’ll be fine, we said. Defending Stanley Cup champs, we said.

Not anymore.

Having won just four games since Christmas, the Kings are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs and becoming the first reigning champ to miss the subsequent postseason since Carolina in 2007.

What’s more, the club’s terrible cap situation could prevent GM Dean Lombardi from pulling another trade deadline rabbit out of his hat, like in 2012 (with Jeff Carter) and last spring (with Marian Gaborik.)

In related news, Brayden McNabb — seen in the above video making an egregious mistake — will be replaced in the lineup tonight versus Florida by Jamie McBain.