Remember when the Los Angeles Kings didn’t seem capable of regularly scoring more than two goals per game? Probably, because it wasn’t that long ago.
The Kings scored at least three goals in just six of their previous 26 contests when they acquired Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The 32-year-old forward was coming off a rough and injury-riddled stint with Columbus, but he quickly developed on-ice chemistry with Anze Kopitar, which gave the Kings the flexibility to move Jeff Carter to the second line. That proved to be a great shakeup as the Kopitar and Carter lines provided the Kings with an effective one-two punch throughout the playoffs.
Los Angeles averaged 2.32 goals per game prior to the trade, but that jumped to 2.74 for the remainder of the season and 3.38 during the playoffs (up from 2.85 goals per game during the 2012 Cup-winning playoff run). The Kings inked Gaborik to a seven-year extension, but will that be enough to keep their offense dominant or did they simply get hot at the right time?
One thing to keep in mind is that even if you accept the premise that Gaborik was the missing piece of the puzzle the Kings needed to make everything click, then that still wouldn’t make them a safe bet to be prolific scorers going forward. If their offense is really that dependent on Gaborik then they are only as reliable as he is and his long injury history makes it hard to know what to expect from him going into any given year.
That being said, their spark wasn’t just about Gaborik. Rookies Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson also stepped up in the playoffs to give the Kings some much needed scoring depth. Then there was Justin Williams, who always seems to excel when the stakes are high, but was superb even by his high postseason standards as he earned the Conn Smythe Trophy after recording 25 points in 26 playoff games.
There’s also the question of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, who had 50 and 41 points in the regular season respectively. As mentioned above, Carter stepped up in the playoffs while Richards did not, but both of them have previously been far more productive than they were in the 2013-14 regular season and remain significant threats going forward.
So the Kings are a team with the tools to be very effective offensively, but one of the things that they have going for them is that they don’t necessarily have to be. This is also a squad that’s capable of winning low-scoring games as it was their defense and goaltending that highlighted their 2012 Stanley Cup championship. If the go cold offensively after their strong showing in the playoffs then that will be a problem, but it won’t necessarily be a crippling one.
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