The Los Angeles Kings have had a remarkable run so far in these playoffs.
They’ve knocked off the top three seeded teams in the West and have earned a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals. They’ve won all eight games on the road during the playoffs, and went 12-2 overall. And they did it all as a team.
You might be saying to yourself, “Well, duh.” It’s true that sometimes, one player or one part of the team carries the rest on their back. An outstanding goalie can make up for a lackluster offense, or a group of high-scoring forwards can alleviate the frustrations of an iffy defense. That hasn’t been the case for this Kings team during the playoffs. Contributions have come from all sides, and their balanced strength will make them an incredibly tough opponent for their Eastern Conference foe in the finals.
When discussing the playoff contributions of Los Angeles players, you can’t start anywhere else than with Jonathan Quick. He’s been absolutely outstanding, recording two shutouts – one against Vancouver and one against Phoenix – and maintaining a goals-against average of 1.54 and a save percentage of .946. He’s come up with some big-time saves, many times over. If the Kings lift the Cup at the end of the Finals, it would be hard to argue anyone else’s case for the Conn Smythe.
On top of an excellent goaltender, the Kings have a solid defensive core. Though Drew Doughty struggled for a good part of the regular season, he’s been playing well in the playoffs, with 10 points and a plus-10 rating. Guys like Matt Greene, Willie Mitchell, and Rob Scuderi have also played very well, contributing a combined seven points between them. The Kings have such a strong defense that only one player has a negative plus-minus rating – and he’s only played in three games.
To top it all off, Los Angeles has a strong group of forwards up front. The addition of Jeff Carter at the trade deadline provided the team with more depth, and they have been getting contributions from all four lines. Captain Dustin Brown leads the team in scoring in the playoffs with 16 points, and has been leading by example. Anze Kopitar is having a great playoff season as well, with 15 points. Former Flyers Mike Richards and Justin Williams both have 11 points, and the resurgence of Dustin Penner (10 points) has helped the team immensely.
The only place where the Kings are struggling is on special teams, and that’s only partially true. The team’s PK unit has been terrific. They’ve not allowed an opponent to score once on the power play all throughout the playoffs, and have scored five shorthanded goals themselves. Where they’re struggling is on the power play; they’ve scored just six goals on 74 PP opportunities (8.1 percent). They’re doing so well otherwise that that statistic usually falls to the wayside, but it is something that the team could improve on.
Whether it’s the Devils or the Rangers that the Kings end up facing in the Stanley Cup Finals, this Los Angeles team is going to be a doozy for anyone to beat. With all of the talent, depth, and overall skill throughout the roster that they possess, they sure do look like a team destined for Lord Stanley.