Los Angeles Kings: How Much Does Jeff Carter Injury Hurt Playoff Chances?
"Carter underwent an MRI exam and it revealed a deep bone bruise and no structural damage. He is day-to-day."
Since this tweet, rumors have surfaced about the true state of Carter's ankle. The rumors suggest that Carter has been playing with a mixed group of first- and second-line players including the first-line power play team.
This should come as a huge relief to Kings faithful as their team prepares for their first postseason series against the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks.
This does not mean that Carter, or the Kings, is out of the woods yet.
The injury required Carter to miss the final five games of the season and has taken him off the ice for just as long. Even if Carter comes back, he will most likely suffer some rusty play, more soreness or complications that could prolong his time away from his team.
Carter is currently listed as day-to-day by the Kings, but a cautious approach is expected to be taken while assessing Carter's ankle.
Since joining the team in February, Carter has proven himself to be a key part in the Kings offense, and has earned the Mark Bavis Memorial Award for the best newcomer to the Kings organization.
If the rumors are true, than the Kings will have their new-found star right wing as they face off against last year's Western Conference champions. If the rumors are false, however, then the Kings are going to have to bounce back well in order to keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive.
If Carter does not return to play, can the Kings upset Vancouver?
First and foremost, Carter brings a history of playoff experience to the Kings from his days with the Philadelphia Flyers where he played in nearly 50 playoff games and scored 13 goals along with eight assists. Without Carter on the ice, the Kings will loose not only a leader for their team, but a player that has proven that he can perform in the postseason.
Secondly, now that Carter is gone, the Vancouver defense has only two real scoring threats to focus on: Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. When Carter was first picked up, the Kings were suffering from Kopitar and Brown being consistently shut by opposing defenses, but once Carter was thrown in the mix, the offensive attacks became three-pronged and the Kings offense benefited greatly from it.
Without Carter, the Kings are in danger of returning to a state that resembles their pre-Carter days.
Thirdly, I've noticed that the Kings were suffering from a lack of depth before Carter was brought in. Injuries and poor play were forcing the Kings management to call up prospects and rookies before their time and it showed on the ice.
If Carter is benched then his replacement will either be cold or unproven going into their series with Vancouver. The Kings can't afford to have anything less than their best on the ice at all times. This is just not possible with Carter not being available.
Finally, when Carter was traded to the Kings from Columbus, he was reunited with longtime linemate, Mike Richards. Since then, both Carter and Richards' numbers have gone up significantly. This can't just be coincidence, it was to be a chemistry that has developed between the two that has allowed the two to get back on top of their game.
Carter had a similar effect on Dustin Brown. Again, when Carter joined the Kings, Brown's numbers returned to former glory and Carter's numbers were boosted as a result as well.
So in conclusion, if Carter doesn't play against the Canucks then the Kings will be hard pressed to come away with the upset. The production, chemistry and depth will just not be there.
With Carter, the team has a chance to make a run for the Cup, it's a stretch, but it's still a chance. Without him, the Kings will have to be not only creative, but a bit lucky in order to advance to the next round of play against either San Jose or St. Louis.
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