Ranking the 5 Most Crucial Players to Los Angeles Kings' Playoff Hopes
Every team needs their big players to play like big players, and there is no time during the season where this is more a necessity than the playoffs.
Last year the Kings got huge performances from their top players, and a lot of great performances from their supporting cast. It's that balance which makes a team strong, competitive and deadly.
Where the Kings are going to end up in terms of seeding has yet to be decided, but that is somewhat irrelevant. No matter where the team places they are going to need some big performances from these players.
Oh captain, my captain.
Dustin Brown was a massive presence last year in the postseason. He was both physically and offensively dominant during most of the series he played in.
At a near point-per-game pace in last year's playoffs, the team will be hoping for a similar sort of performance this May and June. While he's had a decent season—all things considered—the Kings captain has been cold as of late and has just two goals in his last 10 games.
As an outside contender for last year's Conn Smythe it'll be huge if the Kings could get a similar playoff situation. Everyone saw just how important a part he played last year.
Let's be frank and just say that Quick hasn't had the year we all hoped for. That can still all change, though.
In a regular season you could describe as inconsistent and somewhat disappointing, Quick is just starting to eclipse a .900 save-percentage. It's going to be a tall order to ask him to match his ridiculous .946 average from last playoffs, or to match his Conn Smythe winning performances.
Nonetheless, Quick is a crucial part to this team's success. There is no doubt that when he is on his game he can steal not just one or two games, but an entire series. The playoffs are like a new season, and maybe Quick can gain some confidence in knowing things start anew come game one.
He's a battler, and it will be very interesting to see how his postseason goes. If the Kings want to run deep it'll be partially on the back of the young goaltender. He's proven he can do it before, can he do it again?
The Kings top goal scorer is going to have to be on his game in the playoffs.
After a season that has put him in contention for the Maurice Richard trophy, Carter is going to be smothered going forward. However, he's a crafty goal-scorer and has dealt with such pressures before.
Not always considered a big-game performer from his days in Philly, Carter shook that description last year and this year with big goals, big games, and inspired play. He has been a major part in the Kings total offensive turnaround from this year compared to last.
It is a scoring-by-committee-style team, but the Kings are going to want Jeff Carter to take the lead. If he gets hot, watch out.
Eating big minutes, quarterbacking the power play, and matching up against the other teams top forwards. Just another day in the life of 23-year-old Drew Doughty right?
Last year Doughty played an incredibly impressive Stanley Cup playoffs, and he proved once again that, like in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, he is a big game player. He was outstanding all postseason and made a significant difference with his puck movement, defensive coverage, offensive prowess and physical play.
Doughty has been hot here towards the end of the season, and the monkey from earlier in the year is seemingly off his back. Could we be looking at an even better postseason from Doughty this year? Hard to imagine, but certainly possible.
Yes, the performance of Mike Richards is a little more crucial then that of Anze Kopitar.
Richards is the depth center. Everyone expects Kopitar to be Anze Kopitar; you know what you are getting with the big Slovenian.
Richards, however, has a role that is much more crucial this year. If Richards and his linemates get hot, it opens up the ice for the first line and Anze Kopitar. If Richards disappears it lays all pressure on the first line for the offensive load. Kings fans have seen this happen before, and it was part of the problem last season when the team couldn't find scoring from multiple sources.
It's hard to say that the second line center's role is more crucial than the first line center, but in this case it's true. While Richards is a major penalty killer and defensive cog in the Kings system, it's going to be a massive contributing factor to the team's overall success if he can get himself and his linemates going offensively.
Scoring from all lines was something that frustrated teams last season, and Richards was a big part of that in the playoffs once he and his linemates became a threat.