With the tension rising in a heated series between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings that now stands at two games apiece, let's take a moment to reflect back on the playoffs as a whole and talk about some of the team's more impressive players.
It's been all hands on deck as the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks have played tight checking series that have all but neutralized some of the team's best players. However, the Kings have received stellar play from stars and depth players alike. Moving forward, they will need more of the same if they want to continue the march toward a title defense.
Dustin Penner has really turned it on for the playoffs much like he did last season.
He's been an animal, and his puck pursuit and cycling have been relentless. He uses his giant 6'5", 245-pound body to an extreme advantage as he muscles players of the puck and generally just mows over opponents. Once he gets pumping on a dump in, it's like a bull in a china shop.
There is an attitude about Penner, an edge perhaps, that really gets into his game when it comes playoff time. While he only has two goals and one assist in the postseason thus far, he's been a handful for opposing players to try to battle with along the boards and move from in front of the net.
Not to mention Penner sports probably one of the best playoff beards on the team.
Mike Richards has been maybe the most solid all-around forward the Kings have had during the playoffs so far.
He currently leads the team in scoring with nine points in 10 games, and sports a plus-four rating to go along with it. Richards was a game changer in the St. Louis series. He had five points in six games and was out there for basically every big faceoff and end-zone draw the Kings had when the times were tense.
He's had four points in four games during the San Jose series, and while being roughed up in the dot by Joe Thornton a bit, he's still been a tremendous competitor this postseason.
Richards is one of those guys who is easy to miss during the game, but he makes the right decision 99 times out of 100 it seems. It'd be nice if the Kings offense was clicking around Richards, because he is having a tremendous playoffs so far.
Slava Voynov has scored some high-profile goals in this series, and all three of his postseason goals have been game-winners.
For such a young defenseman, only in his second postseason experience, Voynov has been poised under pressure. The 23-year-old has a team-high plus-six rating and is playing over 21 minutes a night. He's been on the second pairing and has been matched up against some very tough and grizzled veterans in the last two series.
However, under physically demanding series and high-stress situations, Voynov has taken a big step forward from his performance last year, which many considered a bit of a shaky postseason.
Aside from the gaffes in the first two games of the Blues-Kings series, it's been the Jonathan Quick show. Even in those games, he was tremendous on every other play except the decisive goals against.
Quick has had to deal with a ton of crashing of his crease, traffic in front and low-scoring affairs. Through it all, the Conn Smythe winner has persevered and honestly given his team a chance to win every single night. He's come up with timely saves and complete game changers seemingly every night.
It's a shame he hasn't gotten too much offensive support since he is carrying a fantastic .944 save percentage and a goals-against average that is well under two at 1.66.
If the Kings continue to succeed and move on in this year's postseason, it will be on the back of the 27-year-old Quick.
A lot of folks are talking about Drew Doughty these days like he hasn't been one of the best defenseman in the league.
Doughty has been a difference-maker every night.
Just like the playoffs last year, Doughty has come to play in 2013. While four points and a minus-one rating don't look that hot on the outside, watching Doughty game to game and seeing what a difference he makes is really something.
He's logging close to 30 minutes a night for the team, and overall, his play in both the offensive zone and the defensive zone has been stellar. He's out there against the other team's top forwards and he is handling them very well. His breakouts and vision on the ice are second to none both on the team and in most series he plays in.
Doughty has 20 blocked shots, which is 10th in the league. He currently has 26 hits, which is fourth on the team. He's second only to Zdeno Chara in terms of average ice time per night. Finally, he's quarterbacking the Kings' power play as well as averaging the most short-handed time on ice for the team.
He's a world-class defenseman, and he's been putting his skills on display on a nightly basis for the Kings during these playoffs.