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Kings vs. Blackhawks: Los Angeles' Playmakers Can't Snooze Any Longer

Jun 1, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) clears the puck away from goalie Jonathan Quick (32) during the first period in game one of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2013

It's clear that the best player on the Los Angeles Kings is goalie Jonathan Quick. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year and has been stellar in this year's playoffs.

But Quick can't do it all by himself. He needs the timely scoring support that he got from his teammates last year if the Kings are going to get past the Chicago Blackhawks and win a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Kings had very little offense in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final. The only goal they scored in the opening 2-1 loss came off the stick of seventh-game hero Justin Williams in the first period when he jumped on a loose puck and sent it skittering past Corey Crawford.

The Kings manufactured very few threats against the Blackhawks, as they were outshot 36-22. In that first period, Chicago had a notable 17-2 margin.

Shots on goal don't always reflect the way a period or a game is played, but it was a factor for the Kings in Game 1. They were victimized by the Blackhawks' noted puck possession game.

Los Angeles is down one game in series and there is nothing for head coach Darryl Sutter to panic about. But it does need to find its offense quickly, or it could find itself down 2-0 or 3-0.

Specifically, the Kings need more from Anze Kopitar, their best offensive player. He has scored two goals in the postseason and he was quite hard to find on the ice against Chicago. Kopitar had one shot on goal in 19:10 of ice time.

We're not picking on Kopitar, but when the best player starts to produce, it makes things a lot easier for the rest of the team.

The Kings may have won their first two rounds against the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks, but it wasn't due to their ability to put the puck in the net. They have scored 27 goals in 14 games, giving them a none-too-robust average of 1.93 goals per game.

That is not going to get it done. A year ago, the Kings did not set records with their offensive display, but they averaged 2.85 goals per game—a significant difference from their production level  this year.

Defenseman Matt Greene said that last year's playoff magic won't help the Kings this year and that they need to find some offense.

“This year’s a new year. That’s it," Greene told NHL.com. "You’ve got to get over what happened last year, and we’ve got to figure out a way to get some offense going here."

Sutter knows his team is not producing and has been able to ride the coattails of its outstanding goalie during the postseason.

He knows that they are still in a good position and that one win in Chicago will turn this series around, whether it comes in Game 2, 5 or 7.

But they need production to do it. Whether it's Kopitar getting into a spot between the circles and firing home a deft wrister, Jeff Carter using his speed to outflank the defense or Dustin Brown bulling his way to the net, the Kings need to find some consistent offense to threaten the Blackhawks.

That's a must. Getting three goals a game should be enough for a team with a spectacular goalie like Quick. The Kings have played 33 games in the last two postseasons, and they have not given up more than three goals in any of those games, according to ESPN.

But it's not just about Quick standing on his head. The Los Angeles offense has to wake up and find the back of the net now.

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