The Los Angeles Kings have battled all season long and have been rewarded with their second consecutive Western Conference final appearance.
Despite being down in a very difficult series against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Kings have received some tremendous performances by a few noteworthy players. Performances good enough that if the Kings were to survive their encounter with the Blackhawks, they could really be in for a possible Conn Smythe victory.
Here are the Kings' front-runners thus far.
Mike Richards has been the Kings' best forward this postseason. Along with being the team's leading scorer with 10 points in 14 games, Richards has been a stalwart in the defensive end.
Often with Richards it's the little things. The things that don't show up on the stat sheet are what make him so valuable. Rarely does Richards lose his defensive zone coverage or make a poor decision with the puck.
This postseason, he's continued to do those things but has included an offensive potency. No doubt if Richards could get some offensive support from his linemates, he'd have much more points. Even so, he's still the most effective King forward on the ice and is having one heck of a postseason so far.
Drew Doughty has been stellar in the playoffs so far.
He's playing monster minutes, second only to Zdeno Chara, and matching up primarily against the other team's top players. It's been real tough for Doughty, and his minus-three can speak for that. However, if you're just looking at a box score or a stat sheet, it's hard to see what fantastic breakout passes and power-play quarterbacking Doughty has done.
He is a game changer, and when you watch him step on the ice and start to control the puck and the flow of the game, it can be a scary thing for opponents. Doughty has his hands full with some really high-end talent squaring off against him every night, but he has risen to the challenge.
This one is a no-brainer. Jonathan Quick, at one point, was leading all four major statistical categories for goalies in the playoffs, including save percentage, goals-against average and shutouts.
He has single-handedly kept games close and won games for the Los Angeles Kings with his tremendously athletic and timely saves. The Kings offense is giving its star goalie such little offensive support that he has had to win games with around one to two goals on the board for his team.
While he took his knock in Game 2 against the Blackhawks, Quick has been mentally solid and the real reason his team is at the point it is currently at. If and when the offense gets clicking, the Kings could be unstoppable. At this point, it's been a one-man show most nights.