Projected Roles for Each Los Angeles King Going to Sochi
The Los Angeles Kings have struggled as of late, losing five of six. Many of their star players need to step up—the same players who will be representing their countries at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in February.
While some, like Anze Kopitar, will play a starring role for their nation's team, others will need to adjust to playing at a different spot in the lineup.
It's also worth mentioning L.A. center Mike Richards, who was left off of the Canadian team. Richards played a key role at the Vancouver Games in 2010, where Canada captured gold for the second time in three Olympics.
With that said, here's a look at what role each King will play in Sochi.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
Dustin Brown is having a terrible season statistically compared to many of the forwards selected to the American team. Brown has notched just eight goals and six assists for 14 points in 42 games this season.
But, as Bleacher Report's Jonathan Willis points out, Brown will likely be asked to focus on defense rather than contribute offensively. Team USA has two talented scoring lines, which leaves Brown to play on a strong, two-way line that should match up against some of the world's top forwards.
Regardless of whether he steps up offensively in the next month, look for his role to remain the same at least early in the round-robin.
After leading the Kings to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in the process, Quick stood atop the Americans' list of goaltenders.
However, average performances this season and in 2012-13 mean he's not a lock to be the team's No. 1 netminder. Instead, he will likely split time with Ryan Miller during the round-robin portion of the tournament, before Dan Bylsma decides who to roll with for the elimination stage.
Quick is 11-5-1 with a .909 save percentage, 2.27 goals-against average and one shutout, while Ryan Miller—playing on a lackluster Sabres team—is 11-18-1 with a .927 save percentage and 2.64 GAA.
There is no player whose role is more certain than Anze Kopitar's with Slovenia.
He is by far their best player and the only one on the team currently playing in the NHL. Kopitar will center the team's top line and play as many minutes as physically possible. After all, the head coach is his father, Matjaz Kopitar.
The Slovenians were ranked 17th in the world and surprised many by qualifying as one of the 12 Olympic teams. They will need a monster effort from Kopitar and others if they hope to crack the top 10 in Sochi.
Widely publicized and heavily scrutinized was the announcement of Team Canada’s roster Tuesday, especially up front. While Jeff Carter, Patrick Marleau and Chris Kunitz made the squad to some surprise, the likes of Martin St. Louis, Logan Couture and Claude Giroux did not.
The pressure will be on Carter to score early and often throughout the tournament. While he may be assigned to the third or fourth line to start, the 29-year-old will likely factor in on the power play because of his quick release. And, depending on the health of Steven Stamkos, Carter could make an appearance in the top six.
Carter has 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points in 33 games with the Kings this season.
Considered one of the three locks on defense—along with Shea Weber and Duncan Keith—Doughty enters his second Olympics as one of the keys to Canada's gold medal hopes.
Doughty will likely be expected to play top-four minutes throughout the tournament. He will need to use his strength to outwork the world’s best forwards in corners and along the boards. And because of his speed and skill, he will be tasked with leading the rush and also playing a big role offensively.
Quarterbacking the power play and eating up minutes on the penalty kill will be nothing new for Doughty. He needs to be at the top of his game—as do Weber and Keith—if Canada is to repeat. What will make up for some potentially shaky goaltending is hard-nosed, mistake-free defense.
Set to play in his first Olympics for Russia is 23-year-old Slava Voynov. While it's difficult to predict where he will fit in on the blue line, it's possible he could play alongside veteran Andrei Markov.
At age 35, Markov has plenty of international experience, having played in multiple World Championships, Olympics and a World Cup. He would be a calming influence for Voynov and a player who could help create offense from the blue line.
Voynov should play an important role on the power play and in the breakout five-on-five as Russia looks to capture gold at home.