Stock Up, Stock Down for Los Angeles Kings' Top Stars
Now they're back, looking exactly like the team the hockey world expected them to be: elite goaltending, strong team defense and physical, puck possession-based play.
The stars of the team sacrifice individual stats and accomplishments in favor of playing Darryl Sutter's system.
Here's a look at the each of the Kings' star players' stock with a month remaining in the season.
Jeff Carter has played 10 fewer games than most of his teammates, yet he leads the Kings with 24 goals and is second in points with 43.
Carter's strong performance at the Olympics has continued in L.A. He has four goals and two assists for six points in seven games and has scored the game-winner in two of his past four contests. He also hasn't recorded a minus rating in a game since January.
Carter's effort in all three zones hasn't changed in recent months. He chips in on defense, backchecking and covering the points well and is also good in transition.
With the acquisition of Marian Gaborik, Carter is back playing with longtime friend Mike Richards. Expectations should be high for the pair going forward, especially if Tyler Toffoli is on Richards' other wing.
Drew Doughty was dominant at the Olympics, especially on offense, with six points in six games. In the NHL, Doughty continues to eat up minutes, leading the attack and playing a shutdown role against some of the Western Conference's top stars.
He’s a rover, he plays forward and defense it seems like out there. I mean, he’s no slouch defensively at all from what I’ve seen. I know he lays some big hits, plays well defensively, and is a guy that when he’s on the ice, you need to be aware at all times because he can jump into the play and be a threat to score.
Doughty's stock is steady because he continues to perform at a very high level, as he has throughout the season. He remains in contention for the Norris Trophy but will have a tough time beating out his Canadian Olympic teammate Duncan Keith for the award.
After a shaky start to the 2013-14 season, Jonathan Quick has turned things around in a big way and looks more like the goaltender who has been nearly unbeatable in the playoffs the past two years.
The 28-year-old didn't let a disappointing Olympic run with Team USA affect his performance in the slightest. In fact, Quick has won five consecutive games since the break, allowing just five goals in that span.
Also, despite sharing the net with Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens this season, only three goalies in the league have more shutouts than Quick's four, and each has played more games than the Kings' netminder.
Quick looks confident in the crease. He is playing the angles well and doing a great job controlling rebounds. With the playoffs a month away, look for Quick to be the Kings' most valuable player and rack up a couple more shutouts.
An injury-filled season—including a broken collarbone—has limited Marian Gaborik to 25 games. He's scored six goals and eight assists for 14 points, below-average numbers for the 32-year-old.
Acquired from Columbus at the deadline for Matt Frattin and draft picks, Gaborik has yet to have an impact in L.A.
In three games, he's registered zero points, a plus-one rating and seven shots, playing on the first line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.
However, it's important not to judge the Slovakian on such a small sample size. His stock may be falling now, but it could rise quickly if he puts up a couple of points in a game. Look for Darryl Sutter to keep this line together down the stretch.
After an inspiring run with Team Slovenia at the Olympics, Anze Kopitar returned to the NHL, where he is one of the hottest players in recent weeks and one of the major contributors to the Kings' winning streak.
He has three goals and five assists for eight points in seven games, including two game-winners. Kopitar has been a little more aggressive with the puck at times, looking to shoot in circumstances where he'd normally pass automatically.
This, combined with his elite hockey sense, great skating and playmaking abilities, allows Kopitar to be one of the most dynamic and often underrated players in the game.
Kopitar's stock should continue to rise gradually toward the playoffs, where he will be the most important piece up front for L.A.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com