Pass-Fail Marks for Los Angeles Kings' Top Stars as 2013-14 Season Winds Down
The Los Angeles Kings have all but secured a playoff spot. Although they have come up well short of taking the Pacific Division title, the Kings appear to be coming together at the right time.
With just a few weeks left in the season and a date with the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the postseason looming, it's time to look back at some individual performances from the 2013-14 season.
What's the deal with the captain? Is Drew Doughty Norris-worthy? Is Jonathan Quick living up to the hype?
These and other questions are examined as the Kings' top stars are assessed "pass" or "fail" marks for the season.
Note: Marian Gaborik is not included because of his limited time with L.A.
Drew Doughty: Pass
Drew Doughty is having a great campaign—perhaps his best overall since being nominated for the Norris Trophy in 2009-10.
He has eight goals and 26 assists for 34 points in 69 games this season. While this may be a low point total compared to other defensemen in the running for the Norris, considering that L.A. is one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL, Doughty's numbers are impressive.
He's also had success defending the top forwards from the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.
If the Kings are going to make another deep playoff run, Doughty will need to build off his strong performances of late.
Anze Kopitar: Pass
Anze Kopitar got off to a slow start offensively, but overall he has been the key up front for L.A.—as usual.
He has 21 goals and 36 assists for 57 points in 69 games. Decent stats, but he is capable of producing more. In fact, that puts him on pace for 66 points, which would be his lowest points-per-game average since the 2008-09 season.
With that said, Kopitar doesn't get the credit he deserves for the impact he has in other areas of the game. Few players have the combination of strength, speed and vision that Kopitar has.
He's done a great job controlling the puck and making quick decisions with it regardless of the situation. He's also played well without the puck and has rarely been caught out of position defensively.
Dustin Brown: Fail
As the captain of a team that's recently won a Stanley Cup, there is pressure on Dustin Brown. Add to that an eight-year, $47 million contract that kicks in next season and the pressure grows significantly.
The 29-year-old American has underperformed and there isn't a good explanation for it. He's been healthy for most of the year and head coach Darryl Sutter has tried mixing up his linemates. Brown just hasn't been able to produce, notching just 22 points in 66 games.
The Kings need Brown to be a dominant power forward, go into the tough areas, retrieve the puck and score in tight both at five-on-five and on the power play.
The question now is whether he can turn it on in time for the playoffs.
Jeff Carter: Pass
Jeff Carter has missed 10 games this season, but leads the team with 24 goals and is second behind Anze Kopitar with 44 points.
After finishing fourth in the Rocket Richard Trophy race last season, Carter continues to show he's one of the world's best snipers. Carter has also made improvements defensively and has been more effective on the breakout this year.
The Kings have a difficult time scoring as it is. It's hard to imagine where they would be without Carter.
Look for the 29-year-old to be among the postseason scoring leaders if the Kings return to the Western Conference Final for a third consecutive year.
Mike Richards: Fail
Mike Richards has quietly gone through this season, not receiving anything near the amount of criticism Dustin Brown has.
As the Kings' second-line center, Richards is expected to be strong on the forecheck and act as a playmaker in the offensive zone. With just nine goals and 30 assists for 39 points, Richards is on pace for one of his worst statistical seasons since his rookie year.
He's also the only player on the team who has played more than half the season and has a minus rating.
Richards is a player who has won just about everything at every level and has been a leader on most of those championship teams.
For the Kings to have success in the playoffs, he doesn't need to be their best player, but he will need to contribute more offensively.
Jonathan Quick: Pass
It's hard to imagine Jonathan Quick ever having a season that would be considered below average.
The American netminder got off to a bit of a slow start this season and at times was overshadowed by some remarkable performances from Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones. However, he's returned to form down the stretcj and appears poised to lead the Kings deep into the playoffs.
Quick is 21-15-2 with a .914 save percentage, 2.10 goals-against average and four shutouts. Don't be surprised if his save percentage ends up above .930 and his GAA below 2.00 come playoff time.