Though general manager Dean Lombardi has built a club that can withstand the grind of the regular season, L.A. also features a few players who are seemingly made for the heat of playoff battle.
Drew Doughty, Mike Richards and Jonathan Quick may only put forth ordinary seasons these days, but their postseason showings have been extraordinary of late.
Evidenced by two Olympic gold medals and a Conn Smythe-worthy playoff in 2012, Doughty is at his best in, well, best-on-best competition. He simply relishes the big stage, tightening his shutdown defense, ramping up his physicality and becoming even more dynamic with the puck.
Speaking with reporters during the Kings’ Cup run two years ago, fellow blueliner Willie Mitchell detailed Doughty’s knack for stepping up when it counts.
“He’s a bright-lights player. Always has been. When the game’s on the line, he likes that stage and he wants to be the guy who makes the difference. You don’t grow into that, I don’t think. It’s either in you or not in you,” he said.
Meanwhile, Richards is the consummate “flip the switch” three-zone pivot. Since the 2009-10 campaign, his regular-season points-per-game average is 0.67 (245 points in 364 games). Over that same span, his playoff PPG is 0.83 (57 points in 69 games).
His 57 points in that time frame rank third in the entire NHL...and he's a two-way forward.
He hounds the puck with great ferocity and delivers in the clutch, willing his team past the opposition like few can. He may not be the steady regular-season contributor that he was in Philadelphia anymore, but there isn’t a single NHL team that would willingly face the Kings with “playoff Richards” in the fold.
Then there’s Quick, who was named playoff MVP in 2012 and has appeared unbeatable to everyone but the Chicago Blackhawks in the past two playoff campaigns.
His regular-season save percentage since 2011-12 is a very solid .919. His playoff save percentage? A ridiculous .940.
Blessed with remarkable flexibility and compete level, Quick battles harder than any netminder in the league and saves—pun fully intended—his best for the most important moments.
In addition to steady, productive players such as Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, the Kings are fortunate enough to employ some of the sport’s truest gamers. In a tight series, they can make all the difference.