Los Angeles Kings' Most Impressive Players in Western Conference Final So Far
After trailing in their first two series, the Kings should now be considered the favorite to win the Stanley Cup.
A number of players have stepped up, most notably "That 70s Line" of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. This has helped the Kings go from one of the league's top defensive teams in the regular season to the playoff's best offensive squad.
Here is a look at the Kings' most impressive players of the series so far.
Tyler Toffoli has easily reached—and perhaps exceeded—the team's expectations for him early in his career.
He sits tied for third on the Kings with six playoff goals. He has racked up five assists for 11 points and has a plus-five rating in 18 games.
Via James Nicholson of LAKingsInsider.com, Toffoli spoke about the Game 4 win:
Obviously the score shows the first period we played really well, and the second period we kind of let it slide. We weren't putting as much pressure as we wanted to [on them]. The third period we tightened up and pulled through.
Toffoli has had success on a line with Carter and Mike Richards in the past, but he has elevated his play in the playoffs. The 22-year-old has shown great poise and composure against the Blackhawks. He's patient with the puck and back-checks effectively.
If he continues to contribute offensively, there won't be as much pressure on the Kings' top line to produce. And, L.A. should be in position to eliminate Chicago.
Tanner Pearson was passed over in two NHL drafts before the Kings finally took him 30th overall in 2012.
After playing just 25 games this season, Pearson finds himself on the most dominant line of the postseason.
The 21-year-old has made major improvements in his skating and defensive abilities. He's shown he can play a solid two-way game and take charge on the rush if needed.
Pearson has five points against the Blackhawks and three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 16 playoff games. That's four more points than he had in the regular season.
For L.A. to eliminate Chicago, Pearson must continue to play physical on the forecheck, protect the puck and go hard to the net.
Duncan Keith may have been the best defenseman in the regular season, but Drew Doughty is taking that title in the playoffs.
The 24-year-old blueliner has played more than 26 minutes in three of the four games in the series. He's done an incredible job of shutting down some of Chicago's top forwards with great positioning and physical play along the boards.
Doughty continues to be a catalyst offensively, leading the rush and quarterbacking the power play. After being held off the scoresheet in Game 1, Doughty has racked up five points in three games, including scoring the game-winner in Game 3 on a blast from the point.
With Robyn Regehr still out, Doughty must be ready to play extra minutes when needed and prepare for an offensive onslaught from the likes of Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane in Game 5.
Jeff Carter is having the best series of any player in the playoffs so far.
He centers a line with Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson that has dominated the Blackhawks in the offensive zone. The trio's ability to establish possession and cycle the puck is second-to-none. Carter in particular seems to be a step faster than he was early in the playoffs.
He has at least one point in each game of the series and back-to-back games with at least three points. The last L.A. player to do that in the postseason was Wayne Gretzky.
Carter has four goals and five assists for nine points in four games. If he keep this up, he will quickly work his way into the Conn Smythe Trophy conversation.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
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