Los Angeles Kings

Western Conference Final Grades for Each Los Angeles Kings Line

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IMay 30, 2014

Western Conference Final Grades for Each Los Angeles Kings Line

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks played an uncharacteristic Game 5, with a number of defensive lapses and weak goals scored by each team.

    The Kings failed to take advantage of a great opportunity to eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champions, losing 5-4 in double overtime.

    Every line had an impact in the extended contest, as has been the case for much of the playoffs for Darryl Sutter's squad.

    With that in mind, here are the grades for the Kings' lines in the Western Conference Final so far.

Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Grade: B+

    This line was spectacular offensively throughout the playoffs until it ran into Jonathan Toews, one of the few players in the league who can counter Anze Kopitar at both ends of the rink.

    The Blackhawks limited chances early in the series, but this line got things rolling in Game 5. Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown each had a goal and an assist, while Kopitar recorded a single helper.

    But it wasn't enough, as the Kings failed to eliminate the Blackhawks.

    However, another strong performance from this trio should help push the Kings into the Stanley Cup Final. Kopitar's playmaking ability, Gaborik's shot and Brown's physicality make this one of the most dynamic and lethal lines in hockey.

    Their speed through the neutral zone and quick passes in the offensive zone make them a tough matchup even for the highly skilled Blackhawks.

Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Grade: A+

    They are commonly referred to as "That '70s Line," but they score like it's the '80s.

    In five games in the Western Conference Final, Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli have each registered at least one point in every game except one. In Game 5 on Wednesday, Toffoli was held off the scoresheet. But he did record three shots and played a playoff-high 20 minutes, 29 seconds in the double-overtime game.

    Overall, the line has combined for an incredible nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points in the series.

    With each player over 6'0" tall and weighing around 200 pounds, the trio uses its size and speed to generate chances off the rush and forecheck and cycle effectively. If this line can continue to produce at this rate, the Kings shouldn't have a problem getting to the Stanley Cup Final.

Dwight King, Mike Richards, Justin Williams

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    Bill Smith/Getty Images

    Grade: B-

    This trio has been all over the lineup this season.

    Mike Richards was up and down the lineup, Justin Williams was on the first line for a long time and Dwight King was scratched this year.

    Now they form a solid two-way line that has a lot to offer physically. Because of their speed and skill, they can play against just about any Chicago line.

    The trio has combined for one goal and seven assists for eight points and a minus-one rating in the series. Richards has been streaky in the faceoff circle, while King hasn't put enough pucks on net. The line must find a level of consistency in Game 6 at both ends of the rink.

    Jarret Stoll has also spent time on this line in place of Richards.

Kyle Clifford, Jarret Stoll, Trevor Lewis

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Grade: C+

    The fourth line has undergone a few changes in the series—most notably, Mike Richards was on for the double-overtime goal in Game 5. Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford each finished a disappointing minus-three on the night.

    Jarret Stoll has been dynamite in the faceoff dot in the series and has won 57.3 percent of his draws in the postseason. Clifford has been a wrecking ball with 53 hits thus far. Lewis has been good defensively, but has yet to register a point after tallying five in the first two series.

    Overall, their play has been average. They must forecheck more effectively and slow the Blackhawks down with their physical play.

    With the skill that's present on the other three lines, this isn't a group that should need to contribute offensively to help the Kings win.

     

    Stats courtesy of NHL.com.

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