Power Ranking the Top 10 Players for the Los Angeles Kings so Far in 2014-15
So much for a Stanley Cup hangover for the Los Angeles Kings. Well, at least that's what you would think after taking a glance at the standings. With a 6-1-2 start, the Kings are among the top teams in the NHL.
But they haven't done it with a well-rounded team performance we're accustomed to seeing. L.A. is a one-line team. The top line—Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson—is now referred to around the hockey world as "That 70's Line," and without it, it's tough to imagine where the Kings would be.
That's not to take away anything from stars like defenseman Drew Doughty and goaltender Jonathan Quick—who have excelled in their defensive duties—but without Carter's line, L.A. would have more losses than wins.
With that said, here are the Kings' top 10 players so far in 2014-15.
10. Matt Greene
Some say you shouldn't get credit for doing what you're supposed to do. Well, when many of the players on the team aren't meeting expectations, a player like Matt Greene deserves a nod.
He's doing what's expected of him and is doing it in an expanded role with Slava Voynov serving a suspension and Jake Muzzin missing time early on with an upper-body injury.
Greene sacrifices his body consistently to make defensive plays and to defend his teammates. He leads the Kings with 16 blocked shots, has 25 hits and fought Corey Tropp of the Columbus Blue Jackets after he made a questionable hit on Justin Williams.
9. Robyn Regehr
Robyn Regehr is 34 years old, but he manages to make his way into the top 10.
For a team that's struggled so much offensively, there is comfort in having a player like Regehr on the blue line. He won't push the pace up ice, but he will provide solid, physical defense in his own end, clearing players from in front of Jonathan Quick and digging the puck out of corners.
Regehr leads L.A. in hits by a wide margin with 35, in addition to having nine blocked shots. Other than Doughty, he is the only player on the team who has appeared in nine games and is averaging more than 20 minutes in ice time.
8. Justin Williams
Justin Williams went on an astonishing run in the 2013-14 playoffs, providing clutch offense in multiple Game 7s. It all culminated in him becoming one of the more unexpected Conn Smythe winners in the history of the award.
Williams hasn't been the same player in the regular season. He has just one goal and one assist. However, he continues to be a key part of the possession game, winning battles on the forecheck and making small plays on defense that make a big difference over the course of a game.
He won't be an All-Star on any given night, but he can be slotted in throughout the lineup and do exactly what's needed against any opponent to help the Kings win.
7. Alec Martinez
He is the hero of the 2013-14 Stanley Cup champion Kings. Alec Martinez isn't bringing the same clutch offensive outbursts he did in the playoffs, but he is trying. The 27-year-old defenseman has put 21 pucks on net; unfortunately, his shooting percentage remains at zero.
However, he is getting the puck to the net more than most forwards, and that includes the power play, where he has played a bigger role due to injuries and the suspension to Slava Voynov.
Look for Martinez to continue to play the same style in his own end and hopefully help generate a few goals on the man advantage.
6. Anze Kopitar
Anze Kopitar has eight games under his belt, but he's currently out with an upper-body injury he suffered against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He notched two goals and one assist in those eight appearances. It's hardly the numbers you'd expect from the seemingly forever-underrated forward, but he still looked great prior to his injury, playing a fast two-way game.
The Slovenian's ability to play without the puck is just as important as what he can do with it. He continues to be one of the top defensive forwards in the league, pressuring opponents in all three zones and generating turnovers.
5. Drew Doughty
No surprise here. Drew Doughty is the Kings' best defenseman and has been one of the best in the league since his tremendous performance at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
What's keeping Doughty from a higher spot on the list? He's yet to register a goal this season. In a time when the Kings are struggling to produce offense, goals from their best blueliner could be crucial.
Doughty does rank fourth on the Kings in points with five assists. Look for him to move up the list in the coming months.
4. Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Quick got off to a bad start in the Kings' opener against the San Jose Sharks, allowing four goals on 27 shots. But since then, he's been spectacular between the pipes.
The 28-year-old netminder has a 5-1-2 record, .950 save percentage, 1.78 goals-against average and two shutouts. Perhaps what's most impressive is that Quick is 2-0-2 in games where he's faced 40 or more shots. That includes a 43-save shutout against the St. Louis Blues.
Some may argue he should be in the top three, maybe even No. 1. The top three won't surprise, though—they are every L.A. fans' favorite trio at the moment.
3. Tanner Pearson
Tanner Pearson is shattering expectations.
No, he may not be as well-rounded a player as his linemates, but that will come with more experience. And yes, he may be benefiting in a big way from playing with Jeff Carter. But there is no arguing with seven goals in nine games.
He's second in the NHL in goals and already has two more points than he did in 25 appearances last season. Pearson hasn't shied away from the physical side of the game, either, whether it's going into corners to fight for a puck or laying a hit in the defensive zone.
2. Tyler Toffoli
It wasn't long ago that Tyler Toffoli ranked at the top of the Kings' prospect list. Now he's one of the top players on the team.
The 22-year-old is playing like a 27-year-old, picking up where he left off in the 2013-14 playoffs. A great playmaker with an accurate shot and quick hands, Toffoli's five goals and eight assists for 13 points have him third in league scoring behind only Sidney Crosby and Tyler Seguin.
It's a very small sample size and not realistic to expect him to keep up even a point-per-game pace. However, there is no arguing against it right now: Toffoli's contributions have been paramount.
1. Jeff Carter
Jeff Carter has been by far the best player on the team and could rival Anze Kopitar for that title throughout the season if he keeps it up.
Carter is playing extremely well in all three zones, and it's that dynamic play that's helping his linemates rack up the points.
He leads the league with a plus-13 rating, and with five goals and seven assists, he sits sixth in the NHL in points with just nine games played. Carter is winning 55.8 percent of his draws, which ranks among the best in the league for players with more than 150 draws taken.
And, of course, he's doing all this with Marian Gaborik, who only played in three games before going down with a lower-body injury, and now Anze Kopitar out of the lineup. He's drawing tougher assignments and excelling at even strength, on the power play and shorthanded.
He's been the MVP for L.A. thus far.