Stock Up, Stock Down for Los Angeles Kings Stars in 2014 NHL Playoffs
The stock for just about every Los Angeles Kings player was down at the start of the postseason. Now, two games into the second round, the Kings look like a different team, with players stepping up to contribute in a variety of ways.
Here's a look at how the Kings' best players have performed and whether their stock is trending in the right direction.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
Anze Kopitar has been one of the NHL's most underrated players for years. In these playoffs, it's impossible for the media and fans across the hockey world to ignore him.
Kopitar leads the playoffs with 14 points in nine games and has yet to go a game without recording a point. Averaging over 20 minutes per game, the 26-year-old Slovenian has had an impact in all areas of the game.
Kopitar—and linemates Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik—has been highly effective in shutting down Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
Mike Richards praised Kopitar, according to CBC Sports, stating, "He's been doing this for years, and this might be as good as I've ever seen him play."
With Kopitar playing an excellent two-way game and setting up Gaborik consistently, the Kings are in position to make another Cup run.
Drew Doughty is playing at an elite level, just like he did at the Sochi Olympics. In the defensive zone, he has had great positioning and has used his size and physicality to prevent the Ducks from getting to the slot.
In nine playoff games, Doughty has racked up a goal and seven assists for eight points, good enough for third on the Kings. Like P.K. Subban in Montreal, Doughty has played a crucial role on offense, especially on the power play.
He continues to lead the attack, carrying the puck up ice and pinching in if the opportunity is there. He’s also shown great patience in the offense zone, circling with the puck and waiting for an open lane to set up a one-timer.
Doughty's conditioning may be tested going forward, depending on the health of Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr. If they remain sidelined, it’s likely Doughty will play close to 30 minutes per game.
The addition of Jeff Carter at the 2012 NHL trade deadline was a great move by general manager Dean Lombardi. The Marian Gaborik deal at this year's trade deadline? Brilliant.
Gaborik and Kopitar have become one of the most—if not the most—lethal duos in the league. Gaborik is tied for the playoff scoring lead with six goals and sits tied for eighth with nine points.
Gaborik has struggled with injuries in recent years and when he was healthy, his play in general seemed to be on the decline. That’s changed dramatically since the trade. He looks more and more like the 40-goal scorer he’s been in the past.
Again, like Jeff Carter in 2012, the Kings will need Gaborik to continue to fill the net if they want to get back to the Stanley Cup Final.
Jeff Carter was one of the few L.A. players who got off to a decent start—at least statistically—against the Sharks.
He notched a point in each of his first five playoff games. However, his stock is down because of his recent cold streak in which he's recorded no goals and one assist in four games.
How can Carter get out of this scoring slump? Shoot the puck every chance he gets. He's registered just four shots in his past four games and hasn't created many chances at even strength or on the power play.
Luckily for the Kings, the top line is rolling.
Jonathan Quick’s stock may have been at an all-time low in the first couple of games of the San Jose series; however, he has quickly returned to the level of play we've seen in the previous two playoffs.
Quick allowed 16 goals in the first three games of the postseason. In the six games since, he’s allowed just eight goals. His save percentage now sits at .924 percent and his goals-against average is 2.68.
Quick was caught outside of the blue paint on a number of goals early in the playoffs. He's rarely been caught out of position since. And when he has been is scrambling, he's come up with a few incredible saves. He's also tracking the puck and controlling his rebounds a lot better.
Quick may not have been on the same level as goaltenders like Carey Price and Tuukka Rask in the regular season, but he certainly is now. And no one should be surprised if he's facing one of them in the finals.