Who's Overachieving, Underperforming for Los Angeles Kings so Far This Season?

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IOctober 22, 2014

Who's Overachieving, Underperforming for Los Angeles Kings so Far This Season?

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    The Los Angeles Kings are on a roll. After getting off to a slow start, the team has won four consecutive games and sits second in the Pacific Division at 4-1-1. Keep in mind that they've played just a single road contest thus far this season. 

    The Kings are winning in a familiar manner, with strong team defense and elite goaltending. Goals have been hard to come by, unless the number on the back of the jersey is 70-something. Aside from That 70s Line, the team has struggled offensively. 

    The Kings have been without Jake Muzzin all season and Marian Gaborik for three games because of injuries. Slava Voynov is suspended indefinitely after a domestic violence arrest. 

    Without those players, here is a look at the players who are overachieving and underperforming for the Kings so far in the 2014-15 season.

Over: Tanner Pearson

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    At 22 years old and with fewer than 50 games worth of combined regular-season and playoff experience, expectations weren't high for Tanner Pearson heading into this season. 

    As a member of That 70s Line, he played a major role in producing secondary scoring for the Kings in the playoffs. Now, he's off to a start unmatched by any of his teammates. 

    Pearson leads the Kings and is tied for second in the NHL with five goals in seven games. He's tied with Tyler Toffolimore on him laterfor the team lead in points with seven. 

    Pearson is quickly developing into a solid two-way player who could appear in the top six on just about any team without looking out of place. His transition from the AHL to NHL has been a fast one, even compared to Toffoli. 

    Don't expect Pearson to maintain a point-per-game pace, but look for him to be a key factor as the Kings push for their third title in four years.

Under: Anze Kopitar

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    There are expectations each year that Anze Kopitar will lead the Kings in points, probably by putting up around 75.  

    With six games in the books, there is no reason he can't still do that. But he is off to a slow start. 

    The Slovenian center has just one goal and one assist in six games, and those points came against the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers. They're not exactly the best of the west.

    On top of that, he hasn't dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 50 percent of his draws. Also, he has a minus-one rating, whereas the members of That 70s Line are all plus-seven or better.

    Missing Gaborik doesn't help, and perhaps Kopitar's linemates should perform better. But more responsibility falls on Kopitar to lead the way. The top line needs to spend more time in the offensive zone, and Kopitar must create more chances, whether that means taking the puck to the net himself or facilitating. 

Over: Tyler Toffoli

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    Unlike Pearson, there has been hype surrounding Toffoli for a few years, with the narrative being that Toffoli would develop into a top-six forward with good playmaking skills and the ability to score more than 25 goals. 

    For the 22-year-old from Scarborough, Ontario, that time has already arrived. 

    Toffoli has three goals and four assists for seven points, and he has three multi-point games. He's yet to record a minus rating in a game, and he's been a factor in a variety of situations. Darryl Sutter trusts Toffoli on the penalty kill, and he's already registered a short-handed goal. He's stepped up his physical play with 10 hits. And he continues to work well in all three zones in five-on-five situations alongside Jeff Carter and Pearson. 

    Toffoli's accomplished all this while playing fewer than 14 minutes per game. That shows the depth the Kings have. While many teams would put more pressure on the line that produces so much offensively, the Kings continue to roll four deep. 

Under: Justin Williams

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    He is the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner. No, he's not a superstar like many of the players before him who hoisted the MVP trophy. He's an established veteran who knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. He's earned the nickname Mr. Game 7.

    We know Justin Williams is capable of performing at a higher level than he is right now. He's still a forward who can hit the 50-point mark, even if he doesn't need to for the Kings to have success. 

    But with Gaborik out, the Kings can't depend on That 70s Line and Jonathan Quick to win each game. Players like Williams, Dustin Brown and Jarret Stoll must step up. Williams has registered just one point and a minus-two rating through six games. 

    Fortunately, with a player like Williams, it's always a matter of when, not if, he will find his offensive touch.  

     Stats courtesy of NHL.com.  


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