Who's Hot, Who's Not for the Los Angeles Kings Through 1st Quarter of 2014-15
For the Los Angeles Kings there is a significant gap between their top scorers, the players in the middle and those at the bottom.
The players at either end of that list may surprise you. It’s a quarter of the way into the season, and we all know That '70s Line has dominated, while much of the rest of the team has struggled offensively. There are two players in particular that stand out because of their poor performance.
With that in mind, these are the Kings’ hot and cold players 23 games into the 2014-15 NHL season.
There has been a lot of talk about Mike Richards’ performance in recent years and how it relates to his contract. The same scrutiny may soon come upon Dustin Brown.
The captain has played in all 23 games, but he has just four goals and three assists for seven points. His minus-three rating is second worst on the team. He’s still playing more than 16 minutes per game. That’s more ice time than other veteran forwards like Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams.
Brown does offer a lot physically and defensively. He makes sacrifices to prevent scoring chances and generate turnovers. It’s time he stepped up and provided timely offense. It’s something he did for years and he’s still capable of doing so today.
Dwight King had a breakout season in 2013-14. He notched 15 goals and 15 assists for 30 points in 77 games. He was also a factor physically with 114 hits.
He’s taking a step back this season. King is a minus-seven, has just seven points and is averaging about a hit per game. There was a time when he looked like he could play a role on the second line if needed. Now it’s a question of how much time he will earn on the checking line.
The 25-year-old needs to figure out a way to turn things around, and perhaps that simply means getting involved physically. If he doesn’t, he may find himself up in the press box.
Jeff Carter is playing some of the best hockey of his career early in 2014-15. The 29-year-old center is second on the team in points, with seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points in 23 games. He’s been dominant in the faceoff circle, winning more than 55 percent of his draws. And, he is playing well defensively.
Carter led That '70s Line to great offensive success in the playoffs and early this year. And even when the line struggled a bit, he still continued to have an impact at both ends of the rink.
Look for Carter to have one of the best statistical seasons of his career and rival Anze Kopitar for the team lead in scoring throughout the season.
Unlike Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli should cool off a bit as the season goes on.
He has nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points, one more than his older linemate. But while Carter has plenty of experience and is in the prime of his career, Toffoli had fewer than 80 games of regular-season experience heading into this season.
He’s 22 years old and averaging 14:01 in ice time per game, which ranks 16th on the Kings. Toffoli uses his great hands, vision and improved skating ability to create offensive chances off the rush and cycle.
While he may cool down, expect Toffoli to finish top five on the team in points at season’s end.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.