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Can the Kings keep scoring?

Jun 3, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT

Marian Gaborik Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings scored an impressive 2.85 goals per game in the 2012 playoffs en route to winning the Stanley Cup, but that’s been dwarfed by their current average of 3.48.

Over the last four years, only two teams have finished their runs with a higher offensive average than that — the 2012 Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, which played in a first round series that was devoid of defense or goaltending.

It’s hard to see the Kings maintaining their current pace, especially when you consider that they ranked 26th offensively (2.42) in the regular season, but then again, this isn’t exactly the same team.

The Kings seem to find their missing link when they acquired Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline. After struggling to get anything going in Columbus, Gaborik has recorded 19 points in the playoffs, including a league-high 12 goals. His presence has pushed Anze Kopitar to another level and gave them the luxury of moving Jeff Carter off the top line.

Carter has instead played regularly with 22-year-old Tyler Toffoli and 21-year-old Tanner Pearson and helped the youngsters shine in the playoffs. Throw in Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, and factor in the possibility that Mike Richards might still step up and it suddenly doesn’t sound so unreasonable to say that the Kings can maintain this level of production.

Unless their success has been based on misleading circumstances. The Kings haven’t faced the best goaltending in the playoffs, from San Jose’s Antti Niemi, who had been inconsistent all season, to the Anaheim Ducks’ messy situation that culminated in 20-year-old rookie goalie John Gibson opposing them, to Chicago’s good, but not elite goaltending from Corey Crawford.

New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist will be by far their biggest test yet. He’s one of the best players of this generation and has allowed more than two goals in just five of his 20 playoff starts. He’ll enter this series with a 2.03 GAA and .928 save percentage.

As good as the Kings’ offense has been, they might have finally met their match.

  1. hrudey - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    Lundqvist is certainly the most consistently excellent goalie they’ve faced in these playoffs, and even if one acknowledges that Crawford and Niemi are both Cup-winning goalies, there’s no comparison between them and Lundqvist. Of course, despite his undeniable greatness, Lundqvist is also the worst goalie ever to face the Kings in the Cup finals, but I think there are few goalies that can claim better pedigrees than Messrs Roy and Brodeur. This is the stage where greatness is earned, and we’ll see what happens soon enough.

    • henrik4dawin - Jun 3, 2014 at 7:42 PM

      But, Brodeur faced them in the finals at the tail end of his career– Lundqvist is right in his prime (nearing the end), so I would argue that Lundqvist now is better than Brodeur was in 2012.

  2. brandotho - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Not only is Lundqvist the best goalie the Kings will have faced, the Rangers defense easily is the best they will have faced, especially since the Hawks’ blue liners regularly deflected shots into their own net for much of that series.

    • hrudey - Jun 3, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      San Jose only allowed seven more goals this season than the Rangers. If a seven goal differential is enough to make New York “easily the best” I’m fine with that, because the Kings gave up 19 fewer goals than the Rangers, so I think it’s also accurate to say:

      Not only is Quick the best goalie the Rangers will have faced, the Kings defense is easily the best they will have faced.

      • brandotho - Jun 3, 2014 at 1:38 PM

        I won’t argue against your last point, but Quick and the Kings’ defense have been putrid this postseason

      • hrudey - Jun 3, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        Quick’s been less than stellar, but they were also facing three of the top scoring teams in the league (Chicago was #1, Anaheim #2, and San Jose and Pittsburgh were tied for fifth behind Boston and Colorado). The Kings aren’t usually this effective offensively, nor give up this many goals defensively, but it’s an interesting change to see them trying to beat teams using their own style of play rather than sticking to the lockdown defense that they are usually known for.

  3. blomfeld - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    DON’T EVER LET LUNDQVIST TAKE FOOD FROM YOUR TABLE !

    If the intent of this article is to invoke some sort of ‘doubt’ regarding our glorious LA Kings and our ability to score, then suffice it to say … “dog one is ‘not’ open ! … say again, dog one is ‘not’ open”. According to ‘you’ people, we Kings aren’t even supposed to be here … and yet we are ? … so how do you explain that eh ?

    Anyway, please just give it a rest with all this silly analysis about ‘King’ Henrik and his ‘precious’ stats, etc. The bottom line is that we Kings are gonna light up this Swedish beanstalk like some cheap ‘Made in China’ Christmas tree ! Yes sir ! And in the process, we’re gonna take back ‘that’ which was ours all along, Lord Stanley’s Cup ! :)

    GO KINGS GO !!! … TODAY, TOMORROW AND FOREVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. barkar942 - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    Lundqvist is debuting a new mask for the Cup series.
    This mask is designed especially with Marian in mind.
    The mask is a commemorative edition of the face of a seething John Tortorella.
    Marian will do nothing but commit horrifying turnovers and not get a single shot on goal for the entire series.

  5. phillyphanatic77 - Jun 3, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    Man Columbus must be tired of giving the Kings players who are lackluster with the Jackets but push LA over the top.

    • aldog83 - Jun 3, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      Also NASH, Brassard, and Moore are former BlueJackets on Rangers!

      With Gaborik and Carter on Kings…

      Wonder what the ratings will be like in Colombus!

    • tronn25 - Jun 3, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      Columbus is the Kings 2nd, slightly better, minor league talent pool to take from.

      • stepanup - Jun 3, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        They did make the playoffs and push Pittsburgh to 6 games…

        They’re also very young and will be getting better. I think the days of the Columbus punch line jokes may be drawing towards a close.

  6. aldog83 - Jun 3, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    Well I this article is suggesting the presence of Lundqvist means the Kings are DOOMED and its the end of the LA Kings Stanley Cup Chances…

    Well guess we don’t have to play the series now….yeah right!

    GKG! GKG! GKG!

    P.S. Sharks, Ducks, Blackhawks skaters all better than Rangers.

  7. aldog83 - Jun 3, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    20 KINGS BETTER THAN ONE KING!

    GKG!

  8. joey4id - Jun 3, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Lundqvist was far from consistent in the playoffs. He has a proven tendency to give up soft goals and lose games every once in a while, but he does bounce back. He needs to play every game with the same focus and determination as he did in game 6 vs Montreal. Can he do it?

    The Rangers have not faced a team in these playoffs that is as deep, resilient, and formidable as the Kings are. First game goes to the Kings.

    • brandotho - Jun 3, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      Lundqvist was far from consistent? Are you sure that’s the phrase you want to use? 2.03 GAA, .928 SV% say you’re wrong. And the Kings’ “depth” is overrated. Couldn’t buy a goal in the regular season and Gaborik is playing out of his mind

      • joey4id - Jun 3, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        Did he not say after game six vs Montreal that he have never played that game with that level of determination? Was he not yanked in the series vs the Flyers? Was he not yanked in the series vs the Habs? That is not consistency for me. Consistency is playing with the same determination game in and game out. He needs to do that to beat the Kings.

      • hrudey - Jun 3, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        I agree with you about Lundqvist (I wrote consistently excellent above and it fits perfectly).

        I think you’re wrong about the ‘depth’. Of the NHL’s top five playoff scorers, four are Kings, and that’s three different lines (Kopitar+Gaborik on the top line, Carter on the 70s line and Williams on the third line). Doughty’s up near the top as well, three points ahead of any Ranger. Toffoli has as many points as any Ranger, while Brown and Pearson are one point behind and Muzzin one more point back.

        But if you want to trumpet something about the depth, here’s some good news: The Rangers’ 14th highest scoring guy this postseason is tied with the Kings’ 14th best, and their 15th and 16th are better than the corresponding Kings totals. They’re tied again at 18, and the Rangers have the lead at 20th and 21st. So once you get past the top 13 scorers on each side, the Rangers match up pretty well depth wise!

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