The Los Angeles Kings made a significant acquisition before the trade deadline when they picked up Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jack Johnson and a 1st round pick. Carter was brought in to create scoring on a team with one of the least goals for in the entire league. He was instantly reunited with former teammate Mike Richards and found some chemistry with Richards and Dustin Penner scoring six goals in the last 16 games with the Kings. While Richards, Carter, and Penner had just an average regular season, the Kings 2nd line stepped it up during the post-season which gave the Kings more than enough to win their first ever Stanley Cup.
Penner only had 17 points and was a -7 in 65 games with the Kings during the regular season, then came the post-season. The 2nd line for the Kings contributed 15 goals in 20 games for the Kings. Penner looked rejuvenated where he played solid hockey by collecting 11 points in those 20 games and also finished the playoffs with a +4. Richards picked up his point per game rate by scoring 15 points in those 20 games while Carter led the second line with 8 goals during the playoffs. With the 2nd line picking up their offensive game, this gave the Kings two consistent scoring lines which teams were not able to properly match up against. Carter provided three game winning goals showing that he can step it when needed. He also shot the puck more than anyone else on the second line and had one of the best shooting percentages on the team.
The Los Angeles Kings will now enter the 2012-2013 season with a good one-two punch that can hopefully power the Kings to a strong season and another long post-season run. The question is now if the Kings 2nd line can continue this success into the next season. They have certainly shown that they possess the skill to contribute in a big way, but Penner and Carter have shown some inconsistencies in the past. With less pressure on Carter on the 2nd line and playing with Richards again, he can continue his scoring touch. Penner seems to have gained confidence playing with those two and being re-signed to a 1-year contract will hopefully keep him motivated to do well. Even if Penner starts to slack again, the Kings have talent to replace him if necessary. Dwight King and Simon Gagne (when healthy) can possibly step up to take Penner’s spot. Don’t forget about the Kings prospects in Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson who can possibly take a spot in the next year or two.
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