The Los Angeles Kings are on a bit of a run here in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They seem to have found their footing after dropping the first two games of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, rattling off five in a row, including Game 1 of their second round series against the San Jose Sharks.
One player in particular has been an absolute standout for the Kings so far in the postseason. It’s a defenseman, but probably not the one you’d expect. Slava Voynov is using these Stanley Cup Playoffs as his coming out part, as one of the game’s top young defensemen.
The 2013 season was set to become Voynov’s first full campaign at the NHL level, having played in 54 games last season. He managed to play in all 48 this season, topping the numbers that he had put up the previous season. If it were a full 82-game year, he would have blown his previous career highs out of the water.
Voynov finished the regular season with 25 points, including six goals and 19 helpers. Eight of those points came on the power play. He isn’t a dominating physical presence, but showed he could play that style of game, ending up with 83 hits on the year, also more than last season.
He’s been absolutely terrific for the Kings so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with four points already, to go along with a plus-7 rating. Of the four points he has during the postseason, three have been goals, all three of which have been game winners. He’s demonstrated a knack for stepping up in the big moments.
Voynov played more minutes than any other skater, outside of Drew Doughty and Rob Scuderi, the latter of which beat him out by 30 seconds in that first round series. That trend continued into Game 1 against the Sharks, when he played over 18 minutes. His defensive play in his own zone leaves a bit to be desired, but there’s plenty of time for him to improve that aspect of his game.
It’s pretty clear that Voynov is the real deal as a defenseman. He’s shown that he’s capable of providing quality play at both ends of the ice. His offensive play may even be a bit underrated as a puck mover and handler. If he continues this type of play, the Kings are going to be a tough out in these playoffs.