Despite a wealth of top tier offensive talent, this Los Angeles Kings team isn’t one that always has the easiest of times finding the back of the net. In fact, we’ve seen them struggle quite a bit in respect to their offense, both last year when they won the Stanley Cup, and for stretches this year.
One player in 2013, however, that made no mistake about his offensive abilities was Jeff Carter. Playing in his first full season in Hollywood, Carter was an offensive force for the Kings. He put the puck in the net with more regularity than almost any other player in the league.
Carter finished fourth in the league in goals, finding the back of the net 26 times during the regular season, in comparison to only seven assists. He definitely returned to his old form, which included 36 goals in 2010-11, after struggling mightily on offense with two clubs last season.
After sort of a slow start to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Carter has really picked up his play here in the second round against the division rival San Jose Sharks. Five of his eight points on the postseason have come during this series, including a pair of goals and three assists, two of which came on the power play.
But Carter has managed to make an impact for the Kings in more ways than points in this series. Without Jarret Stoll, the Kings have needed someone to step up and replace one of their top penalty killers, who is out with a concussion sustained at the hands of Raffi Torres.
Enter Carter, who has filled in while a man down to rave reviews so far. Stepping into that role really in this series, after Stoll went down early, Carter has logged more minutes than all but three Kings forwards on the penalty kill. The kill has improved as this series has worn on, particularly when the Kings are at home.
Jeff Carter has always been a key in this series. But his play now impacts the game in multiple ways, outside of simply what he does on offense. Which means he will be a tremendous factor in Game 7. If he can do what he’s expected in the offensive end, while contributing in defensive ways, it will go a long way towards writing another chapter in the Kings’ title defense.