A year ago, the Los Angeles Kings were steamrolling their way through the Western Conference en route to a surprising Stanley Cup championship. The eighth-seeded Kings caught fire and never looked back as they claimed their first championship in franchise history.
The Kings followed up their Stanley Cup run with a solid regular season, finishing as the fifth-seed and once again looking like a formidable contender.
After going down 0-2 in the first round against the St. Louis Blues, the Kings rattled off six straight wins and looked like the team that rolled through the Western Conference last postseason. The Kings did stumble a bit in the second round, needing seven games to eliminate the San Jose Sharks, but they advanced nonetheless.
However after an offensive explosion last postseason, much of the Kings’ offense has all but dried up. The two biggest culprits are the two players who led the Kings last postseason; Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar.
Brown and Kopitar co-led the Kings last postseason, as each player had eight goals, 12 assists and 20 points. The 20 points were tops in the playoffs last season as each player had a breakout postseason en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup.
However, despite the Kings reaching the Western Conference Finals again, the lack of contributions from Brown and Kopitar are starting to raise some red flags.
Brown has still been a physical force, but his offense has been near non-existent. He only has three goals and one assist though 15 postseason games. He has zero game-winning goals a year after co-leading the NHL with three game-winning goals.
Kopitar hasn’t struggled as much as Brown, but he is still nowhere near the force he was last postseason. Kopitar has just seven points in 15 games and is only a plus-1. Last postseason, he co-led the postseason with Brown with a plus-16 rating, so his defensive play has also tailed off.
Kopitar finished the regular season in a major goal-scoring drought, as he only had one goal in his final 20 regular season games. Combined with the playoffs, he has just three goals in his last 35 games. The star has no power-play goals and just one game-winner during this postseason, further showing his struggles to score at opportune times.
When you look at Brown and Kopitar’s numbers combined compared to last postseason, the results aren’t pretty. Through 14 postseason games last year, the two combined for 13 goals, 18 assists and 97 shots on goal. Through 14 postseason games this season, the two have combined for just five goals, six assists and 52 shots on goal.
The Kings’ opponent in the Western Conference Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks, are having similar struggles with their star players, as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have yet to find their scoring touch. However, other top-tier players like Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa are picking up the slack, along with depth players like Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw.
The Kings’ other offensive weapons like Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams are carrying their weight, but aren’t overcoming the lack of production from Brown and Kopitar. Depth players like Dustin Penner, Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford also aren’t doing much to pick up the slack.
Thus, a season after being the offensive catalysts for the Kings, Brown and Kopitar must regain their magic in a hurry, or the Kings’ run as kings of the NHL will come to an end shortly.
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