You could find and point to a few reasons that the Los Angeles Kings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in five games in the Western Conference Finals. When it comes down to it, the Chicago Blackhawks were simply the better team. But that doesn’t mean the Kings wouldn’t have fared better if a couple of key players had shown up for the series.
Aside from a couple of hits from Dustin Brown and a couple of points in the decisive Game 5 from Anze Kopitar, two of the Kings’ superstars were pretty much invisible during the series. The only line that was truly effective for LA was the one led by Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner.
Brown had 32 points in the regular season and a quiet postseason overall. He had only four points during the playoffs, none of which came in the Western Conference Finals. He was a human cannonball in Game 1 against Chicago, with eight hits, but even his physical game tailed off after that.
Kopitar had a much more successful regular season, with 42 points in 47 games. However, his goal scoring was something that was pretty much absent all year. He had only 10 goals during the regular season, followed by just three in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He still continued to provide strong two-way play, and set up his teammates nicely, but was unable to find the back of the net on his own.
The main theory as to the struggles of two of the Kings’ stars is the fact that they simply were not healthy. It definitely makes sense. We saw Brown star in last year’s playoffs, both with his production and with his physical play. There’s no reason to think that that just happened to disappear over the course of a year.
These are two of the better players in the league. Brown is a rare combination of skill and physical play, while Kopitar’s two-way ability puts him among the league’s elite. There’s no reason to think that they, or the Kings, won’t bounce back next year. This club will be right back in the thick of things, and with a summer to recover, a healthy Brown and Kopitar could help them end with a better result.