For what it’s worth, Jeff Carter’s Game 2 hat trick against the Chicago Blackhawks wasn’t the first time the sniper has recorded a hat trick in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. During the Los Angeles Kings‘ Stanley Cup championship season, Carter recorded three goals against the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 2 of that year’s Western Conference Finals in the Desert en route to a Los Angeles series win. If the Kings were looking for good omens it doesn’t get too much better than that as they head back to Southern California tied 1-1 with the reigning champions.
Carter’s line with rookies Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson (recently dubbed “That 70s Line” due their jersey numbers being in 70s) was the Kings’ most consistent line in both games in Chicago. Given the Hawks have done the almost miraculous and limited Anze Kopitar to one (secondary) assist in two games makes their contributions that much more important. With two lines clicking on all cylinders, the Blackhawks will now “have to pick their poison” in terms of what forward group to put an emphasis on shutting down. The Blackhawks are a veteran and resilient team with a core that has been through a lot in winning two Stanley Cups in four years, however, even they will have their hands full in shutting down the Kings’ top two lines.
Since being traded away from the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011, Carter has been on a hockey odyssey that shows no signs of stopping. From being traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets to L.A., winning the Cup in 2012, capturing Gold at the Sochi Olympics and now being seven wins away from another Stanley Cup, Carter’s journey has been at the very least intriguing. With the series shifting back to Staples Center, look for Carter to continue his timely offense as the Kings look to do what they failed to do last season and return to the Stanley Cup Finals