Less than 20 seconds into the first period and right after the opening faceoff, Kings’ center and leading scorer through the first 35 games Jeff Carter suffered an upper-body injury forcing him to leave the game after just a total of 48 seconds of ice-time on Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes. The Kings are currently on a four-game road trip through the Pacific Division and Carter left the team to return to Los Angeles because of the injury.
Kings center Carter day-to-day with injury: report https://t.co/y4gBauRjfa
— NHL Updates (@NHL_Updates) December 27, 2015
Before the Kings’ win on Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers and his injury on Saturday, Carter had lead the team with 11 goals, 17 assists and 28 points. Tyler Toffoli surpassed Carter’s 28-point total as he scored his eighteenth goal of the season to take over the scoring lead with 29 points against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
Since Carter’s injury, there has been a collaborative effort to produce offense for the Kings as the team has scored 14 goals in the last three games and have had ten different goal-scorers in those three games.
Heavy Minutes and Heavy Production from Kopitar, Toffoli and Doughty
Kopitar leads all Kings’ forwards in ice-time averaging 21.11 minutes per game so far in 2015-16 regular season. He has averaged over 22 minutes of ice-time in the first three games including a 27 minute and 41 second performance in Arizona, which included a game-winning goal in overtime and had a multi-point game in Vancouver registering four assists.
Three of Kopitar’s four assists in the 5-0 victory over Vancouver were helping Toffoli register his second-career hat trick. Toffoli continued scoring as the road trip progressed tallying a goal in the second period of Tuesday’s night game against Edmonton as the Kings would score three goals in one minute and 36 seconds. Toffoli has five points on the road trip and has been skating on a line with Kopitar and Lucic the last two games. Averaging 17.40 minutes of ice-time per game, Toffoli ranks third in average ice-time behind Kopitar and Carter and has six goals in his last four games.
Drew Doughty leads all Kings in ice time averaging just over 28 minutes per game playing in all situations. Doughty scored a power-play goal in the game against Arizona and had an assist on Toffoli’s power-play goal in the third period against Vancouver totaling his power-play numbers to five goals and nine points this season. Doughty has one goal and three assists in the last three games.
While Kopitar, Toffoli and Doughty leading their respective positions in ice-time and all have more than three points in the last three games, other players have helped contribute to this already successful four-game road trip.
The Support of Secondary Scoring
Five of the seven forwards that have scored goals this most recent road trip have had less than five goals on the season before the Pacific Division tour. Tanner Pearson recorded his fifth goal of the season on Saturday night and Brown scored his third of the season soon after Pearson’s goal in the third period in the game against the Coyotes in Glendale, Arizona. Brown scored his fourth of the season on the power play on Tuesday against Edmonton.
After reports of Dwight King not returning until after the New Year, he played his first game on Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers and played 14-minutes and 50-seconds in his first game back after missing the first 35 games of the regular season with a broken foot. In his return to regular season action, King scored his first goal of the season and registered an assist.
Defensemen Brayden McNabb and Alec Martinez have both registered points in the last three games with McNabb scoring his second goal of the season against Vancouver and had seen his time on ice increase from 19 minutes in the first two games to playing over 21 minutes in the Kings’ last game against Edmonton.
Two players have registered their first career NHL goals on this trip. Defenseman Derek Forbort has played 12 games with the Kings this season and has replaced Christian Ehrhoff on the blue-line the last three games. On a turn-around shot from the point, Forbort shot it at the net and it deflected off a Vancouver defender to record his first goal.
After being sent down to the Ontario Reign and recalled three days later, Michael Mersch scored his first NHL goal against the Edmonton Oilers as the Kings went on to win the game 5-3. Prior to the road trip, Mersch had zero points and a minus-2 rating in six games. His first goal is his lone point in his nine games, has a minus-1 rating and is averaging 11.52 minutes of ice-time.
The Kings next play the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta. The Flames currently sit fifth in the Pacific Division with a 17-17-2 record as the Kings now sit atop the division with a ten-point lead over the San Jose Sharks. This will be the first of four meetings between the two teams.
Cole R. Querry resides in Southern California. Having played hockey through college and a background in science and math, he promises to bring an objective analysis to the team and sport he loves.