In the early going of the 2014-15 season — which is admittedly still the phase we are in — the Los Angeles Kings were getting almost no scoring outside of That ’70s Line (Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter, and Tanner Pearson). Obviously this wasn’t a sustainable formula for success, but the Kings were getting by. It was only a matter of time before other players started finding the score sheet more consistently.
More Players Contributing
Sure enough, the Kings are starting to get some more balanced scoring. Anze Kopitar, while certainly more than just a depth player, had a slow start to the season but has picked up 5 points in his last 4 games. Fourth-liner Trevor Lewis has provided a spark and tallied 4 points in 9 games since returning from an injury. Marian Gaborik is also back from injury and beginning to round into form. Defenseman Jake Muzzin is another player who has contributed offensively since returning to the lineup, with 7 points in 12 games. And of course, center Jarret Stoll just lit the lamp for the first time this season, with Saturday’s overtime winner against Anaheim.
“Yeah, it feels great,” said Stoll, when asked about whether he feels relieved now that he has scored his first goal of the season. “It’s been a while. Trying hard, but yeah it feels great to get that goal and just to get the two points. We needed two points bad, especially against these guys…” (lakingsinsider.com)
Reigning Conn Smythe trophy winner and “Mr. Game 7”, Justin Williams, has also gotten off to a rough start offensively this year, but scored a key goal in Anaheim earlier in the week to help the Kings gain a point in what would turn out to be a shootout loss. He also, of course, made the play on Stoll’s game winner Saturday night against those same Ducks. Williams corralled a pass from Jake Muzzin and carried the puck up the left wing, beating Anaheim defenseman Sami Vatanen wide before throwing a backhanded centering pass in front for Stoll, who got just enough of it to tip it past goaltender Frederik Andersen. Stoll also gave Williams all the credit.
“Just going to the net and Justin Williams made a great play driving wide and getting the puck to the net,” said Stoll. “I just got a stick on it. I tried to keep my stick on the ice. Just going to the net, a lot of times our team doesn’t score the pretty goals. We grind it out and (were) lucky to get that one.” (lakingsinsider.com)
Still Room for Improvement
As always though, there is still room for improvement. Mike Richards, looking for a bounce-back year after nearly being bought out in the off-season, has looked better for most of this season but has no points in his last four games after recording a point in each of the previous four. Captain Dustin Brown has just 2 goals and no assists all season. Despite Saturday’s heroics, Williams still has just 5 points in 17 games.
And of course, the Kings will have to do something about that 1-3-3 road record. That will be put to the test soon, as they begin a stretch of 8 out of 11 games on the road, following home games against the Panthers and Hurricanes this week. That said, if the Kings to see depth players emerge, as well as star players re-establish themselves, that road record should soon turn around.