There have been many story lines that have come along with the Los Angeles Kings’ defense of their Stanley Cup Champion crown and trek through the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
One of the Kings’ brightest and continued successes this offseason has been the maturation and offensive production of Slava Voynov. Voynov has developed into one of the Kings most productive defencemen, offensively, and has become reliable enough to log big time minutes and bail the Kings out in their own zone.
Voynov, an already offensive threat for the Kings, scored six goals during this lockout-shortened season, has found another level during these playoffs. Through 13 games, Voynov has recorded four goals and three assists and leads Kings defencemen with seven points. Yes, he even has more points than Doughty.
Tacking on to his offensive touch, Voynov has had a sense of heroics about his game, scoring one overtime goal and three game winners in total for the Kings this post season.
Voynov’s tool for success has been his patience. Very rarely will you see him lead the rush; rather you see him drifting into the zone from behind the play, find a soft spot in the defense and then unload a shot from high in the zone. A shot the Sharks got to witness first hand in game one of their series.
What a laser.
There never seems to be a sense of urgency or panic when the puck is on his stick. His head is constantly up and looking for the right play, or hole to get the puck through.
This leads to Voynov being a threat even when he is not scoring goals. His shots get through and set up teammates with juicy rebounds in close to the net.
It is plays like these that led to Voynov having an assist on both of the Kings’ goals during their 2-1 series clinching win over the San Jose Sharks last night.
Voynov’s first was a shot from the point that was banged home by Justin Williams at the side of the net. His second, came after he joined the rush, passed to Anze Kopitar who found Williams for the one-timer and game winner. Two very different, but productive was of contributing to the team’s offense.
Sure, Voynov may have cooled down and his three game winning goals did come in the first seven games of the playoffs. But, even when he is not on the score sheet his presence is felt.
Vonyov’s strong defensive play in his own end has propelled him into the role of one of the Kings’ go-to defencemen. He has racked up an average of just over 21 minutes a game and has a team high plus/minus rating of seven, finishing in the negative just twice through 13 games.
Voynov is not known for the big hit, he plays a smart, puck first, positioned based game. Pair that with Voynov’s defensive partner, Rob Scuderi, or any other of the Kings’ shut down defencemen who has a stay at home style of play, and you will have a very tough time scoring on any night.
If Voynov can keep up the complete game that the Kings and Kings faithful have grown so found of, the chances of the Kings defending their title would be significantly higher. Even if he brings a portion of his game, whether that be his scoring goals, setting up teammates, or breaking up big plays, when Voynov is on his game the Kings have a good shot at getting a “W” that night.