The Los Angeles Kings have had a tale of two seasons this year. Before the Olympic break, the Kings had a good season derailed by a 6-14-2 record in the 22 games before Sochi. After the Olympic break, LA had a boost in production which was aided by the NHL trade deadline in which they received offensive threat Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets. LA ended the season 15-6-2 and a lot of that had to do with the new guy in town.
Gaborik has been an offensive godsend for the Kings who had a lot of trouble putting goals in the back of the net as a team. Before the Olympic break the Kings were scoring 2.74 goals in the first 59 games. After the break , LA is averaging 2.91 goals in the last 23 games. It should be noted that the Kings added Gaborik to the roster by the fifth game after the Olympic break, but even still, his production has helped to secure the number three spot in the Pacific Division in the second part of the season.
It is not just the Kings that have flourished with Gaborik, but also Gaborik who has flourished with the Kings.
In his time in Columbus this season, the right winger had 6 goals and 8 assists for 14 points in 22 games (he was injured for most of the season). With the Kings, he has 5 goals and 11 assists for 16 points in his 19 games in black and white. It took a few games for the former Blue Jacket to get acclimated to his new environment, but once he did, he made the line he shares with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams one of the most explosive in the Western Conference. And if you are into that kind of thing, Gaborik is fifth on the Kings with a Corsi For % of 60.0.
In the last nine games of the season, Gaborik had at least one point in eight of those games. In the second to last game of the season against Edmonton, the Kings blanked the Oilers 3-0 behind a two goal, one assist performance by Gaborik. In that same game, Kopitar had one goal and one assist. It was the most beautifully in sync game the Kings have played in a while. LA was now entering “playoff mode”.
The point is, The Los Angeles Kings are built for the playoffs behind a defensive-minded philosophy. Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov and Jonathan Quick are the guys who have helped create that mantra. Right now, they are still the same team, but can score more goals. This is what makes LA the most dangerous team in the playoffs.
The Kings start their playoff journey tonight in San Jose against the division rival Sharks. It is always a battle when these two meet, but now it is the playoffs. Last postseason, LA needed seven games to beat the pesky Sharks, even with a lack of goals. This postseason, the series will be different as scoring will be plenty for the Los Angeles Kings. Isn’t it great how one guy can change a team just enough to push them in the right direction? Go Gaborik Go! Go Kings Go!
Prediction: Kings over Sharks in 5 games.
Tags: Los Angeles Kings