Three straight leads to a Midwest trio
Arguably the best game of hockey the Kings have been involved in this season, tonight in Nashville.
The last time the Kings played hockey in music city, eight short nights ago, the biggest storyline – or non storyline at that, was the passing of the NHL‘s trade deadline. The roster, namely Dustin Brown, was safe. However, the Kings would drop another offensive failure into the hands of the opponent, falling 2-1 to the Predators.
It’s been different since the Kings’ last trip to Nashville, it’s been good.
Three-de-feat: Tonight’s return to music city exemplified and pushed the proof of the Kings’ improved play. With five goals recorded in tonight’s victory, the Kings have amassed a total of 13 in their last three contests. I won’t dig into the statbooks to provide solid proof, but if I were to be a betting man, I’d say that’s got to be the highest goal output in a three-game span seen from this club all season long.
It’s got to be.
Back in the picture
Pending on tonight’s outcome in the San Jose Sharks‘ tilt with Edmonton, the Kings have at least momentarily inched back into the NHL‘s postseason picture. Now with 74 points, the Kings have claimed the final spot (8th) in the Western Conference, just one behind the 7th seed Phoenix Coyotes who are at 75 points.
Not a sense of security, though. The Kings have three teams trailing hard, all within two points in the standings. That includes San Jose, but the Sharks’ games-in-hand on the Kings are dwindling, and San Jose will have played just one less game than the Kings after tonight. That’s a positive step regardless.
His name may have hit the scoresheet in just one game since he’s been a King, but Jeff Carter‘s addition to this offense has certainly brought an uptempo sense of balance.
Since Carter’s first game as a King, the team has gone an astounding 4-1, totaling 18 goals in those five games. For a club that’s been absolute worst in the NHL in scoring for the majority of the season, and for a team that has struggled to chunk together a handful of wins, there’s something about the Jeff Carter deal that makes it right – everything.
While acquiring a proven top-six forward, the Kings also maintained defensive strength. And for their current cause, they may have improved that defense with the loss of Jack Johnson. Johnson, who was prone to struggle defensively, is being replaced by two prospects who may fill his role equally – if not better in their own zone. As for the opponents’ zone? Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov are offensive defenseman, they’ve added to the Kings’ offensive boost, even if it isn’t in the stats.
If this guy wakes up…
Well, how do ya do, Columbus?
The Midwest swing begins Thursday night in Columbus, Ohio. It’s not your average tilt between these two clubs – far from it. Drop the Jack Johnson reunion and Jeff Carter‘s return to Nationwide Arena into the equation of an already critical game. Can’t get much better.
The boo-birds could be out for Carter every time he touches the puck. In fact, in his first return to Columbus at least, they could be Rob Blake – esque for a Staples Center perspective. It’ll wash over, but it’s too soon to believe the anger has subsided.