If the defending champion Kings are going to turn around and take this quarterfinal series against the St. Louis Blues as originally expected, then some big guns need to step things up a bit.
Through the first three games, the Kings have scored a grand total of three goals, and one of them has been by a defenseman. One goal a game is not going to get the job done, as the Kings are lucky enough to have at least one victory instead of being down 3-0 due to their complete lack of offense.
Dustin Brown and Justin Williams have tallied the only two goals scored by the forwards, leaving other go-to guys who are supposed to score like Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Drew Doughty still looking for their first of the series.
Where in the world has Anze Kopitar been?
The last time #11 lit the lamp was in a 5-4 victory in Chicago back on March 25! He has registered a dozen assists since then, and I do not mind a point per game player, but so far in this series against the Blues, he has been credited for a grand total of four shots on net, with 1 assist and a minus one.
In the Kings' 1-0 game three victory, Kopitar was held completely off the final scoresheet, with only three hits, in just over 19 minutes of ice time.
I understand Kopitar is a solid two-way, defense-first type of player, but not registering a single shot on goal with his skill is inexcusable.
Also, where has the LA Kings' season goal scoring leader been thus far?
Jeff Carter also has seemed to forget how to score goals in this series. Like Kopitar in game three, he was pretty much invisible all night. However, he at least managed to muster one shot on goal. In the previous losses in games one and two, Carter was a minus 2, with 8 shots, but no points.
If he is able to score 26 goals in a condensed 48 game season, there is no excuse to be shut out in a short playoff series.
And what about the other former Philly savior? Mike Richards is another key piece of the puzzle, and the Kings seem to rack up victories when he chips in with at least a point or two a game.
In the first three games against St. Louis, Richards has registered a single assist, with no goals, but is a plus 2. Like Carter and Kopitar in game three, which LA somehow found a way to win, Richards garnered just a single shot on goal.
If the Kings are truly determined to keep their throne for as long as possible, then your main guns need to shoot the puck and try and get something going offensively.
St. Louis is a defensive minded team as well, but simply do not have the depth and skill that the Kings possess. Guys like David Backes, David Perron, TJ Oshie and Patrik Berglund are solid players, but I don't think they are as good or as talented as guys like Brown, Kopitar, Richards, Carter or even Doughty.
Someone countered my last post refuting my statement of Brian Elliot being a backup goalie.
Guess what, he is.
He was given every opportunity to be the #1 in Ottawa, but failed. Then, the Blues pick him up, but had him backing up Jaroslav Halak, another backup goalie who played behind Carey Price in Montreal. Halak ended up getting hot at the end of the 2010 season, and got the Canadiens as far as the conference finals, but still has not been able to take over a steady #1 job.
Elliot is following the same path Halak took that spring, but he too has never been able to carry a steady #1 job. And when comparing those two guys to someone like Jonathan Quick (or even Jonathan Bernier for that matter, who will become a solid #1 goaltender in the NHL very soon), then that is a foolish rebuttal.
Basically what I am saying, is that if this series truly comes down to a defensive, goaltending battle, then the Kings without a doubt should come out on top.
Quick has been stellar in the first three games, except for the horrible gaffe in game one, and the poor goal allowed in the final seconds of game two. Earning the shutout in game three has basically gotten him off the hook.
So, before game four tonight in Staples, I predict that those guys I mentioned above will finally come to life and lead the Kings to a much needed 4-1 decisive victory to regain the momentum heading back to Scottrade Center and eventually take the series 4 games to 2.
Now, to the Maple Leafs...
Toronto must be buzzing at the moment, getting ready for its first playoff game in nine years. I just hope the Leafs use all that positive energy and come out ready to battle as they did Saturday with that impressive 4-2 victory in Boston, a place where the Leafs have been run over and smashed for the past two years.
If they have any hope of taking this series, they will need to play with the same determination they had on Saturday.
Simply put, Toronto needs to continue to put the pedal to the metal against Boston and not let up one bit. Keep attacking, keep skating, and keep hitting. The victory Saturday gave some hope to Toronto faithful that this team does have enough right now to get past the stronger, experience teams.
With Joffrey Lupul healthy, James van Reimsdyk creating chaos in front of the net, and Phil Kessel buzzing around looking to make plays, the Leafs can hang with anybody in this playoff run. They will need to be the spark plugs from now until the end if Toronto makes a run.
What's also great at the moment, is that the Canadiens trail a soft Senators team, and are whining and complaining already after getting smashed 6-1 last night in Ottawa.
Let's see is Mr. Reimer is also ready to pick where he left off, making nearly forty saves again.
I'll refrain from making a prediction on this one tonight. Anything can happen. Still, things must be going crazy up in Toronto in preparation for tonight.
So, we got the big guns in Toronto stepping up for their team in game two. Let's see if LA's already proven big guns can step it up for their team.