EL SEGUNDO, CA — After a dreadful 0-3 start to the 2015-16 National Hockey League season, the Los Angeles Kings are in the midst of a six-game winning streak, relying heavily on goaltender Jonathan Quick, who played in five of the six games, recording some eye-popping numbers: an 0.99 goals-against average, a .965 save percentage, and one shutout.
Meanwhile, the offense has picked up, sort of…more on that later. Indeed, the Kings have averaged 3.00 goals per game during their current winning streak.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that through nine games, the Kings have just one line providing the bulk of their scoring, as Milan Lucic on left wing, Jeff Carter at center and Tyler Toffoli on right wing have combined for twelve goals and eleven assists for 23 points on the still-young season.
Although center Anze Kopitar has scored three goals, no other Kings forward line is anywhere close to the Carter line. In fact, left wing Marian Gaborik, has scored just one goal this season, and has not had the number of quality looks in prime scoring areas that would be expected of him through nine games.
“Offensively, it hasn’t been where I want it to be,” he said. “But we’re winning. That’s the most important thing. We have to keep plugging and get going, offensively.”
Gaborik indicated that he needs to get into those tough areas on the ice more.
“I need to keep working hard, try to get into the dirty areas, work hard on getting those ugly goals, and try to work on being good defensively,” he noted. “Now, with [Nick Shore and Trevor Lewis], just try get some energy going and create some chances.”
“I need to bear down more, and work for those opportunities and create more,” he added. “The chances are there, but I’d like to have more of them.”
As he alluded to, Gaborik’s slow start has resulted in him being moved down to the third line, with Shore and Lewis—Gaborik has rarely played on anything but his team’s top two lines, even though he played briefly on the third line with Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams last season.
“You try to stay positive, but at the same time, you want to go out there, feel good, and help the team win in any way you can—doing the little things,” said Gaborik. “Goals will come. [Until they do], you have to work on different areas of the game.”
Meanwhile, Gaborik’s slow start has created an opportunity for left wing Tanner Pearson, who has been moved up to the top line with Dustin Brown and Kopitar.
“It’s guys I’ve played with before, so it’s not a big change,” said Pearson, who noted the difference between playing with Kopitar instead of Carter, at center.
“The [difference] you’re aware of is you’re either passing to a leftie or a rightie,” he noted. “That was the change for me, going up with Kopitar. But other than that, it was kind of an easy transition.”
Pearson also expressed concern about the getting all of the Kings’ forward lines going, offensively.
“Obviously, that one line is rolling right now, and it’s key for us for them to keep on going,” he said. “We’ve just got to get some scoring chances for other lines, and [get contributions from them].”
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