After a couple of weak seasons to follow up winning the Stanley Cup win in 2014, the Los Angeles Kings decided to strip the captaincy patch from eight-year captain Dustin Brown and give it to reigning Selke Award-winning center Anze Kopitar. However, this somewhat drastic move has not been met with success.
In a season greatly marred by the early season injury of Jonathan Quick – though, Peter Budaj has done admirably in his stead – the newly anointed captain has seen his stats slump, big time. In all fairness, the Slovenian two-way machine did pick up an injury, but his four goals and 20 points in 36 games with a -3 rating means that he has to improve.
Kings doing well despite the slumps
In a conference which the Los Angeles Kings have become accustomed to being one of the top-dogs of, seeing them scrapping for a wild card place – five points down on the nearest Pacific playoff spot and six down on their bitter rivals, the San Jose Sharks – should be disappointing at this stage in the season, but the fact that they’ve been without Quick, lost Milan Lucic to the Oilers, and Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, and Tyler Toffoli are all experiencing a downturn in production, this placing is quite impressive.
Whilst Drew Doughty and Tanner Pearson have stayed consistent, and Alec Martinez has found a rich vein of scoring in the first half of the season – on target to have a career-best scoring season – it’s alternate captain Jeff Carter who has been carrying the slack for the Kings.
Jeff Carter stepping up as a captain should
Jeff Carter’s 22 goals place him as the second highest goal scorer in the NHL, just behind the man of the year, Sidney Crosby, which is incredible given that his usual feeder, Anze Kopitar, has seen his production nearly half since taking on the ‘C’.
By the time that the Kings had reached 41 games last season, Carter had clocked in 12 goals and 29 points, sitting behind Tyler Toffoli on 19 goals and 31 points, and Anze Kopitar on 11 goals and 31 points. Fast-forward 12 months to now and you see Toffoli with just eight goals and 20 points – but has missed some time due to injury – Kopitar on four goals and 20 points, but Jeff Carter raising the bar and scoring 22 goals and 36 points, which includes a majestic seven game winning goals.
In these tough times for the Los Angeles Kings, Carter has really come up big, keeping them in the battle for the playoffs. Los Angeles’ results will only continue to improve once Jonathan Quick returns – potentially next month – Toffoli finds his form again, and hopefully, Kopitar begins to lead by example – like he did last night with his strong, two-point showing against the Stars.
If, however, Carter continues to be the driving force of the team, with the other stars continuing to struggle, he should seriously be considered for the captaincy next season as he’s done everything in his power to keep the Kings going, despite adversity hitting them at every corner. The fact that he dons the ‘A’ shows that he’s a leader in the dressing room as it is, maybe a bit more power on Carter’s jersey would be good for the LA Kings.
If Kopitar can’t step up, Kings fans can trust that Carter will.
What do you think of Jeff Carter’s season so far, should he be captain? Let us know in the comments section below.