Here are the top 5 five LA Kings forward lines in the last ten years.
There have been some fun trios iced by the LA Kings in the last decade. Justin Williams, Anze Kopitar, and Dustin Brown had some great success during the cup years. Some ‘bottom six’ lines were also necessary for the team to win. And who can forget ‘That 70s Line’ with Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, and Tyler Toffoli?
But who was among the best combinations put together by the Kings’ coaching staff?
For this exercise, I only used lines that played together for at least 175 minutes for 5v5 play during the regular season in the last ten years. Here are the Top Five.
#5 Milan Lucic – Anze Kopitar – Tyler Toffoli (2015-16)
After a disappointing playoff miss in 2015, the LA Kings made a big splash in the offseason acquiring Milan Lucic from the Boston Bruins. Lucic filled a vital role on the wing after the departure of Justin Williams via free agency.
While he played most of his tenure with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli, paired with Anze Kopitar, he found most of his success. He was acquired to help with LA’s goal-scoring woes, and help he did.
With a ridiculous shooting percentage of 15.27%, the Kings’ line of Lucic-Kopiar-Toffoli not only generated many scoring chances but also capitalized on their opportunities.
During the 2014-15 campaign, if you take out the lockout season of 2013, Kopitar was below the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career. But with Milan in the fold, Kopitar found his scoring rise to 25 in 2016. And Tyler Toffoli would go on to score a career-high of 31.
#4 Justin Williams – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown (2011-12)
After being acquired in 2009, it wasn’t until the 2011-12 season when the trio of Justin Williams-Anze Kopitar-Dustin Brown really found their stride. Their play-driving ability helped lead the Kings to their third straight trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and eventually their first-ever Stanley Cup Championship.
Justin Williams was always considered a Corsi monster during his tenure with the Kings. And when paired with Kopitar and Brown during the 11-12 season, they finished with a team-high 63.9 CF% during 5v5 play, which would be sixth-best in the NHL.
#3 Dustin Penner – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis (2011-12)
Looking back at the line of Dustin Penner-Jarret Stoll-Trevor Lewis during the 2011-12 season, we aren’t just talking about the best checking line from that year, but maybe of all time.
No line that has played over 175 minutes together during 5v5 play has put up a +70 GF% with a sub-one GF/60 (goals for per 60 minutes) since they did just that.
While players such as Kopitar, Brown, Carter, and Williams were doing most of the scoring for the Kings during their eventual Cup-winning season, the line of Penner-Stoll-Lewis was shutting teams down.
Even though their abysmal shooting percentage of 2.89% kept them from scoring a lot of goals, that wasn’t their job. Their GA/60 (goals against per 60 minutes) led the NHL, and it played a key factor in helping the team get back to the playoffs.
#2 Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli (2014-15)
Had to share the video above over any highlight. It’s too good.
That 70s Line.
What more is there to say?
Becoming a key figure on the LA hockey scene after helping the Kings to their second Stanley Cup in 2014, ‘That 70s Line’ continued their torrid pace into the beginning of the 2014-15 season.
In the first seven games to start the 2014-15 season, the trio of Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, and Tyler Toffoli combined for an absurd 33 points and a plus 32 rating. The three were the perfect complement to one another.
— x – LA Kings (@LAKings) October 14, 2014
Pearson was the speedster, capable of going into the corners to grab loose pucks. Toffoli was the sniper on the line. And Jeff Carter saw himself as the playmaker, helping the young wingers alongside him help grow to become the great players they are now.
They were the only line in the NHL to net a GF/60 above five during the 2014-15 season.
If not for the unfortunate leg injury suffered by Tanner Pearson in January, who knows what this line could have accomplished.
#1 Justin Williams – Anze Kopitar – Marian Gaborik (2013-14)
Since the expected goals for metric came into existence, there have been only five forward lines to post a 69% or better number. And one of those combinations was Justin Williams, Anze Kopitar, and Marian Gaborik (another was Tatar-Danault-Gallagher last season).
The Kings were once again a dominant possession team in 2014 and excelled in the defensive game, but they were 27th in the league in scoring. Just two years removed from acquiring goal-scorer Jeff Carter midseason, another acquisition was needed. Enter Marian Gaborik.
From March till the end of the season, the combination of Williams, Kopitar, and Gaborik was not only the best line in hockey; there is an argument they were one of the best Kings forward lines of all time.