The LA Kings are back home with a 3-2 series lead, and this is in large part due to offense being produced amongst the entire team.
In this series, the LA Kings have been able to find production from players who have been filtered in and out of the lineup. This is not a new phenomenon, as these players have been quietly making an impact throughout the season. It is just now their significance can be seen on the playoff stage.
In the last two games against the Oilers, Troy Stecher, a veteran defenseman acquired at the deadline, has two goals and two assists since being held out of the first three games of the series. Carl Grundstrom had two goals and one assist, and Andreas Athanasiou had a goal in Game 5 after being scratched in Game 4.
Along with Stecher on defense, scoring is not the only thing that the Kings’ bottom-six forwards have brought to this series. Although they haven’t been able to tally any goals so far, players like Blake Lizotte and Dustin Brown have nonetheless had quite a positive impact. Lizotte is bringing the energy and intensity in every shift, fighting for every inch of ice.
In his final playoff run, Brown has also been especially noticeable in these last two games, dishing out hits while making an impact offensively. In Game 5, for example, he had a phenomenal assist on Andreas Athanasiou’s goal, which put the Kings up 3-1. He intercepted the puck, absorbed the contact of a check, and then found Athanasiou back door for the goal. You can’t ask for more from the veteran winger.
Production throughout the lineup is one of the most important elements when it comes to advancing in the playoffs. However, it would help if you also had your top players play like your top players, and the Kings are finally getting results from their entire top six as well.
Earlier in the series, the trio Phillip Danault, Trevor Moore, and Alex Iafallo put up most of the numbers in the Kings’ top six. In Game 5, however, the Kings’ first line finally broke through, led by Adrian Kempe.
Kempe recorded two goals and an assist in the Kings’ victory. His first goal of the game was the first-ever of his playoff career. His second was the overtime winner, in which he made a dynamic power move to the net and potted the winner past Oilers Goaltender Mike Smith.
The Kings are starting to get contributions from their leading goal scorer and the role players on the team. This is the formula for success and making a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.