Don’t look now, but the Los Angeles Kings seem to have cured whatever Stanley Cup hangover was ailing them as the season began.
On Friday, Feb 15th, less than 3 weeks ago, the Kings were 4-5-2 & tied with Columbus for last place in the NHL and had scored fewer goals than any team in the league. It appeared that the problems that had plagued them heading into last year’s playoffs had reared their ugly head once again and it was entirely possible that they would not even get the chance to defend the Cup in the playoffs.
Well fast forward to March 6th, and while they are far from home and cooled, they have gone 8-2-0 in their last 10 games and have shot up to the 4th seed in the West. They have scored 34 goals in those 10 games, after having 26 in the first 11.
A lot of that success is due to the finishing ability of Jeff Carter. He has 9 goals in his last 8 games, and now has a total of 15, trailing only Steven Stamkos, who is two goals ahead, but has also played 2 extra games. Carter leads the league with 6 game winning goals, including 5 in the last 11 games.
The talent in LA was never in question, but they just couldn’t seem to find the back of the net. Carter’s sudden hot streak has given the rest of the team the opportunity to lighten up the grip on their sticks and just play naturally, not having the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Which is exactly what the Senators need right now. Someone, anyone to go on a tear. Odds are if it were going to happen, it would be Milan Michalek and his team leading total of 35 goals from last year. Michalek returns tonight, and the Sens would like nothing better than for him to go on a tear for the next 10 games where he pots 8 or 10 goals to take the pressure off the other guys who aren’t yet ready to carry the offensive load and they can just stick to playing their own style and developing at a stable rate, rather than being thrown to the fire.
We shall see if that happens.