5 key players Kings will rely on in Stanley Cup Final
The Kings are clearly the favorites to win their second Stanley Cup Final in two seasons, but they would do well to remember that they were the underdogs in their first three playoff series against the Sharks, Ducks and Blackhawks -- and still won. When they open their best-of-seven series against the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at Staples Center, they’ll use their past as their guide. "We're confident we're going to win this series," Drew Doughty said, "but at the same time, we know how tough it is to beat this team. It's not going to be easy, and we’re not going to take it lightly."
The defenseman has become the Kings' de facto team leader, both on the ice and in the locker room. He is relentless and fiery, with an endless reservoir of energy. More than anything, he refuses to lose. "I just step up to these occasions," Doughty said Tuesday at NHL media day. "I like pressure. I like being the guy that makes a difference for my team to win. That's all I care about, is being a winner and helping this team win. I'll do anything it takes."
Getty ImagesHarry How
What they say is true: a hot goaltender can carry his team to the Cup. Quick, however, has been unpredictable throughout the playoffs. He was dreadful in the first two periods of Game 7 against Chicago, then stepped up big time in the third period and overtime. On Tuesday at practice, there was a momentary scare when he was struck by a puck near the collarbone, but asked later if he was OK, he offered a typical Quick response: "Yep."
Getty ImagesBruce Bennett
The addition of Gaborik at the trade deadline has been crucial to the Kings' postseason success. The former Ranger is a perfect fit on the Anze Kopitar line and has a league-best 12 goals in the playoffs. Said Kings coach Darry Sutter: "I think Marian has been a really consistent player for us through 21 games. That's not easy to do when you're probably (going) against the other team’s top defensemen, top checkers, top players."
Getty ImagesRocky Widner
The Kings center, who has nine goals and 13 assists in the playoffs, has thrived on the second line with 20-something wingers Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli. Carter, 29, scored a hat trick in Game 2 against the Blackhawks and led the Kings in shots during the regular season (256). His goal in Game 7 helped the Kings come back after they fell into a 2-0 hole in the first 8½ minutes.
Kopitar's 24 points lead the postseason. It's not a stretch to say he'll be the best player on the ice in this series. The arrival of Marian Gaborik allowed Kopitar to be more of a playmaker and less of a goal scorer, and he's thrived in the role. He didn't score a goal in the Chicago series, but he had five assists.