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X-Factor: Carter is wild-card to Kings' success

Sunday, 04.08.2012 / 1:00 PM / X-Factors - 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

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X-Factor: Carter is wild-card to Kings' success
Jeff Carter is the wild-card to the Kings' success.

As this season progressed and the Los Angeles Kings, expected to be a contender for the Stanley Cup after adding Mike Richards and Simon Gagne in the offseason, one thing became pretty clear -- they needed to score more goals.

Jonathan Quick was producing a Vezina Trophy-quality season in net, but the Kings were unable to find a place among the top teams in the Western Conference because the offense was severely deficient. General manager Dean Lombardi went searching for an upgrade as the trade deadline approached and he landed Richards' old friend, Jeff Carter, from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Carter had six goals and nine points in 16 games for the Kings after his arrival. Nothing spectacular, but his presence was clearly felt. The Kings, who were 30th in the NHL in goals before the trade, started scoring like a team closer to the top of the offensive standings.

Los Angeles scored 37 goals in the first 12 contests Carter played before only four in the final five before he picked up an ankle injury. Even with the mini-slump, that's 2.62 goals per game in 16 contests -- which would be 15th in the League over the course of a full season.

Jeff Carter
Jeff Carter
Center - LAK
GOALS: 21 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 34
SOG: 184 | +/-: -12
Carter has played with Richards on the second line for Los Angeles, and that has helped free the top trio from facing other teams' top defensive units on every shift. Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams have produced at a better rate since Carter's arrival.

The injury is a concern, but if Carter is fit he changes the depth and talent of the Los Angeles attack, both at even strength and on the power play.

He also has plenty of playoff experience, as he and Richards helped the Philadelphia Flyers to the conference finals in 2008 and within two victories of the Stanley Cup in 2010. Philadelphia was a No. 7 seed that season, so the duo know a little something about making an expected postseason run as well.

The Kings can play defense and prevent goals. They needed more offense to be a serious threat in the postseason, and the addition of Carter has provided that --whether it is his own production or other players on the roster benefitting from the attention his line now commands.

Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins