For much of the season, the Los Angeles Kings have relied on one or two players to carry the load, even if it wasn’t deliberately. At one point, it was all Anze Kopitar, another was all Jeff Carter, another was all Jonathan Quick and, before he was traded, Ben Scrivens. But with March now come and gone, the Kings are able to look back on a month where all of the men donning silver-and-black contributed to the team’s 11-4-0 record, marking the most wins and points (22) earned in any month this season.
Being the last full month of the regular season, March is, in many ways, the make-or-break period for the majority of clubs. While some teams are simply fighting to get into the playoffs, others are simply looking to garner as much momentum as possible heading into the post-season. As far as I’m concerned, the Kings could not have done so any better than they did for the last four weeks.
In March, 18 different Kings registered points with 13 of them scoring goals. For Jarret Stoll and Slava Voynov, two of the Kings who didn’t score in March, they made up for it by recording six assists each. In addition, seven different Kings registered points in six or more games with Kopitar and Alec Martinez leading the way, finding their name on the scoresheet in 11 games each. Even the newest King, Marian Gaborik, recorded points in seven of his first 13 games, scoring three goals (including one game-winner) and six assists during that stretch. He even scored on his lone shootout attempt. When they acquired Gaborik from Columbus at the March 5 Trade Deadline, the Kings were hoping the Slovakian could stay healthy and fit in. Gaborik has done more than that, helping both himself and linemate Anze Kopitar immensely. In addition to scoring points in 11 games this month, Kopitar scored five times and added eight assists. If you include last week’s shootout win in Washington, Kopitar has had three game-winners this past month.
One pleasant surprise the Kings received in March was the breakout play of Tyler Toffoli. The sophomore hasn’t had a lot of scoring success this season but has definitely stepped up his game over the last few weeks. In 15 games in March, the former Ottawa 67 registered points in eight games, scoring a goal and adding six assists as he continues proves to be a great set-up man for linemate Jeff Carter.
Speaking of Carter, he has continued his great campaign without missing a beat. The Canadian Olympian had points in six games this month, scoring five goals and three assists with one game-winner to his name.
In addition to Toffoli, the Kings have received another pleasant surprise in Trevor Lewis. In the 52 games he played entering March, the native of Salt Lake City, Utah had just two goals (neither scored until January) and three assists to his name. In March, however, Lewis netted four goals (one a game-winner) and two assists. In just 15 games in March, Lewis exceeded his entire points total from his previous 52 outings – and he’s coming out of his shell at just the right time.
March has been a contribution-by-committee month for the Los Angeles Kings. Eight different players have netted game-winners, captain Dustin Brown found his name on the scoresheet in six games and Justin Williams in seven, scoring three goals while adding five assists. Mike Richards snapped out of his own scoring slump with four goals and even Robyn Regehr and Willie Mitchell helped out with three and four assists respectively. Even Jake Muzzin, who has struggled defensively this season, scored a goal and four helpers in March. But the most impressive scoring threat for the Kings this past month has had to be defenseman Alec Martinez.
Heading into March, Alec Martinez had just four goals and three assists this season. But the Miami-Ohio alum, like many of his teammates, entered March like a lion. In the 15 games he played in this past month, Martinez recorded points in 11 of them, scoring seven goals and adding five assists with one of his tallies being a game-winner. With this, the 26-year-old has a very good argument for winning the team’s MVP honours for the month.
As impressive as those Kings were who did find the back of the net this past month, March also marked a historic month for two of its own.
Earlier in the month, head coach Darryl Sutter earned his 500th-career win while passing many legendary coaches on the all-time list in the process, including the late great Toe Blake and Pat Burns. Entering April, not only are the Kings approaching a franchise record with 46 wins but so is Darryl Sutter, who won 46 as the bench boss of the Calgary Flames in 2005-06.
Speaking of wins, the silver-and-black tied a franchise-record with their eight-straight road win. The mark was set by the 1974-75 version of the Kings. Los Angeles hopes to break that record this coming Thursday in San Jose.
Of course, quintessentially, you cannot speak of the success of the Los Angeles Kings without mentioning the name of Jonathan Quick.
While he did make an unbelievable leg save vs. Winnipeg this past Saturday, No. 32 made headlines for a different reason earlier this past month. En route to his 9-4-0 record with his 2.50 goals-against average and .887 save percentage, Quick became immortalized within the Los Angeles Kings family by surpassing the legendary Rogie Vachon to notch his franchise-record-setting 172nd win. En route to the historic victory, Quick earned his 30th-career shutout, just two behind the franchise mark set by, you guessed it, Rogie Vachon. Also, if you’re thinking that his numbers this month don’t look very good, take note that before his March 31 performance vs. Minnesota, Quick’s GAA and save percentage were 1.92 and .924 respectively.
While they did have a three-game losing streak sandwiched in between, the Los Angeles Kings began March continuing their win-streak from February. They opened March winning their first five and winning six-straight before losing to the aforementioned Minnesota Wild to close out the month. Unfortunately for the Kings, two of those losses came despite entering the third period with leads. Before March, they were unbeaten in regulation in said position.
While they were very successful, the Los Angeles Kings won despite going just 10-for-49 on the power play at a rate of 20.4 per cent. But they made it up for it immensely on the penalty kill. At 85.1 per cent, the Kings successful killed off 40 of their 47 penalties in March. The latter stat is exactly what the Kings’ defensive philosophy is based on and this past month, it was, for lack of a better term, textbook.
Also, as an added bonus, the Kings were 2-for-2 in the shootout this month, both against the Washington Capitals. As previously mentioned, Marian Gaborik scored in his lone attempt as a King while Jeff Carter went 2-for-2 and Anze Kopitar 1-for-2. Jonathan Quick, who in recent years has been mediocre in the shootout, stopped four of the five shots he faced. These stats may not mean anything when the playoffs roll around but it is nonetheless something the Kings can hang their collective hats on.
Overall, it was a very solid March for the Los Angeles Kings. They may have found success after the Olympic break in February but March was a full month and, as already stated, one that very well makes or breaks most teams. The Los Angeles Kings were made this month as they hope to wrap up an abbreviated April with some momentum before getting ready for the NHL’s second season to start.