Carter gives Kings another scoring threat

With Jeff Carter (bottom) in the lineup, the Kings believe they have enough offence to overcome the...

With Jeff Carter (bottom) in the lineup, the Kings believe they have enough offence to overcome the Canucks in their first-round playoff series. (BEN NELMS/Reuters file photo)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:02 PM ET

VANCOUVER - While the Vancouver Canucks had to open their playoff series without a top dog, the news was better for the Los Angeles Kings.

Jeff Carter, who missed the final five regular-season games due to a deep bone bruise on his ankle, was good to go Wednesday night for a Kings team looking for an opening-round playoff upset.

"I'm feeling good," proclaimed the centre, who hails from London, Ont. "It's always exciting. This is what you play 82 games for, to have a chance to play in the playoffs and win a Stanley Cup, so it's going to be fun."

Injury aside, it's been all kinds of fun for Carter and the Kings since he moved to the West Coast.

After a tumultuous few months -- first a summertime trade from Philadelphia, which blindsided the 27-year-old, then an awful time for a horrible Columbus Blue Jackets squad -- Carter is loving L.A.

"Yeah. It was exciting," he said of the February trade from Columbus to the Kings. "It gave me a new beginning and a fresh start with a good team that has a chance to do something. That was fun."

Carter wouldn't talk about his time in Columbus -- he went into hiding immediately after the trade, struggled with injuries and poor play for the league's 30th place team ("I'm over it. I'm happy here," he said) -- but he has the Kings smiling.

The Kings may be the Western Conference's No. 8 seed, but they believe they have a chance to take out the Canucks with Carter in the lineup. After all, the impact of his addition can be seen in hard numbers.

Before he arrived, the Kings had a 27-22-12 record and were averaging an NHL-worst 2.05 goals per game.

After Carter joined the Kings in the Feb. 23 trade that sent defenceman Jack Johnson and a first-round pick to the Blue Jackets, the Kings posted a 13-5-3 record and averaged 3.00 goals per game.

It's a big difference when you consider Carter, who's surpassed 30 goals in the three seasons prior to this one and had 46 in the 2008-09 campaign, managed just six goals and nine points after the trade.

"Yeah, but he's an offensive guy," said Kings forward Colin Fraser. "Even if he hasn't scored 100 goals since he's come here, there's still that threat of two lines that can score, versus putting all the pressure on our first line."

In the playoffs, though, expect the pressure to be more on Carter and his good buddy, Mike Richards.

The dynamic duo were a big part of the Philadelphia Flyers' run to the 2010 Stanley Cup final, although Carter missed half that post-season due to a foot injury which required surgery.

That playoff experience is one of the reasons the Kings reunited the good buddies.

"It's always good to have that experience. We have a lot of guys in this room that have had some success in the playoffs, a few Stanley Cups and some finals appearances. It always helps," said Carter, who was wearing a guard on his skate.

Thus some extra expectations placed upon him.

"There's a little bit of pressure," Carter said with a shrug. "There's pressure on everybody in this (dressing) room to come out and perform. I'll try to get out there and help the team win.

"It's going to be a fun series. They're a highly skilled team, play hard and they've got a great goalie back there. I'm sure it'll get a little chippy, a little rough, and I'm sure it'll be entertaining."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


Videos

Photos