Defense (and goaltending) wins championships? Well, based on this year’s playoffs — particularly in the Western Conference — that’s a strong argument. This season, a total of 30 players scored at least 30 goals. Depending on how today’s two Game 7s go, there could be as few as four 30 goals-scorers in the second round. In the West, it’s even more stark. In the regular season, 12 players scored at least 30 goals. Six of them (Corey Perry, Michael Ryder, Jordan Eberle, Jarome Iginla, Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash) missed the playoffs entirely. Five more (Patrick Sharp, Logan Couture, Daniel Sedin, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski) were eliminated in the first round. Phoenix’s Radim Vrbata is the only 30-goal scorer on any of the four remaining Western Conference playoff teams. I asked Rob Scuderi what he thought that meant. Is it a victory for defense and goaltending, or just a coincidence?

SCUDERI: “It’s certainly not a coincidence. The years I had with Pittsburgh, we had some prolific guys on the offensive side of the puck, but defensively, we had a great goaltender and we played great team defense. Even as well as they did offensively this year, if you look at that Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series, the team that won has the team that finally was able to keep it to a couple goals (against).”

Question: Is a maybe a victory for depth, too? Not just having one great line but three or four good ones?

SCUDERI: “Depth goes a long way in the playoffs. You can key in on matchups, especially when you’re the home team, and if those guys aren’t able to break through the line, and the D pairing that the coach wants to play against those guys, not to mention probably a hot goaltender at this time of the year, it’s that much more of a plus to have guys who can fill the net every once in a while.”

The Kings’ leading scorer this season, Anze Kopitar, had 25 goals, while St. Louis’ leading scorer, David Backes, had 24. In terms of goals scored in the Western Conference, Nashville finished fourth, Phoenix finished sixth, St. Louis finished ninth and the Kings finished 14th. Defensively, in terms of goals allowed, St. Louis was first, the Kings were second, Phoenix was fifth and Nashville was sixth. High-scoring teams: out. Good defensive teams: still playing. Darryl Sutter sort of went both ways on this topic…

SUTTER: “It’s still better to have all those goal scorers, right? [grins] You look at our series that we just finished, and you want to handle the three big guys on their team, even though Ryan (Kesler) didn’t have as big a year, numbers-wise. Even-strength goals, they didn’t score one, the Sedins and Ryan. On our side of it, we got five goals from Jarret Stoll, Dustin Penner, Trevor Lewis and Brad Richardson. So, it’s not always about stars. In fact, we just showed that it wasn’t.”

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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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