The statistics indicate what we already are well aware of: Anze Kopitar’s line has provided a consistent production source of production, and the chemistry that had been developing with left wing Marian Gaborik hit a crescendo as regular season games ticked off the calendar.
Kopitar (7-5=12), Gaborik (3-9=12) and Justin Williams (2-4=6) have combined for 30 points over the team’s last 11 games, with at least one member of the trio recording a point in 10 of those games, and Gaborik carrying a four-game point streak into the postseason.
“We still have to tune some things up, but I think it was progress,” Gaborik said. “Got to know the guys a little bit on the ice and off the ice and obviously get some chemistry in our line from the start. I think it was progressing each and every game and we’re ready to go to playoffs.”
By being on the ice for 121 shot attempts over the past seven games compared to their opponents’ 76, Gaborik has produced a 61.4% Corsi percentage, a rate that has been aided by Justin Williams, who recorded 25 shots on goal over the final four games of the season.
Of course, Williams is a right wing, while Gaborik, a versatile forward, has been stationed to Kopitar’s left.
“There is a bit of difference, especially in the defensive zone on the walls,” Gaborik said. “It takes a little bit of time to adjust, also coming down the wing a little bit. I’ve played both sides, obviously way more on the right side, through my whole career. When I had a chance to play on the left side, it was a little bit of an adjustment, but I feel comfortable there right now.”
Marian Gaborik, on what he has noticed around the Kings at this time of the season:
I think that everybody believes and everybody is confident that we have a good team. That we’re going to be ready. We can do some damage. I think everybody is focusing on that first game. Take it a game at a time and just go from there. Mainly, I think there is a good vibe around the room and confidence and the right mindset.
Gaborik, on the team’s focus with the playoffs beginning:
I think everybody knows the importance of it. The guys have been in this position for the previous five years, making the playoffs and being a contender. I think everyone just can feel it. Obviously, everyone is going to step it up for the playoffs and that’s what we need.
Gaborik, on fitting in with the team:
It’s a great group of guys off the ice obviously. On the ice, it’s been a bit of an adjustment to get used to the system and stuff. But I think I got that pretty quickly. It was a bit of a process, but it was just a matter of understanding and being on the same page with four other guys on the ice out there and just know what we’re doing defensively. But I got that pretty quickly I think.
Previously in the Kings-Sharks playoff preview series:
The home ice factor
The center battles
Individual postseason stats
Weathering the storm
Possession, possession, possession
The video preview
Playoff Podcast with Pierre LeBrun