Will Jeff Carter be an “X-factor” in the Western Conference Finals? A key part of the Kings’ attack, both as a second-line winger and as a part of the power play, Carter returned for the start of the playoffs after he missed the end of the regular season with an ankle injury. Carter had two assists in Game 1 against Vancouver, then didn’t record a point in the other four games. In the second round against St. Louis, Carter scored a goal in Game 2 and had an assist in Game 3. His ice time, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t missed any practice time, suggests that Carter’s ankle is no longer a prohibitive issue, but in terms of offensive production, clearly the Kings could get more from Carter. After practice today, Carter was asked for a self-assessment of his postseason so far…
CARTER: “Up and down, I guess. I felt like, the last series, I was starting to get back to where I want to be. Obviously, I’ve still got a ways to go, but I’m feeling better every day.”
Question: Did it help to get (a goal) against St. Louis?
CARTER: “Definitely. You get that one, and you feel better about yourself. Your confidence starts to get going a little bit. I had a few chances there. The chances are coming, so hopefully I can put a few more in.”
Due to a huge coincidence, Carter will be facing the Phoenix Coyotes for the first time this season. At the time of his trade from Columbus to the Kings, the Blue Jackets had yet to play the Coyotes, while the Kings had already played all six of their games against the Coyotes. Carter said he didn’t believe it would be an issue.
CARTER: “We see a lot of video and do a lot of meetings before Sunday comes, so we’ll be well-prepared.”
Finally, Carter is still playing, while the two teams that traded him within the last 11 months — Philadelphia and Columbus — aren’t. The Flyers were eliminated by New Jersey in the second round, but Carter said he took no satisfaction.
CARTER: “I’ve got a lot of friends there. I was there for a long time and know the staff and the guys that I played with, so obviously you’d like to see them do well, but I’m definitely happy that we’re still playing.”