The Los Angeles Kings are off to a fantastic start to the 2017-18 NHL season but may have hit a bump in the road. On Wednesday night, Oct. 18, 2017, behind the strength of forward Adrian Kempe's first-ever NHL hat trick, the Kings defeated the Montreal Canadiens by a final score of 5-1. What the frenzied hometown crowd at STAPLES Center, did not realize, was that this was also the last they would be seeing of star forward Jeff Carter, for an extended period of time.
Carter, who normally centers a forward line with Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson on the wings, was injured in the first period of the contest. On Thursday, Oct. 19, Kings Vice President and General manager Rob Bake, released the following statement, "Kings center Jeff Carter sustained a cut to his left leg during the first period of last night's game and today is undergoing a surgical procedure to repair the injury. He is out indefinitely."
On the same day Carter underwent surgery, the Kings also announced that free agent veteran forward Brooks Laich has been signed to a one-year deal. It looks as though the team is preparing for life without Carter in the lineup. Fortunately for the Kings, this season has seen a lot of solid play coming from the younger forwards. That will need to continue, as they prepare for a 10-day, six-game road trip which begins with a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, Oct 21.
After six games this season, the Kings have a record of 5-0-1 and are off to the best start in club history. They have outscored opponents by a combined score of 21-10 and this season, are the only NHL team not to have lost a game in regulation time. Another bright spot is that veteran forwards Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown have been very productive early on. Last season, they combined to score just 26 goals all season. So far this season, they have already combined for eight goals; each player has scored four times.
Overall, despite the injury to Carter, things are definitely looking up. Defenseman Drew Doughty has done a great job of steadying the young defense corps. Also, Goaltender Jonathan Quick is on his game. This season, Quick has faced 159 shots and yielded just eight goals. This equates to a sparkling .950 save percentage and impressive goals against average of just 1.59. With Quick in net, playing as well as he has been, the Kings will grow more and more confident. This will need to continue, as they prepare for a 10-day, six-game road trip which begins with a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, Oct 21.