Originally posted on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 3/23/12

Five days before this season's lackluster trade deadline, the Los Angeles Kings swung for the fences and acquired Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jack Johnson and a first round pick. Carter would rejoin former Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards in what looked like a perfect fit for both sides.
Thirteen games later, Carter has helped revitalize a stagnant offense, helping the Kings to reach their potential as a Western Conference contender.
Carter scored six goals and nine points thus far but that number hasn't quite painted a good enough picture of his impact on his new team. Over that span, the Kings have tallied 44 goals which averages out to 3.38 notches per game. Compare that to the 123 goals the team scored over their previous 61 games-- which comes out to 2.01 goals every night-- and the team has a chance to win every night. Furthermore, in these 13 games, the Kings have scored 35 percent of their entire season's output.
Although Carter rarely played with Richards at even strength last season, the two have been exclusively paired together while in the City of Angels. The reunited tandem has helped captain Dustin Brown to move back onto a line with Anze Kopitar, establishing two legitimate scoring threats. And while the Kings currently sit in 27th in goal scoring, they have a chance to finish out of the bottom five by the season's end.
Most of the campaign, the Kings have gotten by on the Vezina Trophy worthy play of Jonathan Quick. The starting goalie, who just turned 26 in January, finds himself in the top five in goals against average and save percentage while tying Henrik Lundqvist with eight shutouts. Clearly he gives his club a chance to win every time he gets between the pipes. However, with a little more goal support, this team now has a legitimate chance to succeed.
That glimmer of hope recently manifested itself into a surprising Pacific Division lead following last night's epic shootout win over the Western Conference leading St. Louis Blues. Neither offense mustered anything past both Quick and fellow All-Star netminder Brian Elliott, however, the result has to be pleasing. Following 65 minutes of scoreless play, in which Elliott and Quick turned aside 37 and 35 shots each, respectively, the Kings sealed their sixth win in a row.
And who scored the eventual game winner? Jeff Carter, of course. Even though that goal won't show up in his season totals, its significance could be the season's high point. With one game in hand on the Phoenix Coyotes, are you willing to bet against a team that now boasts elite netminding, solid defense and now several offensive weapons?

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