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Jeff Carter had a natural hat trick last night. It was Kings cap giveaway night at the Staples Center.
And you said Jeff Carter never scored timely goals.
It's been awhile since Carter's unceremonious exit from Philly (and subsequent Stanley Cup win), and between the Flyers' up-and-down season and the frantic, shortened NHL schedule, it's easy to lose track of what ex-Flyers are doing around the league (James van Riemsdyk and his 12 goals notwithstanding).
It's probably better that way.
See, Carter now has 14 goals this season. He's tied with Flyers-fan-favorite James Neal for second in the NHL. He's three goals behind league-leader/freak-of-nature Steven Stamkos (17). And he's five ahead of Flyers team leader Jake Voracek (9).
That's impressive on its own, but it's even more impressive given the circumstances. Carter's played 20 games. Neal's played 23, Stamkos 22. Carter's averaging 17:55 TOI/G, just six seconds less than Neal (18:01), but more than four minutes less than Stamkos (22:07). In fact, Carter's played fewer minutes per game than anyone else in the top 12 in goal scoring, and in fewer games than all but two of the top 12.
Granted, he's got just two assists (playmaker he's not), but that aside he's producing in just about every area for L.A. He's winning 56% of his faceoffs (81/150), his 11 blocked shots are third among Kings forwards, and his Corsi numbers are admirable, if not spectacular (sixth on the Kings in Corsi relative, 10th in Corsi relative quality of competition).
On top of that, he's been consistent. He hasn't gone more than two consecutive games without a goal, and he's scored eight times in the last seven games.
So, yeah. The Flyers are still sub-.500, and Jeff Carter is a "Rocket" Richard contender coming off a Stanley Cup win.
Being a Philly sports fan is the greatest.