Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 6/3/12
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Jeff Carter's blond, scruffy playoff beard is just long enough to obscure the chip on the Los Angeles Kings forward's shoulder. It reveals itself when talking about his path to Southern California. "A lot of people were doubting me out there," Carter told reporters at the Toyota Center on Sunday. "I know that. This an opportunity to go out there, get a Stanley Cup and prove everybody wrong." "Everybody" is certainly an exaggeration, although those nonbelievers were quieted at least briefly with Carter's game-winning goal in Game 2 on Saturday, an overtime tally that gave the Kings a 2-1 victory and a 2-0 edge in the Stanley Cup Final. The best-of-7 series resumes at Staples Canter Monday night. Carter was dealt by the Philadelphia Flyers a team that drafted him in the first round in 2003 to the Columbus Blue Jackets last June. Exiled could be more accurate, however, as Carter went from a team that he helped to the finals in 2010 to a Columbus team that has qualified for the playoffs just once in its history. "It wasn't an easy situation obviously," Carter said. "Being in Philly for six years, all you do there is win, right? That's really all you know. They teach you the right way there. Going to Columbus, it was a team that was struggling. Obviously there were some expectations going into the season. Things didn't work out the way everybody had hoped. I'm happy where I'm at now." Carter was reunited with former Flyers teammate Mike Richards who was dealt that same day in June, but to the Kings via a trade in February. "Right when he got traded here, we were both excited," Richards said of the Carter trade. "Maybe one or two times, we were sitting on a beach on an off day trying to get some rest (and realized) that this is an amazing place to play." The Southland can be an even more hospitable place if Carter and Richards can lead this 44-year-old franchise to its first Stanley Cup title. Still, this is Hollywood and despite the fact a good portion of the population has hopped on the bandwagon, hockey players, like Carter, typically go unnoticed. "Once you get on the ice, hockey is hockey," Carter said. "But (in Los Angeles), you can kind of get away from it a little bit. It's been kind of growing a little more. People are starting to recognize us a little lately. Still, it's a little easier to get away." No, this certainly isn't Philly where the watchful media is eclipsed only by the rabid fan base that flocks to Broad Street. It's there where Carter and Richards developed a reputation, rightly or wrongly, as guys who enjoyed the nightlife. In the aftermath of last summer's transactions, The Philadelphia Daily News reported that both Carter and Richards refused to sign a pledge not to drink for a month, an initiative implemented by head coach Peter Laviolette. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren denied partying had anything to do with either trade. Whatever the reason for the trade, Carter, 27, is thriving. Foot, ankle and shoulder injuries limited Carter to 55 regular season games and it took a while for him to find his rhythm upon his arrival to Southern California. The 6-foot-4 center, however, has been stellar in the playoffs. His first career playoff overtime goal was his fifth overall in the playoffs. He had a playoff hat trick in Game 2 in the Western Conference Final against the Phoenix Coyotes and added two assists in the series-clinching Game 5 against Phoenix. "This is where hockey is the most fun," said Carter, who has five assists in the playoffs. "This is what every guy wants to play for. This is where you want to be." If the Kings close out this series, Carter's chip may remain. The fate of his beard, however, is certain. "A couple more wins and we'll be getting rid of these real quick," Carter quipped.
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