Los Angeles Kings Must Restore Team Identity Without Key Forwards

On Saturday night, the Los Angeles Kings’ forward corps underwent a sea change.

Youngsters Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, who have combined for 24 of the club’s 123 goals this season, are out indefinitely with mononucleosis and a fractured left fibula, respectively.

This represents a significant blow to a team in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race (20-14-10, third in the Pacific Division), but the Kings may also find a silver lining to these losses.

While L.A. will surely miss their contributions, shuffling the roster and demanding more from its veterans could right a ship that was skating by on a hot-and-cold power play.

Now is the time for the Kings to dig their heels in and reassert their gritty, fundamentally sound game.


Blue-Collar Offense

There are no two ways about it: The Kings attack will be less creative without Toffoli and Pearson.

Both 22-year-olds add a dynamism to the offense that had largely been absent prior to their arrivals as full-time NHLers. Toffoli is a crafty winger with great finish, whereas Pearson backs off defenders with his sheer pace and nonstop motor.

In addition to the flair they bring to the table, they just produce, too:

As a result of Saturday’s developments, the Kings have lost two of their most dangerous even-strength threats. 

With that said, their offense shouldn’t suddenly run dry moving forward. Head coach Darryl Sutter is faced with tough decisions, though.

Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter are terrific offensive players who should maintain their levels of production on the top line, but the Kings are seemingly better off with Carter at center, where he can push the pace with more room to work with than on Kopitar's wing.

His position has swept him to the periphery lately, glidin...

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