The Los Angeles Kings have been playing on another level. On March 5, 2014 they bolstered the roster by acquiring veteran forward Marian Gaborik. On March 6, Gaborik played his first game with the Kings, and the Kings won their sixth straight game; a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
Gaborik played wing on a line centered by Anze Kopitar. Justin Williams was on the other wing.
The Kings fell behind 1-0 in the second period, but Dustin Brown tied the game just 42 secs later. Later in the period, Mike Richards stole a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone, and broke in to the Jets zone with Jeff Carter. It was a 2-on-1 break, and as everyone in the building was thinking Richards would feed it to the sniper Carter, Richards deftly ripped a shot by goaltender Ondrej Pavelec to give the Kings a 2-1 lead.
In the third period, Alec Martinez showed off some nifty skating and puck handling before ripping home a slapshot at 15:51. The power play goal was a nice insurance marker, as the Kings went on to victory.
It seems the team has kicked it in to a much higher gear. There are less than 20 games left in the season, and the Kings are finally playing the type of hockey which propelled them to the mountaintop in 2012. Not just the skaters, but goaltender Jonathan Quick also has been almost invincible.
During this six-game win streak, the Kings have allowed only 8 goals, and have outscored opponents 18-8; Colorado (lost 6-4 goals on Feb 26) is the only team to have scored more than one goal during this win streak.
Quick started all but the Colorado game, and has allowed only 4 goals in five games.
The addition of Gaborik can only be positive -
Gaborik was considered a bonafide All-Star at one point in his career. The 32 year old Slovakian has scored 30 or more goals seven times his previous 13 seasons, and eclipsed the 40 goal mark three times; the most recent being in the 2011-12 season while skating with the New York Rangers. Only twice in his career, has he finished a season with a negative plus/minus rating. His career stats show an overall plus/minus rating of +89 to go along with his 342 and 346 assists. He played his first eight seasons with the Minnesota Wild, so he is not prone to defensive lapses. He missed a large chunk of this season due to injury. If he stays healthy the rest of the way, he could provide a much-needed spark in crucial situations such as special teams.
Little or no downside if Gaborik does not fit in -
The price was forward Matt Frattin, and two draft picks. If it doesn't work out, Gaborik will become a UFA in July 2014. Brilliant move by GM Dean Lombardi. Acquire a quality player without truly depleting the current roster; just what the team needs for the stretch run.
The most publicized trade deadline day deal, was NY Rangers captain Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay for Tampa Bay captain Martin St Louis, but ultimately Gaborik to the Kings may prove to have been the most significant.
*In his first game as a member of the L.A. Kings, Gaborik logged 16:38 of ice time, had 3 shots on goal, and had a plus/minus rating of -1.
Kings forward line combinations vs Winnipeg: