With the team entering into their second Stanley Cup Finals in the past three seasons starting Wednesday, “Happy Days” are upon the Los Angeles Kings. With their far out penchant for scoring groovy goals at tubular times, the Kings burned the defending champion Blackhawks during overtime of game seven like they were just a bunch of jive turkeys to clinch the Western Conference Finals. The Kings were “Born to Run;” and what a run they made, as they lit the (lava) lamp all the way to the finals.
Three of the most solid cats on the Kings team during this playoff run are Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli. Nicknamed “That 70’s Line,” they have been a blast from the past; forchecking hard and playing the kind of good ol’ fashioned hockey that would have made Bobby Clarke cry tears of joy (especially had his Flyers not jettisoned Carter).
Three’s not company for these fellows, who caught the Hawks on the flip side, boogying to the funky tune of goal horns quite often. Combining for 22 points in the series, without their heroics it might have been “good night John-boy”; as goaltender Jonathan Quick struggled at mightily against the Blackhawks.
Can you dig it? The Kings sure can.
Now, if you’re down with it, grab some good vibes and check out these dy-no-mite forwards that serve as the proverbial Forman, Hyde and Kelso for the Kings.
#77 Jeff Carter
Just like the 70’s Presidential picture would not be complete without an affable peanut farmer named Jimmy, “That 70’s Line” would not be complete without a Carter. As the only member of the trio that was around for the Kings’ Stanley Cup victory in 2012, the veteran Jeff Carter serves as “The Godfather” on the ice for Toffoli and Pearson.
When the Kings were jonesin’ for goals in the regular season like those in line at a gas pump circa late-1973, it was often Carter’s outta sight scoring that kept them in games.
Second in playoff goal scoring (22 points), Carter buries the biscuit with more flair than any of the bell bottoms stashed in the back of your closet. Without his hat trick in game two of the Western Conference Finals, the Kings may have had some trouble “Stayin’ Alive” to stage their epic game seven comeback.
With the best of the best often going head to head, it is often ‘Star Wars” come playoff time, and few stars shined brighter than that of Carter; who like Johnny Carson was on television screens, was a staple of late night, especially on the scorecards kept at the Staples Center.
#70 Tanner Pearson
With 41 hits in the playoffs, Pearson loves to “M*A*S*H” opponents into the boards. He doesn’t mind talking smack either, as he has shown the ability to both get people off the puck and get under opponents’ skin.
While it is true that sometimes he likes to “Walk On the Wild Side”, it’s a gamble that the Kings are more than willing to make. And if he is willing to “Grease” an opponent into taking a retaliation penalty, well that is right on.
He also keeps it real in his own end, ranking third in the postseason in plus/minus (plus-9). After needing more than a few “taxi” rides between the Kings and their AHL affiliate during the regular season, Pearson truly burst on the scene during this postseason run; doing so with more panache than John Travolta had when he burst onto the dance floor in “Saturday Night Fever”.
#73 Tyler Toffoli
Like basketballs that were shot by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his legendary sky hook, pucks just seem to go in the net for Tyler Toffoli when the game is on the line. The 22-year-old currently ranks fourth in playoff game winning goals. How did he manage this, you ask? By getting rid of more junk than “Sanford and Son” could have ever even dreamed of.
Toffoli is no chump however, he has plenty of skills in other areas as well. He is consistently “Blazing Saddles” with his speed; blowing by defenders and leaving them watching from their rear ends. Then he is blazing trails like Margaret Thatcher, except Toffoli’s may lead to another Stanley Cup for the Kings.
The Laverne to Carter’s Shirley. The Harold to Clifford’s Maude. Toffoli completes the trio, mirroring certain parts of the skill-set of each of his linemates. If this trio keeps on rolling in the finals it could spell “Bad News Bears” for the New York Rangers.