Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter Injury Hits Team Hard

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29: Sergei Bobrovsky
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29: Sergei Bobrovsky /
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The Los Angeles Kings are off to a strong start, but Jeff Carter’s injury could put an end to it. 

If you are a Los Angeles Kings fan, you have to be pretty happy with having a franchise record 5-0-1 start. However, its euphoria just went up in a puff of smoke. Assistant Captain, last year’s team scoring leader, and All-Star center Jeff Carter sustained a cut to his leg Wednesday night. It will require surgery to repair and will keep him out of the lineup indefinitely.

At the time of the injury, which occurred in the waning minutes of the first period in the Kings 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, no one knew what had happened. Even head coach John Stevens didn’t know too much about it.

"“It was just a harmless play”, [Stevens] said. “I was hoping at the time that it was a shot block or something that came loose.”"

Even as Carter skated off the ice, many fans in the attendance thought it was an equipment malfunction. It wasn’t until after the game that the extent of the injury was revealed.

The Kings have weathered injuries before. It’s something every team deals with because hockey is a hard-hitting, lightning-fast sport. Skaters soar around a slippery surface with super-sharp blades of steel on their feet while carrying big sticks.

Carter’s injury is a significant roadblock for the Kings, who are already having injury issues. Kyle Clifford is out indefinitely. Defenseman Alec Martinez just returned from injury. Now Carter must now begin the process of recovering, rehabbing, and reconditioning while his teammates fly east for a brutal stretch of games against Eastern Conference foes.

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The Kings took no time in signing veteran Brooks Laich, who had been with the team during the preseason but got cut loose before the start of the season. To his credit, the forward continued to skate with the team to keep in shape. To the Kings’ credit, they welcomed the competitive, seasoned veteran to stay close to the team, even though he had no contract and was receiving no pay.

Where Laich will slot in, if he plays at all, is unknown at this point. There are indications that Nick Shore could move up from the third line to center Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. No one will ever mistake Shore for Carter, but he is a face-off specialist and you never know when and where chemistry can develop. Shore knows he can’t replace one-third of the Kings talented 70’s Line, but he has been around long enough to know their tendencies.

"“I’ve been around them enough to know their game. It helps to know where guys are, certain spots they like to be. But for myself, you don’t really want to try to play any differently. You want to stick to your game and plug away.”"

Next: 3 Burning Questions For The Kings

The reality for the Kings and their fans is that the team is flying east today with no #77 on the passenger list. This should prove to be a critical test for them. Their fast start should help make things a little bit more manageable. But unquestionably, the Kings are a worse team without Carter.

There are already signs that other Kings are ready to step up and fill the Carter-void. All five goals in the Kings win the night Carter went down were scored by players who had not scored in the previous five games. The re-acquired Mike Cammalleri potted two goals and added two assists, while former first-round pick Andrian Kempe notched his first career hat-trick.