NEWARK, NJ Apparently it was a Flyers thing, and not a Jeff Carter thing.
One year after the Philadelphia Flyers jettisoned both Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in trades after determining they were a problem inside a dysfunctional dressing room, the troubled duo are still standing.
Theyre just two wins away from being Stanley Cup champions, and the Flyers are taking up tee times all over the world.
Further adding insult to Philly injury, Carter potted the game-winning shot in overtime during a Herculean shift that pushed the Los Angeles Kings to a 2-1 victory at the Prudential Center.
Its a pretty special moment, said Carter. Its my first overtime goal in the playoffs. Obviously anytime you get a chance to play in the Finals its exciting, but scoring an overtime goal in Game 2 to put us up 2-0 in the series. Thats pretty special.
The play started with a scramble in front of the New Jersey net, and a tiring group of Devils players looking for a whistle with the puck resting in front of the net.
Carter wrapped around the back of the net while beating every Devils player to the loose puck, and then curled to his left before dragging back into the slot area moving right to left.
Carter buried a bullet of a shot at the 13:42 mark with Dustin Penner using his 6-foot-4, 250-pound bulk to screen Martin Brodeur in front of the net, and the Kings are once again well on their way to a short postseason series triumph.
Though Carter finished with only 21 goals in a star-crossed year going from Columbus to Los Angeles, it was the kind of sizzling shot that would have been a goal had Brodeur seen the puck or not.
Good to see him score, right? asked Darryl Sutter rhetorically after the Kings took their 2-0 lead. Hes a goal-scorer. Youre counting on him to score a big goal.
Too many times with the Flyers Carter never scored that big goal despite gaudy numbers, but his LA redemption story has been a sweet one.
The overtime win pushes the Kings to 10-0 on the road during the playoffs this year an NHL record -- but thats not the most eye-popping number when it comes to Carter and his Los Angeles teammates. The Kings are 25-7 in the regular season and playoffs in 32 games since Carter arrived in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and reunited him with his Dry Island partner in Philly, Richards.
Dry Island was a reference to the notion within the Flyers organization that both Richards and Carter werent fully focused on the playoffs last year, and the idea that a parting of ways was necessary.
Its not a coincidence that Carters arrival in LA has brought the wins.
Its instead one of the driving reasons why the eighth-seeded LA hockey club has taken the world by storm during the postseason. They havent played like an eight seed since a healthy, happy and productive Carter joined the Los Angeles lineup.
Carters Kings teammates immediately noticed a difference when the Columbus Blue Jackets exile was brought on board, and the Kings had some consistent offense to go with Jonathan Quick and the stifling LA defense.
He was very professional. Hes been focused since he got with us, said Penner. He knew we needed some offensive scoring punch. He came in and had familiarity with Richards and that helped a lot.
I can speak from experience about being traded, but not while having a 10 or 12 year deal like those guys did. Its probably disheartening when you expected to be part of the Flyers franchise for a long time. When you get a 12-year deal you probably expect that youll always be there. Im sure it was tough on him. But hes been professional since he came here. Its great for him to get a goal like that.
Clearly both Richards and Carter left the City of Brotherly Love with something to prove, and their Kings experience has allowed them a chance to do just that.
We were pretty mad. I'm not going to lie," admitted Richards of the deals that sent the two buddies away from the Flyers to differing NHL locales. "It's something that I've never had before. I've never been traded; Jeff's never been traded. For us to be traded at the same time, I think was a lot of venting to each other."
Had things gone stale with the Flyers for both players, or did they just need a swift kick in the pants to get them motivated enough for a Stanley Cup title?
Perhaps, but there wont be too many complaints from Los Angeles after Kings GM Dean Lombardi showed a riverboat gamblers moxie in putting the Philly twosome back together again. Richards was sent to L.A. for forwards Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, and an undisclosed draft pick.
Carter was dealt to Columbus for forward Jakub Voracek, the No. 8 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft (Sean Couturier) and a third-round pick in the 2011 draft (Nick Cousins).
Fast forward a year and now Carter and Richards have been reunited in Los Angeles, theyre living together in a condo on Manhattan Beach and theyve got the Kings 120 minutes of good, winning hockey away from the organizations first Stanley Cup title.
Perhaps theyll even take the Cup to Dry Island for a visit on their respective Cup days should Carter and Richards finish off the job they helped start with two road wins in New Jersey.