“You just come and go with it. At the end of the day, our team is not about worrying about where you’re playing or who you’re playing with. That’s kinda the culture we have here at a team – and it’s great to have that. It balances lines out. If I’m on the third line, then I can take advantage of being on the third line and playing against generally five/six defenceman and using my size and my skill to take advantage of that.”
Gaborik, meanwhile, is playing about 18 minutes a night, mostly with Kopitar, and has four points in his first eight games with the Kings, plus a shootout winner.
Gaborik went a similar adjustment last year, joining the Columbus Blue Jackets from the New York Rangers, where he scored eight points in 12 games for his new team, but was unable to help them get to the playoffs. The Kings will make the playoffs – and are locked in as the third seed in the Pacific Division, and will start on the road against either the San Jose Sharks or the Anaheim Ducks.
Gaborik is still staying in a hotel, but looking for a place in Los Angeles. Gaborik came close to signing with the Kings years ago, when he hit free agency.
“It still takes some time to get used to the system, but this team was established as a winning team over the last couple of years and they won a Cup. There’s a lot of structure to that. Everybody’s on the same page. Everybody knows what they’re doing. Everybody’s trusting each other out there. I like it.”
Kopitar said of playing with Gaborik: “I think you kinda have an idea of what his strengths are coming in, but you’ve got to get used to what type of game he wants to play in the offensive zone.
“He’s more of a give-and-go guy than a puck-possession guy. Once you figure that out, it’s pretty easy to play with him. I think we’ve been so far creating pretty good chances and we’re going to have to continue to do that – that’s no secret.”
Gaborik is in the final year of an expiring contract, but flirted with joining the Kings when he was a free agent four years ago, but ultimately chose to join the New York Rangers. At this stage of his career, Gaborik says the chance to play for a contender trumps all.
“Definitely, I want to win bad,” said Gaborik. “I landed at one of the contenders, which I’m very excited about. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out with Columbus, but that’s the way it is sometimes. I got dealt here. I was very excited by that. This is a good team, so … we’ve got to make sure we have a good push to end the regular season and get ready for playoffs.”
THIS AND THAT: Calgary received a third-round pick for Lee Stempniak from Pittsburgh and the fit there appears good, with Stempniak picking up Pascal Dupuis’s minutes on the top line with Sidney Crosby. But other teams may have missed a good bet when they didn’t push harder to get Flames’ Michael Cammalleri at the trading deadline, despite the fact that Calgary dropped the asking price. Cammalleri had eight goals in seven games following Saturday’s 8-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers and has 13 points over that stretch … The Flyers have opened up some distance on the rest of the field in the Metropolitan Division, too far behind Pittsburgh to catch them for top spot but solidifying their hold on a playoff spot after a a 12-2-1 run since Feb. 1 … Chicago’s salary-cap woes forced them to put Patrick Kane immediately on the long-term injury list, meaning he’ll miss 10 games and 24 days, but should be ready to play once the playoffs roll around. There is a thought that after last year’s short summer, along with Kane’s participation in the 2014 Olympics, that the rest may actually help him down the road, especially if the Blackhawks go on a long playoff run … After becoming the first team to officially clinch a playoff spot this year on Friday, the Boston Bruins extended their win streak to 12 games by defeating the Phoenix Coyotes Saturday, their longest since a 13-game run in the 1970-71 season, during the heyday of Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins. Jarome Iginla has three two-goal games in the last five and has nine goals in his last eight. With 557 career goals, Iginla moved past former Bruin star Johnny Bucyk into 25th place on the all-time goal-scoring list. Quite a year for Iginla, after signing with the Bruins as a free agent in the summer.
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