Back in October, during a visit to the MayorsManor show, Jeff Carter said – “I’ve only been to In-N-Out once since I’ve been here because I’m trying to watch my weight. With the lockout, I don’t want to pack too many pounds on.”
A few days later, goaltender Jonathan Quick got a big laugh out of hearing that and chirped back with – “Out of shape? I don’t think he’ll have that problem. He could use a couple of burgers, to be honest.”
Apparently, Carter didn’t take the bait.
He came into training camp in phenomenal shape and has arguably been the Kings’ most consistent forward through the first 11 games.
“The time off gave me a chance to get away and kind of heal up,” the 28-year old explained. “I had a couple seasons there with a lot of injuries and then moving around teams and stuff like that. So it was good to have a chance to get away, regroup, get in the gym and get stronger. It’s been huge for me.”
And it ‘s shown in his early stats – including six goals to lead the team.
“He’s playing with a lot of energy for sure,” said Anze Kopitar. “He’s been playing in all situations. He’s been the best player for us so far. So, hopefully he’ll keep it going and some of us will catch up and get going again.”
Technically, Kopitar and Carter are currently tied with seven points each.
“I think that it’s just a healthy competition really,” said Kopitar. “Not that I’m going to look at it or anything - and he probably won’t look at it either.”
Is that a little easier to say when you’re the guy who has lead the team in points for five straight seasons?
“No, you want to (score points) to help the team win,” he continued. “But, you want to build a good team together where you win games, not just look for points.”
Carter agrees and feels like a true member of the Kings now even more than he did before.
“I felt like it last year too,” he said. “It’s a pretty easy room to come into, especially with me knowing a lot of the guys. Yet, I think just to move out here and hangout with them more away from the rink, and do normal stuff. It’s been big.”
New team, new address and now a new position. There always seems to be some sort of change surrounding Carter.
After primarily playing right wing in LA, he’s recently been moved back to center – something he’s played plenty of in his career.
“Center gives me a little more free reign I guess,” Carter noted. “More options to get going and use my speed. Wing is just kind of up and down the wall and stops and starts. I’ve played both for so long now that it doesn’t really matter to me.”
There is at least one thing that still matters to Carter though.
He admitted to hearing all those boo birds in Columbus last week. So, when Friday’s rematch at Staples Center came into the conversation, a huge smile spread across his face.
“I want to beat them every time!” he quickly remarked. “At the same time, it’s another big game for us. We’re tied in points right now. So, it’s another two points closer to a playoff spot for us.”
Don’t ever believe it when you hear athletes say they don’t care about playing their former teams. They always do.
And they’re usually up for a friendly wager too.
So, we suggest Kopitar vs. Carter – the guy with the fewest points buys the burgers….after the playoffs, of course.
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