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Lockout gave Kings forward Jeff Carter time to regroup

February 05, 2013|By Lisa Dillman
  • Jeff Carter says the NHL lockout gave him time to let some nagging injuries heal and get stronger before the season started.
Jeff Carter says the NHL lockout gave him time to let some nagging injuries… (Victor Decolongon / Getty…)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Of course, now that labor peace has taken hold, it sounds wildly off-base to suggest that the long-and-winding NHL lockout assisted anyone.

But it helped Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick recover from his August back surgery, giving him a few more months to rehabilitate and prepare for the shortened season.

The second Kings’ candidate is a little less obvious: Jeff Carter.

“Absolutely. It was a long couple of years for me,” Carter said Tuesday after the morning skate here. “I’ve had a lot of injuries with my feet, with my ankles. It was nice just to get away, let things heal, get some time in the gym and get stronger.

“I think it’s helped me out a lot this year. I feel pretty good out there.”

Carter has stood out for the offensively challenged Kings. He has had more moments of jump early on -- three goals in seven games -- than he did for long stretches after joining the Kings from Columbus in February right before the trade deadline last season.  

His ankle injury, suffered in late March at Calgary, needed time to heal. He landed in a walking boot, returned for the playoffs, but issues with the injury lingered until about the third round.

“It was bothering me, no doubt about it,” said Carter, who had eight  goals and 13 points in the playoffs. “By the third round, and the Finals, it felt pretty good. When I came back, it felt like every time I got hit I was tweaking it. The strength wasn’t there. It was pretty tender too.”

There would not be much memory lane stuff for Carter. After all, he returned to play against Columbus not long after the trade, anyhow. And it was a tumultuous tenure here, all of 39 games with the Blue Jackets.

Memory lane ... how about memory minute?

“Honestly, with the way the season is, you can’t think about it too much,” Carter said. “It’s a big game for both teams. I think we’re both in the same position right now. We’re right there. It’s a huge two points.

“You’re playing every night or every other night. There’s not a lot of time to think. Obviously you’re thinking about the game, not all the extra stuff behind the scenes.”

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