Who will be the centers of attention? - LA Kings Insider

Much of the pre-series attention has been put on the defensemen and goalies, and rightfully so, given that the Kings and Blues are both deep and strong on the back end. But don’t be surprised if the matchup at center is a huge determining factor in the series. St. Louis can line up David Backes, Patrik Berglund and Jason Arnott on its first three lines, while the Kings counter with Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll. How, exactly, those lines will match up against each other remains to be seen, and it might not matter that much. The Blues basically have 1a and 1b lines, with Backes and Berglund, and Darryl Sutter seems comfortable simply rolling his lines and letting the matchups fall where they may. Of course, in St. Louis, Ken Hitchcock gets the final line change, so it will be interesting to see what matchups he desires.

STOLL: “They can all make plays and they’re all pretty offensive guys, so we’re definitely going to have to neutralize that and do a good job in the faceoff circle. Puck possession is going to be key, and getting in on the forecheck and not let those guys get the puck through the middle of the neutral zone.’’

How big of a role will Backes play in the series? He led the Blues with 24 goals in the regular season — and also had 30 assists in 82 games — and in the first-round series against San Jose, Backes had one goal in five games. Hitchcock said he’s looking for more from Backes, his captain.

HITCHCOCK: “The first thing he has to do is trust his linemates a little more. Secondly, he’s got to play more reckless. He played safe. Playing against Joe (Thornton) is no day at the beach. Joe was dialed in and Joe was playing for his life, and he was a terrific player in our series. David had his hands full. The other thing is, sometimes 5-on-5, with as much as David plays on the power play and he plays killing penalties, sometimes 5-on-5 is almost a rest. We want to get him past that, where he is really contributing more 5-on-5 because he’s back playing a little more reckless, and not so careful. He plays reckless on the power play, which is great and helps us. He’s obviously a great penalty-killer. We just want him to trust his linemates and not be kind of the safety net that he thinks he has to be all the time.’’

Another interesting subplot could be Backes vs. Dustin Brown, even if their lines don’t end up getting matched against each other frequently. The two captains both play hard-nosed games and have the ability to impact a series on multiple fronts.

BROWN: “I think we both play in all situations and we’re both physical. I think it’s important for myself to have an impact physical, especially on some of their skilled defensemen. They have a lot of defensemen that can move the puck. I’m sure he will be trying to do the same to ours.’’

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.