Centers in the middle of it all - LA Kings Insider

An earlier item touched on areas that the Phoenix Coyotes might seek to change in Game 2. First and foremost on that list will be trying to limit the effectiveness of the Kings’ first line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. Not only did the Kings get goals from Brown and Kopitar in Game 1, and a total of 15 shots on goal from those three players, but the line set the tone for the rest of the team to follow. Kopitar, in particular, was an effective puckhandler in the offensive zone, and there’s little doubt that the Coyotes will try to be more aggressive with that line and limit possession time. After practice today, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett and center Martin Hanzal talked about improving their play against the Kings’ top line.

TIPPETT: “We’ve gone up against some pretty good teams, pretty good center ice (players) here. We know what we’re up against. Like I said last night, I’m more concerned about making sure our guys play to their capabilities, we get everybody playing the way we think they should be playing, judge what the other team is doing. If we can get up to speed, see where we can get to. That’s the sense of our guys today. We recognized that L.A. played a strong game last night, but I think we can be much better than we were. Center ice is obviously very important in that. Our whole group can be a lot better.’’

HANZAL: “Obviously, their top two lines are really skilled, real strong on the puck. We’ve got to make sure we can be hard on these guys, physical and take the time and the space away from them and that’s going to be a key tomorrow.’’

The center matchup was also a storyline when the Kings played the St. Louis Blues, and the Kings faired well in that matchup. The Coyotes are also deep at center, and Darryl Sutter once again is looking toward the middle of the ice as a good measuring stick for both teams.

SUTTER: “Well, we liked them in our first two series, the matchups. We talked about it being an important part of it. I know everybody is talking about the matchups in this series. But that is just as important. When you look at Marty Hanzal and Vermette and Boyd Gordon and Daymond, four key guys on their team (against) four key guys on our team. You look at it in that light, in terms of expectations, minutes, how they’re used, there’s similarities. I said when I came here, I thought it was the strongest part of our team. Last year, Kopitar never played in the playoffs. Richie [Mike Richards] wasn’t here. Jarret Stoll was suspended one game. Fraz [Colin Fraser] was not here. If you look at it, it’s a total shift in that position. You know how important that position is.’’

Rules for Blog Commenting
  • - No profanity, slurs or other offensive language. Replacing letters with symbols does not turn expletives into non-expletives.
  • - Personal attacks against other blog commenters, and/or blatant attempts to antagonize other commenters, are not tolerated. Respectful disagreement is encouraged. Posts that continually express the same singular opinion will be deleted.
  • - Comments that incite political, religious or similar debates will be deleted.
  • - Please do not discuss, or post links to, websites that illegally stream NHL games.
  • - Posting under multiple user names is not allowed. Do not type in all caps. All violations are subject to comment deletion and/or banning of commenters, per the discretion of the blog administrator.
Jake Muzzin

#6 | 6′ 3″ | 216 lb | Age: 27

Born: Feb 21, 1989
Birthplace: Woodstock, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Left


Muzzin was drafted in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, before signing to the Kings in 2010. He has since become the first Woodstock, Ontario professional athlete to win a major sports trophy.

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.

Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.

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.