Waking up with the Kings: February 16 - LA Kings Insider

-In Darryl Sutter’s post-game press conference, the question was asked whether the “best line” has been whichever line Kyle Clifford has played on. It was a relevant question, and not one I expected to be asked at the start of the season. Clifford has been very good, and his underrated speed and nose for driving to the net has been rewarded by the most consistent offensive performance of his career. He is on pace for 28 points in 48 games, which would double his career high of 14 points, set in his 76-game 19-year old rookie season of 2010-11. It will be interesting to see if Clifford can sustain his goal scoring pace – prior to this year, his career shooting percentage was 7.6%, and through 12 games this season his shooting percentage is 16.7%. The most interesting stat? Throughout his career, he has averaged exactly one shot per game. He has appeared in 169 career games, taking 169 shots. This year, he has taken 12 shots in 12 games. Darryl Sutter has been advocating Clifford to shoot more, and if he does – considering he’s someone who attempts the majority of his shots from close range – he’s likely to see a spike in his goal output, even if his shooting percentage doesn’t appear to be sustainable. His second period goal last night was a terrific individual effort. He was rewarded for his pressure at the Kings’ blue line in forcing the puck away from Nikita Nikitin with his stick before driving into the offensive zone and placing his shot inside the far post with a crisp snapshot after opting to shoot. Good things will happen if he starts taking more shots.

-Judging by Darryl Sutter’s postgame comments, I’m banking on Jonathan Quick getting back between the pipes in Chicago on Sunday. “I said we were going to ride a hot goalie, but at the same time, our schedule’s got to demand that Jonathan and Jonathan both play well for us” to me is indicative that he wants Quick to get back into a rhythm and re-establish the level of play he demonstrated a season ago. It’s unwise to start planning goaltenders games in advance, but I’d expect Quick to start in Chicago, while he and Bernier split the two games in Alberta. If Quick does go in Chicago tomorrow, it will be a pivotal start. After two games off to practice and refocus, it will be a strong benefit for the team if he produces a standout goaltending performance to dismiss the rotation questions that have arisen over the last week. Should he struggle after a week without game action, questions of that rotation will continue.

-That being said, Bernier was good for the second consecutive game. He didn’t face a ton of action but was good when called upon, especially during a Grade-A scoring chance during a Blue Jackets power play in the second period when he denied Derek Brassard’s point blank one-timer. He has been very good since a rough outing in relief of Quick in Anaheim two weeks ago. Still, the biggest question is whether this goaltending balance will help Quick find his game again, because L.A.’s ceiling is obviously raised considerably when he is operating at a high level.

-It wasn’t the prettiest game on the eyes Friday night – and they’ll certainly need a stronger performance versus the conference-leading Blackhawks – but I’m not ready to really recalibrate any opinions based on an effort against Columbus. At Staples Center, the Blue Jackets and Kings seem for whatever reason to engage in low-scoring, low-chance affairs, and last night’s game appeared to fit the familiar script. Most importantly, L.A.’s puck possession game and ability to spend the plurality of its time in the offensive zone were highlighted in the win, and by limiting Columbus to 13 shots on goal, they lowered their shots against average to 23.9 per game, which ranks second in the league.

-A much stiffer test awaits at the United Center, where the Blackhawks average 3.36 goals per game and allow 1.86 for an average goal differential of +1.5, easily the best in the league. Red hot Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford remains day-to-day with an upper body injury; he didn’t skate Friday morning, nor did he dress in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win over San Jose last night. If he is unable to go, count on Ray Emery (who is 4-0-0) starting against the Kings on Sunday afternoon. Chicago is yet to lose in regulation this season.

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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.