Waking up with the Kings: October 29 - LA Kings Insider

There’s not much more to read here that hasn’t been said already, but the only immediately accessible frame of reference for Anze Kopitar faceoff win to set up Tyler Toffoli’s buzzer beater isn’t even in hockey. It’s Derek Fisher’s catch-and-shoot off an inbounds pass from Gary Payton with 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final between the Lakers and Spurs in 2004. There have been buzzer beaters – including one memorable one that brought “coulombs” into the lexicon of Kings fans – but nothing as improbable as what we witnessed last night. The emotion and unpredictability of the event was so well captured by Alex Faust and Jim Fox, and both broadcasts were right to use the term “unbelievable.” There are certain terms, such as “miracle,” that should never be used in broadcasting unless a team of scrappy college kids beats the Soviets. “Unbelievable” is kind of a similar term, but it does capture the sheer improbability and spur-of-the-moment incredulity of a moment in which context and reference is extremely difficult to process coherently. Moments before calling the buzzer-beater, Jack Edwards of NESN said, “there’s almost zero percent chance that could happen,” and that’s a very accurate way of setting up the play. I also thought the NESN home broadcast did a terrific job of backing off momentarily and letting the play breathe so that the images could tell the story, which is something that that would only work for the broadcast of the team getting scored on. For the team that wins the game, the instinctual exclamation of such a highly unusual moment was representative of the unadulterated joy at ice level.

Steve Babineau/NHLI

Lookin’ at you, lockdown Kings checking. Five games into a six-game trip, Los Angeles would be challenged by its physical and emotional reservoir, especially when facing a team that was on home ice and tied for the fewest games played in the league. And Boston controlled play early in the first period, using a high-speed cycle game that temporarily flummoxed L.A. on switches and resulted in an impressive Charlie McAvoy-Brad Marchand redirection. (Marchand, who has success virtually anywhere, now has 10 goals in 13 games against the Kings, a count bettered only by his tallies against Florida, Toronto, Ottawa and Buffalo.) And even as the B’s were swarming in the L.A. zone, the trajectory of the game changed on one play when Torey Krug heard Adrian Kempe’s footsteps and chose to pass the puck up the middle, where Toffoli intercepted it and patiently backhanded the puck past a prone Tuukka Rask on the Kings’ first shot. From then on, Los Angeles found legs and asserted itself well throughout the remainder of the first period. In the second, they locked the door and threw the key into Boston Harbor. The Pearson-Kempe-Toffoli line was the Kings’ best line at even strength and won a significant number of battles that helped even out a game after the more rested Bruins played with excellent pace and structure through the first eight minutes. The win was representative of the desire to create opportunities in the attacking end off airtight checking in all three zones.

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Kopitar line was also quite good, and with another 25 minutes logged, Anze is encroaching on Drew Doughty usage. His ice time of 21:55 per game is the fourth highest average among league forwards, and if he doesn’t win that faceoff directly into a teed-up Toffoli wheelhouse, the game essentially turns into a coin flip. His line’s shift at the end of regulation was a strong demonstration of his own puck protection ability and desire to will the team to victory when he didn’t exactly have a full gas tank remaining. Alex Iafallo also gained a step on his defenders and made several notable cuts towards the goalmouth, though Rask, like Jonathan Quick, was excellent in closing the door on high-quality attempts. As noted since the dawn of time, it does seem as though Iafallo will break through relatively soon, but that’s not particularly important at the moment. The team is 9-1-1, and his presence to the left of Kopitar has balanced out the top line when there were valid questions heading into the season of who would play with Los Angeles’ captain. He was excellent in overtime, and if not for the Quick-Rask rising tide, could’ve ended the game earlier with several opportunities. An excellent early season match-up with the Blues awaits, with both teams having transitioned from their war-of-attrition heavy games into more of a hybrid style of play that reinforces checking and their defensive identities meshed with the ability to get pucks back quickly and play faster. The Kings have already etched out a terrific trip; Monday’s game has the possibility to place it in conversation of all-time franchise road trips.

Steve Babineau/NHLI

-Lead photo via Steve Babineau/NHLI

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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

Bio

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.
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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

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

Bio

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.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

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

Bio

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.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

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

Bio

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.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

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

Bio

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.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

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

Bio

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.

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