Waking up with the Kings: November 13 - LA Kings Insider

After Tuesday’s Anaheim game, I asked someone who had seen last weekend’s Ducks-Sharks game what their impression of San Jose was, knowing the teal-clad Northern Californians had made some significant strides in their team game since some early season struggles. The answer? There’s a way they have to play to be successful, and it revolves around their ability to check and defend well and win low-scoring games. It was shared that it’s not entirely different from recent Kings teams, and comments over the last several days by John Stevens and the players shared the similarities and highlighted some minor differences between the teams’ often close-to-the-vest identities. On Sunday, it was the Sharks who minimized their mistakes and defended exceptionally well, closing off passing lanes, shutting down options down low, getting their sticks and bodies in front of shots, relying on standout goaltending and demonstrating stout defensive zone coverage that yielded one power play goal, and by LAKI’s count, only seven five-on-five scoring opportunities. Over the final 40 minutes of the game, it almost appeared as though there were six Sharks in their defensive zone whenever the Kings were attempting to set up plays and get pucks through to hard areas. Through that game span, Los Angeles was out-shot, 29-19.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

Essentially, this was a game between the top two goals-against teams in the league that was decided when the Kings were unable to put a second puck behind Martin Jones for valuable insurance. Try as they might – and oh, Tyler Toffoli tried all night – the Adrian Kempe line had the best chances out of any line at even strength but was unable to convert. Kempe led his winger so well with a slick northbound puck towards Tanner Pearson after a controlled zone entry, and Pearson was able to get Martin Jones to open up his legs after cutting to the front of the crease, but couldn’t tuck the puck into the opening and beyond the goal line on the backhand. Questions can be raised as to whether Pearson, who has one even strength goal this season, has been significantly affected by the absence of right-shooting Jeff Carter, because Tyler Toffoli has largely been the beneficiary of that group’s switch to a left-shooting center. Pearson has contributed in other ways, and has still been making plays and generating his share of chances; the goals from that line are mostly coming from Toffoli at this point. If that one mini-break ends with a different result, we’re probably here talking about the Kings’ ability to win a tight divisional game against a rival team and further distancing themselves from the Pacific Division pack. Less than two minutes later, the game was tied. Obviously Martin Jones was very good, but Jonathan Quick was every bit as solid and was simply felled by a seeing-eye skate redirect.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

Another game, another call to tighten up puck management and scoring chances created off turnovers. The game-tying goal followed a flukish turnover that caromed off Tomas Hertl’s skate and directly to Melker Karlsson, who finished off Hertl’s rebound. It happened shortly after Los Angeles couldn’t get its forecheck going, and San Jose maneuvered through a fast, successful zone exit before working the puck into the offensive zone. On the game-winner, an exchange between Drew Doughty and Nick Shore failed to get the puck deep, thus putting the team in a position where they could get burned by an unfortunate deflection. Again: too many shots against. With an average of 33.1 shots against per game – including 33 allowed in Sunday’s loss – the Kings are tied for 22nd in the league in that category. Their league-leading .927 save percentage has masked some of the challenges they’ve faced in puck management, which has to be improved for the team to uphold its impressive early season pace.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

-Lead photo via Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

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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.