Waking up with the Kings: December 2 - LA Kings Insider

The Los Angeles Kings scored twice before the game’s first TV timeout on Friday night. Is that good? With a performance that represented the continued the swell in their team game, they jumped out to an early lead and, after the St. Louis Blues pulled within one in the second period, received an important late second period dagger that re-established the two-goal difference. From then, they used a committed team-wide effort that kept the hosts off the scoreboard in the third in widening their impressive late-game goal differential. It’s time to revisit the February, 2013 Dustin Brown quote, because it applies here. “Let’s just say we haven’t been playing our best hockey, and sometimes you say at the end of losing streaks and at the end of winning streaks, sometimes you’re losing games you shouldn’t, and sometimes you’re winning games you shouldn’t, as well,” he said after the Kings put up 47 shots at Joe Louis Arena but fell to the Red Wings, 3-2, on a goal in the final seconds. Towards the end of the Kings’ winning streak this season, they weren’t playing great hockey, but Jonathan Quick and Darcy Kuemper were bailing them out. And though Los Angeles went through an extended November rut, something appeared to change late in their doldrums. I thought they played a really solid game in the narrow loss to Winnipeg, and though that was followed by a so-so outing at Arizona, they’ve by and large built a crescendo in their game that has culminated with a four game winning streak, the final three games of which they’ve won on the road to give themselves the opportunity to cap off a tremendous road trip Sunday night at the United Center.

Scott Rovak/NHLI

The game was well punctuated. For the third time in three games on the trip, the Kings exited the second period with a lead. They’ve outscored their opponents 5-0 in third periods on the trip, lifting their goal differential over the final 20 minutes of regulation to an impressive +21. They’ve outshot the Red Wings, Capitals and Blues 26-24 in these late-game situations. Yada, yada, yada. But it’s important, in protecting multi-goal third period leads, to not cede an early goal. St. Louis had an opportunity to cut into the Los Angeles lead with an early third period power play, and the Kings didn’t allow much more than a few sniffs at the net in an impressive display. Darcy Kuemper was called upon to make one of his six saves on Vladimir Tarasenko during the kill, but there were no shots that came within 25 feet of the net. From there, L.A. really seemed to build off a successive string of shifts in which all players were involved and contributing, and it resulted in Tanner Pearson – who had another strong night at the Scottrade Center – pressuring Vince Dunn and Colton Parayko into a fumbled hand-off, resulting in a quick-strike as he issued a heads-up puck towards Tyler Toffoli, who crashed the net and stuffed it past Jake Allen. In the final 20 minutes, Adrian Kempe had seven shifts. Jonny Brodzinski had six. Kurtis MacDermid jumped over the boards eight times. For four rookies to get regular shifts in the third period of a game against the team that (at the time) led the Western Conference, and to come away with a win, is a boon for the confidence of the young players and the balance in which John Stevens allots his minutes. It also kept Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar well below their average usage on the second night of a back-to-back.

Jeff Curry/NHLI

Kuemper’s save percentage is .944. Jonathan Quick’s save percentage is .929. The Kings’ team save percentage is a league-leading .931. Anze Kopitar is having an explosive season offensively (and his scoring rate will ultimately slow somewhat, because his 19.1% shooting percentage is over three percentage points higher than his highest shooting percentage in any single season), but the team’s MVPs through the first 27 games of the season have been their goaltenders, who allowed the team to construct its game early and have hardly let up since.

Scott Rovak/NHLI

-Lead photo via Jeff Curry/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

Bio

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

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

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

Bio

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