Waking up with the Kings: March 27 - LA Kings Insider

One down, five to go. Perhaps not to the extent as Thursday’s game – the Coyotes, 14-7-2 in their last 23, have wreaked some havoc on late-season Kings pushes before – Monday’s “must-win” game against the Flames did serve up a small helping of heebie-jeebies, not by virtue of the limited personnel in the lineup, but more in the form of goalie Mike Smith, who entered the game with a .930 career save percentage against Los Angeles. (See: Arizona wreaking havoc on L.A. this time of the year.) For one period, there may have been a few uncomfortable collar tugs as Smith turned away high-grade chances from Adrian Kempe, Trevor Lewis, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar. Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, Calgary’s only real push came from a duo of Nick Shore and Sam Bennett, the former who entered the game without a point in three games with the Flames, and the latter who has seen his goal totals shrink in each of the two years that followed the fourth overall pick’s impressive 18-goal, 19-year-old season. (His drive to the front of the net, disrupted by a Quick pokecheck, may have been the most dangerous Calgary opportunity for the first 20-to-30 minutes of the game.) But Bennett took three minor penalties , and an eventually opportunistic Kings group cashed in on two of them while riding a power play wave en route to a 3-0 win. There were skirmishes between the not-quite-friendly divisional rivals, but there wasn’t really much drama. The Kings got what they needed and put an X on another date on the calendar.

Harry How/Getty Images

Jake Muzzin’s injury is listed as “week-to-week,” per hockey ops, and that’s going to present a challenge. Rebound-wise, Muzzin, whose game was off for much of the previous season, can be mentioned in virtually the same breath as Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, even if his bounce-back hasn’t been as clearly and visibly pronounced as the two stars who’ve also engineered resurgent seasons. He has broken through with a clear step forward in his game and has taken major strides towards the consistency that hadn’t always been there for him by relying heavily on his checking game, an aspect of his skill set that leads to offense at the other end of the ice. At the time of the injury, he had goals in back-to-back games and had set a career-high in points with his marker in Edmonton. Importantly, he has been a clear and very good number two defenseman who plays in all situations. That’s where it gets a little tricky. Alec Martinez is also an all-situational player and earns roughly the same ice time as Muzzin, but would it preferable to move him from his partnership with Dion Phaneuf? And because Muzzin is a right-handed shot, does that mean that Kevin Gravel, and not Paul LaDue, would be the next in line to step in? Previously, John Stevens has called upon LaDue when he has made adjustments to his defensive group, and this would be asking an awful lot from Gravel, who hasn’t dressed since the February 7 win over Edmonton and would be earning critical minutes with major late-season implications. Interesting decisions lay ahead for Stevens and company.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

Two weeks ago, the Kings, Sharks, Ducks and Flames were all 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. The Kings are now 5-3-2, while the Flames have dropped out, the Ducks are 6-3-1 and the Sharks have won eight straight. Los Angeles will have a hard time making the playoffs without engineering some sort of winning or unbeaten-in-regulation streak. The Blues have won five in a row. The Avs are 6-3-1 in their last 10. Teams that qualify for the playoffs do so through their own merit, not on the backs of teams that provide assistance. The playoff bar appears to be right around 97 points this season. 3-1-1 will probably get the team in, based on their superior count of regulation and overtime wins. Anything less than that, and be prepared to sweat like Jordan Peele.

Harry How/Getty Images

-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

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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