Waking up with the Kings: March 30 - LA Kings Insider

Several abbreviated thoughts from Thursday’s 4-2 win over Arizona:

-In a game with good purpose and energy right off the hop, the LA Kings ably withstood an as-expected first period push from a Coyotes team that has increased its pace, its forecheck and play without the puck. That’s a difficult spot for Arizona at the end of a six-game, cross-country trip in in which they were on Eastern Time some three days prior, but the visitors etched out a first period that transferred their precision (and Kevin Connauton all-worldliness) from recent successes against Tampa Bay and Vegas into Staples Center and hopped out to an early-ish lead. Arizona isn’t tanking; on the contrary, they’re playing their best hockey of the last several seasons and appear virtually ready to take that next step from a team that has wandered the desert into one on the verge of being able to challenge for a playoff berth in the Pacific Division. Without Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jason Demers, they still gritted out tough results at the end of a road trip and were neck-and-neck with the Kings competitively for the first period, and were still even scoreboard-wise for the first two. But Los Angeles received several big goals, the first coming off an important late first period tally on Jeff Carter’s deflection of Derek Forbort’s shot, and the second on Carter’s impressive redirect after Dion Phaneuf had kept the puck in at the blue line and issued a hard, low, deflectable attempt towards Darcy Kuemper.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

-Carter’s third goal was more of the Jeff Carter that we’re familiar with. It was a forechecking goal fairly reminiscent of That 70’s Line (minus Pearson, plus Rieder) as Tyler Toffoli slapped the puck deep on a hard rim, Toby Rieder got a piece of the puck while lifting up Christian Dvorak’s stick, and Carter stepped from the perimeter into the left circle to snap a skittering puck that dipped on Kuemper and beat him inside the far post. Carter’s not at 100%. He’s not demonstrating his full explosiveness. He is, however, a natural goal scorer, and goal scorers are able to score goals in a number of different ways, hence the higher percentage of markers off deflections since his return. This scoring spike also illustrates how smart and well positioned of a player he is. Even if he’s still working back to utilizing that same top speed, pre-surgery, his smarts, positioning and ability to read the play have helped the cerebral aspects of his game while his body continues to get back up to speed.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

-Los Angeles turned the tides of the game in the second period, even if it wasn’t necessarily reflected on the scoreboard until late in the third. Kuemper, as he was for the Kings, was very good for the Coyotes. He denied a high-grade Anze Kopitar redirect in the first period amidst some Alex Iafallo and Adrian Kempe near-misses. His best succession of saves came in the third with the game tied as he stopped Carter’s close-range attempt before Toffoli hit the post and followed his rebound by snapping the puck into Kuemper’s blocker on a Grade-A look. At the other end of the ice, Jack Campbell continued to provide the excellent minutes in net undertaken by Kings backups, who have points in 17 of the 18 games they’ve earned decisions in this season. Since the Kuemper/Rieder swap, there has been no dip in the quality of goaltending when Jonathan Quick is off the ice. The Kings rank third in the league with a .921 save percentage, and should they qualify for the playoffs, it will be on the back of their top players’ rebounding as well as the terrific performances in net by both Quick and his understudies.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

-Lead photo via Adam Pantozzi/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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