Waking up with the Kings: November 26 - LA Kings Insider

The LA Kings returned to the basics on Sunday night at Staples Center, getting sorely-needed performances from their top players and relying on strong checking efforts in beating the Edmonton Oilers for the 13th time in 14 chances on home ice. That they were tied after two periods and found a way to win was also a part a vintage script – they’re now 104-44-39 when square after two, dating back to 2009-10 – in which they contained the opposition’s superstars and got to the net against Cam Talbot and an Edmonton defense that provided them opportunity to do so. They set a good base for the game, charging out of the gates with firm energy and physicality, which led to power play chances and momentum. There was a direct link between that energy and the outcome, with Drew Doughty closing quickly to aggressively separate Leon Draisaitl from the puck and setting a rush opportunity in the other direction, where Anze Kopitar fed Dustin Brown for the first lead of the home stand. The only real impact of note from either Draisaitl or Connor McDavid was the latter’s savvy bank shot off Alex Chiasson’s knee while on the power play, so that’s a pretty good night at the office.

Juan Ocampo/NHLI

And yet, Ilya Kovalchuk. Six minutes and 20 seconds. Recent Willie Desjardins appraisals of Kovalchuk have been laced with wisps of positivity but have largely been weighed down by ambiguously dismissive observances like “he relies totally on offense, he’s not a huge checker.” With a 31st-ranked power play, the Kings have gone back to a familiar number one unit that has experience together, so Kovalchuk, signed to be a power play weapon, isn’t getting a large helping of the minutes on the man advantage at this point. So, yes, there’s certainly a situationally-based reason for his decrease in shifts – Los Angeles also had to bridge McDavid shifts with two different lines, Desjardins said, and in the third period went with the checkers who to that point had contributed a great deal to the successful team game – but it’s impossible to look at the forward’s 6:20 and think that the marriage between player and coach is at a particularly healthy point. All parties will be happy that the team won, first and foremost. Desjardins also reduced Kovalchuk’s usage in the third period of the St. Louis game, an L.A. win, so Sunday’s usage isn’t without precedent for success. But, again, it’s hard to think of these recent episodes without considering a larger picture: that Kovalchuk, signed over the off-season for three years at $18.75-million at the age of 35, started the 23rd game of the season on the fourth line and didn’t receive a shift in the third period. If this was designed to spur the forward, who was the Kings’ leading scorer entering Sunday night, hopefully a point has been made.

Juan Ocampo/NHLI

Quietly, Derek Forbort has put together a solid stretch of games after a rough outing in Nashville in which his challenges were compounded by a nasty third period tumble into the boards that made him questionable two nights later against St. Louis. (He played.) Desjardins spoke positively about the entire defensive group, saying, “I thought our D had probably the best game they’ve had in the last three or four.” Doughty certainly falls under that umbrella with his very good 30-minute effort, but Forbort’s two assists and ability to channel plays behind the net and to the perimeter in 24-plus minutes also contributed to the strong all-around team game. He completed a four-game, three-assist, plus-four week by taking three shots on Cam Talbot, and his banked stretch pass along the boards set Anze Kopitar up for the game-winner.

Juan Ocampo/NHLI

–Lead photo via Juan Ocampo/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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