Waking up with the Kings: December 9 - LA Kings Insider

After Oscar Lindberg’s scored some four and a half minutes into the game, some may have cracked their lazy blogging knuckles, probably brushing off Cheeto dust before foretelling the inevitable calamity to come while tacking on the note “LAK 1-16-1 when allowing the first goal” as a caboose. But that Lindberg goal came at the end of a hard shift by Adrian Kempe’s line, one in which Marc-Andre Fleury probably deserved a third assist for keeping the puck out during a hard drive towards the net. Two shifts by the Kempe line later, Nikita Scherbak whistled a shot off the rush from distance that snuck between Nate Schmidt’s legs and beat Fleury inside the near post for an important equalizer. The dust settled, a high-energy first period ended tied at one, and the Kings scored the go-ahead goal midway through the second period on a tic-tac-toe power play goal, if I’m reading my notes correctly. That such a crisply executed goal was scored by the second power play unit – their first goal of the season – was also important to note in a game in which Los Angeles scored a power play goal and didn’t allow one for the first time since November 6. From there, they broke the game open and continued to rely on secondary scorers such as a determined Nate Thompson, who scored a late goal and also screened Fleury on a Derek Forbort wristshot from distance that snuck through traffic and a maze of sticks. There wasn’t really a readily available model for this game – the Kings’ second win of the season when allowing the first goal. These teams play three more times through January 1, so it was important to draw first blood against a team that entered Staples Center winners seven of eight.

Harry How/Getty Images

The lineup’s bottom-six-types recorded points on Saturday, though, as noted, the Kempe line, a “third line” with interesting speed and skill was (and has been over the last two weeks) quite good. By virtue of the goals from Scherbak and Thompson, or Brendan Leipsic’s touch-pass assist to Matt Luff or the two points from Michael Amadio, or friggin’ Derek Forbort scoring his first in 11 months, this was the team’s most diverse 60-minute performance of the season. Credit should also go to Jeff Carter, who is battling to regain some of his speed and lower-body strength lost after last season’s ankle surgery, but relied on his acclaimed all-around awareness to score an important insurance goal when he issued a puck towards the crease with Schmidt entering the play and Fleury out of position. The deft pass worked as intended, deflecting off Fleury, then Schmidt’s skate, and then Fleury’s blocker before falling end-over-end into the back of the net for Carter’s second five-on-five goal of the season.

Juan Ocampo/NHLI

Because this is the 2018-19 season, even a win over a divisional rival and the escape from 31st place couldn’t provide a temporary respite from the constant string of casualty. Kyle Clifford has been dialed in in his role while providing one the few positive individual performances of the season, and he was lost for the game and will undergo further tests after taking an elbow to the head in a clear Rule 48 violation on a reckless neutral zone hit by Pierre Edouard-Bellemare. At night, Gabe Vilardi was scratched from Ontario’s game at Tucson and will return to Los Angeles for a Monday examination by team doctors. Both of these developments are very concerning. For Clifford, the concern isn’t over when and where he’ll return and join the team, but rather to what degree another potential brain injury may affect his overall wellbeing, on and off the ice, during and after hockey. As always, this is a nebulous process that isn’t often navigable; it’s frightening that there aren’t always available answers. Here’s to hoping and wishing for the best for a renowned force in the Kings’ family. As for Vilardi, obviously there should be significant concern that there appears to be another barrier in his path towards an NHL career. Hold off on issuing any verdicts until the severity of what he’s dealing with is learned, but because his projected five-game AHL stint did not come off without incident, familiar alarms are sounding.

Harry How/Getty Images

–Lead photo via Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire

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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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