Waking up with the Kings: January 13 - LA Kings Insider

In the appropriate response from Thursday’s self-reflective seasonal low-point, the LA Kings cashed in on their chances, received a fortunate judgement or two and banked on quality individual performances from several parties looking to get their games in order in a 5-2 victory that provided good substance to go along with the Saturday night party atmosphere and spectacle. In doing so, Jonathan Quick pulled even alongside his childhood hero Mike Richter for fourth place in wins by an American goalie, a career milestone that will resonate long after his playing days are done. Jeff Carter has been a step off this season but after arriving on the scene a touch late on the Jake Guentzel shorthanded goal roared back to life with a one-goal, three-point performance in which his important first period equalizer allowed Los Angeles to find its game in the second. That’s when the game got away from Pittsburgh a little bit, even if that third goal was the result of an officials verdict deeming a shorthanded Alec Martinez chipped puck over the glass to not have exited the playing surface cleanly. Instead of facing ample five-on-three time against an elite power play converting on better than every one of three chances on the road, they were up two on after a tenacious Carter and Anze Kopitar two-on-one. But, bahh, controversy. Snoop! Star Wars! LA Rams!

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

The LA Kings are really going to be digging in at assessing their upcoming personnel options for much of this month, and that’s going to mean making hard decisions on players who’ve played key roles on this team for the better part of this decade. This evaluation coincides with the best hockey Jake Muzzin has played in his career, and in denying a zone entry with a thunderous hit for the second straight game, continued to use his heavy defensive game to build confidence in so many other areas. He finished with two assists and a plus-three rating to go along with five blocked shots and two hits. Muzzin, who wasn’t on the ice for either Pittsburgh goal, now has three goals, 10 points and a plus-seven rating in 12 games against the team that selected him 141st overall in 2007. “I wasn’t good enough. That’s the God’s honest truth,” Muzzin told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of his Penguins days. He’s a complete NHL defenseman now, and based on what all of us are hearing, will command the largest haul of any realistic trade the Kings make. The defense as a whole has actually played pretty well over the last month, with Drew Doughty’s game rounding into its familiarly excellent form, Derek Forbort and Oscar Fantenberg’s steadied play and Muzzin’s season-long excellence. Alec Martinez’s hardened versatility has also been added back into the lineup, but, you know, there’s that elephant in the room: what will this group look like some six weeks from now?

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

The gluffs came off! It’s good to see younger players like Matt Luff and Austin Wagner add some sizzle and juice and emerge as some intriguing pieces adding some needed speed and energy – and, in Luff’s case, perhaps some regular scoring, maybe? – around an older core. Luff spent five minutes in the box and didn’t see a ton of ice in the third during the Penguins’ push and finished with 7:44 of ice time but did appear to show the work ethic and drive necessary for his game to come out at this level. Willie Desjardins had noted that he wants to play both players but is having trouble finding players to substitute because he’s been fine with individual performances among the role players. “It’s always easy to move guys in your bottom line of the lineup out, but they’re not hurting us. They’re playing pretty well,” he said on Friday. “It makes you look at guys more higher up in the lineup. Hopefully those guys would play hard so they’re not guys you’d have to take out.” Until the trade deadline, there will be younger players moving in and out of the lineup, and potentially even up and down from Ontario. After the deadline, these young players – Luff, Wagner, Sean Walker, Paul LaDue, Michael Amadio, hey, maybe Matt Roy and Kale Clague – will step forward into the Land of Opportunity and really learn about themselves at this level, through good and through bad, with more regular NHL shifts.

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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