Waking up with the Kings: January 16 - LA Kings Insider

“If we want to win, we have to be passionate early,” Willie Desjardins said the morning of the LA Kings’ 3-2 shootout loss at Minnesota on Tuesday, and, well, that’s not quite how the opening frame played out. Jason Zucker and Mikko Koivu generated quality looks on the first shift, and by the time 90 seconds had elapsed, Minnesota had accounted for three scoring chances, Los Angeles three dump-ins. That’s not a farfetched, science-fiction fever dream; Minnesota is quite good in its home rink and would be looking to rebound emotionally from their 7-4 defeat in Philadelphia the night prior. They were successful in generating rush chances in the first period. The start, though, was also a point of emphasis for the Kings, and other than some bouts of energy provided by Brendan Leipsic and Alex Iafallo and activations by Oscar Fantenberg and Alec Martinez, there just wasn’t much push at all from the visitors over the first 20-to-40 minutes or so. But this game was tied after one, and then tied after two, even though the run of play tilted the ice nearly to the degree of K2, apart from some ridges and overhangs. The Wild have added some size and brawn to their bottom-six, and that heaviness was apparent in the regularity with which they were able to wedge their way alongside and in front of Jonathan Quick and behind the L.A. defense. But Quick was about as good as he has been in a game this season, and the fact that the Kings gained a point – and would have come away with two, if not for some timely Alex Stalock stops late in the game – was obviously related directly to his performance.

David Berding/Icon Sportswire

Following along the game log and Natural Stat Trick’s summary, Tyler Toffoli and Dion Phaneuf were quite high on the list of players who graded well possession-wise and were on the ice for a disproportionate amount of scoring chances for. Of course, there are the more visible moments of the game that weren’t as kind: Nino Niederreiter plucked a puck from Phaneuf’s feet and skated it towards the top of the left circle, where he nicked Anze Kopitar’s leg and beat Quick to open the scoring, while Toffoli was whistled for an offensive zone high stick for getting too aggressive on a stick lift and also missed the net by some margin while trying to pick a corner on a contested, angled break. But the two combined to be on the ice for seven high-danger scoring chances for, and one against, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick. Phaneuf skated the puck up ice prior to Ilya Kovalchuk’s goal. (This was not a high-speed rush, and Los Angeles cashed in on blown coverage that laid out a welcome mat for Dustin Brown to set up that marker.) Toffoli, just a mystery this season, generated two or three high, high-danger looks late in the game that Stalock fought off to force overtime. (He also had an assist on Kovalchuk’s goal.) Goals are the ultimate evaluating tool for Toffoli. He has seven of them in 47 games, and that’s not nearly enough. But while there are inconsistencies in his game, and though his battle and hustle has waxed and waned, there are still games such as last night’s in which he puts himself in the position to be a difference-maker – and simply has a difficult time finishing off his chances.

Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI

For what it’s worth, the “WHY CAN’T THE KINGS PLAY THE ENTIRE GAME THE WAY THEY PLAYED THE FINAL FIVE MINUTES?” is the new “WHY CAN’T THE WHOLE PLANE BE BUILT OUT OF THE MATERIAL BUILD BLACK BOXES ARE MADE FROM?” I suppose they could play that way, but they’d be hockey’s equivalent of the 1982 Denver Nuggets and would lose most games 11-7. This probably doesn’t need to be explained. Onward!

Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI

–Lead photo via Bruce Kluckhohn/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


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


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.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


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.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


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.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


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.