Waking up with the Kings: January 22 - LA Kings Insider

There was an interesting story line in the LA Kings’ final performance before an extended break, given Saturday’s blowout loss in Denver and a committed, battle-heavy practice with good focus and pace on Sunday. We’ve all used the term “emotional investment” or some variation so frequently, so forgive us if we approached Saturday’s game with a wisp of curiosity towards where the team’s psyche would be at. (It was asked at a practice whether the team could be “half-checked out” before the hiatus; games heading into breaks can be challenges for good and bad teams alike.) But even though they looked sloppy at times while falling behind, 2-0, their investment in the game was always apparent, and even after they fell behind, deviated little from their original plan. Eventually, mistakes also beset the Blues, who ran into penalty trouble in the second period and had difficulty containing the Kings’ top line, which punctuated a strong afternoon of work by capitalizing on Jake Muzzin stopping Alex Pietrangelo in his tracks at the red line to set up a dangerous and patient Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar two-on-one. There have been a few low-energy practices recently, but Sunday’s up-tempo skate served as the appropriate response to the Colorado game and helped establish a good focus Monday afternoon.

Harry How/Getty Images

Eligible for restricted free agency, Brendan Leipsic is playing himself towards a contract. Reasonably good players can be had off waivers; Matt Nieto was claimed by Colorado two seasons ago, protected in expansion, and repaid the Avs with 15 goals last season. Los Angeles made two waiver claims last month, one of a former first round draft pick, Nikita Scherbak, who has speed and playmaking ability but lacked the definition to put his tools to use, and the other, Leipsic, who also owns a decent degree of skill but with some hardened detail and a firmer constitution to demonstrate it. He’s playing up a line or two and ultimately has the skating ability and willingness to get to hard spots to serve as a plenty viable third or fourth line player beyond this season, so it’s good to see him rank fifth in individual points per 60 minutes of five-on-five play and lead the team in assists per 60. His bang-bang play to Tyler Toffoli capped a sloppy sequence in which Jordan Binnington did not stop the puck behind his net, Leipsic’s pass hopped over Jeff Carter’s stick, and Ivan Barbashev’s outlet deflected off Toffoli’s skate into Leipsic’s oncoming path.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

The Kings showed good resolve in this game, coming from behind by two goals early and shaking off a game-tying Ryan O’Reilly goal midway through the third period. They’ll need that determination to get the appropriate amount of work in over this break, because their first game after 11 full days off will be against a stingy New York Islanders team coming off a home game against the league-leading Lightning the night prior. It’s easy to imagine strange things afoot at Nassau Coliseum that night, given the tendencies for teams to suffer an extra breakdown or two out of breaks, a notion perhaps enhanced by a particularly long absence for a team particularly low in the standings. It will be interesting to see which players play their best hockey coming out of this hiatus.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

Lead photo via Harry How/Getty Images

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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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