Waking up with the Kings: March 31 - LA Kings Insider

With Anze Kopitar playing his 999th game and Patrick Kane his 899th, the aging Kings-Blackhawks rivalry, now five years since the teams last met in the playoffs, showcased a good mix of familiar actors and fresh faces and ended in the completion of a three-game series sweep, the first by Los Angeles in two decades. And there was a familiar script, but the good one: Jack Campbell plays well; Austin Wagner scores; young players provide intrigue despite limited minutes. While Patrick Kane took eight shots on goal and seemed to threaten and create rebounds from anywhere in the offensive zone, as usual, there were also heads-up strikes by those yet to make a mark on the rivalry in Alex DeBrincat and Erik Gustafsson. There were similar stories for the Kings. Michael Amadio netted an important late goal and Kurtis MacDermid continued to give Willie Desjardins a reason to keep him in the lineup, and yet this game was still as good as any at painting a picture of Drew Doughty’s impact at both ends of the ice. While some of his minutes have been reduced late in the season – entering Saturday, Doughty had finished with fewer minutes than his seasonal average in 10 of 12 games – he was used heavily against the Blackhawks and fared well in much of his ice time against the DeBrincat-Anisimov-Saad line. His partner Derek Forbort was also effective with his stick, particularly while cutting down passing lanes on the power play.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

To repeat a point made in one out of every three previous WUWTKs, Austin Wagner was not expected to have this kind of a season. By recording his 12th goal and 20th point in his 58th game, he continued to hammer home the most unsung and unexpected performance of the season – and he did so with flair and confidence. Matt Roy created a turnover and quickly fed Jeff Carter, whose backhanded touch to Wagner allowed the forward to turn on the jets and blow past Carl Dahlstrom before snapping a puck over the shoulder of Corey Crawford on a breakaway. It was noted yesterday that he’s added the ability to score goals from close range, but that’s still more of the pure speed goal he’d built a career out of scoring in junior hockey, and the emphatic finish came as a result of encouragement by Dave Lowry and the coaching staff to shoot rather than deke, according to Desjardins. Whether the coaching staff of the development staff, it’s clear that this is a player who has taken well to instruction this season. “When he first got here, he was kind of a fill-up. He’s a guy we expected to come in and play two or three games,” Desjardins said Sunday. “He wasn’t expected to stick around, in my mind. He was expected just to kind of come in because his history didn’t show that. It didn’t show that he was an unbelievable junior, it didn’t show that he was an unbelievable American Hockey League player. Like, it showed he was good but not unbelievable like you’d think you need at the next level, and he’s just come in and done that.” And good for him. There’s no talk about needing to play with certain people or on certain lines that can bring out the best of his best ability – and Wagner does not project as a top-six player – but rather a player who simply has gone out and scored goals. It’s important to have depth speed and scoring threats with the rise in pace and skill across the league, and Wagner’s providing that.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

And lo, one week remained in the 2018-19 season. Clearly Ottawa’s (err, Colorado’s) to lose, the best lottery chances could be wrapped up as early as Monday but will likely wait until later in the week. New Jersey has come on strong of late, which should push L.A. fans into rooting for the Devils over the visiting Rangers on Monday night. From there, New Jersey travels to Carolina and Florida to play its final two games and is tied for the fewest road wins in the league. All other teams in the mix for top odds have four games remaining, including Los Angeles, which will split its games into bookends of back-to-back sets.

Detroit (70 points): vs Boston, vs Pittsburgh, at Pittsburgh, vs Buffalo
New Jersey (68 points): vs New York Rangers, at Carolina, at Florida
Los Angeles (67 points): vs Calgary, at Arizona, at Anaheim, vs Vegas
Ottawa (62 points): vs Tampa Bay, at New York Rangers, at Buffalo, vs Columbus

Back-to-Backs: LAK vsCGY/@ARI; LAK @ANA/vsVGK; OTT @NYR/@BUF

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

— Lead photo via Adam Pantozzi/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.