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

For the first time in the 2013-14 season, the Kings and their opponents played in a playoff-like game that provided a potential glimpse of what a late spring game between Los Angeles and Chicago could look like, lest anyone had forgotten. Often the reaction to an up-and-down, trading chances game in which an animated crowd hangs tightly on a higher scoring, 70-to-75 shot affair is to think “Wow! That was like a playoff game!,” when really, playoff games, especially those played by Los Angeles, are tightly structured, defensive contests in which shots and scores are limited, and goals are scored off the odd mistake like last night. Monday’s game was a fine defensive battle played by a pair of teams operating at a high level, punctuated by several supreme individual defensive performances by Chicago after breakdowns in their own zone. Jeff Carter finds the puck on his stick with some time and space in front of Antti Raanta? There’s Jonathan Toews to tie him up without drawing a penalty. When Anze Kopitar found himself in a similar situation, though perhaps from not quite as head-on of an angle, there was a diving Johnny Oduya to deny him. Kyle Clifford tried to turn a race for a breakaway into an uncontested opportunity before Duncan Keith poked the puck away from him. Several of the Kings’ quality opportunities were denied by excellent defensive efforts by a Blackhawks team that demonstrated it can win a 1-0 game in addition to a 5-3 game.

I loved the Kings’ jump in the first five minutes. Despite the occasional drop-off – I’m looking at you, start of the third period – their cadence was kept up throughout the entirety of the game. It was a fast, physical game between the two teams, and several of the Kings’ bangers were really good against a team that has the ability to exploit opponents with speed. The efforts of Dustin Brown and Matt Greene symbolized the team’s physical charge, while hits by Colin Fraser on Michal Rozsival, Jake Muzzin on Toews, Greene on Bryan Bickell, and a sturdy 22-plus minute effort by Willie Mitchell contributed to one of the team’s better efforts of the 2013-14 season.

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport

Martin Jones was excellent, and I’ve just about grown weary of typing that. Can I change my keyboard’s controls so that by pressing the F5 button Microsoft Word will display that automatically? Coming off a poor performance one week prior in the home loss to Dallas, it was a good sign that the rookie goalie rebounded with one of his finest performances against the league’s deepest offensive outfit. He denied all seven power play shots against a unit that entered the game 16-for-47 with the man advantage in December.

The goal came on a breakdown in which Muzzin got caught up ice and was the third player back in a 2-on-1 that developed between Bickell and Brandon Saad. Greene used a fine effort to disrupt the pass across the slot, but it did appear as though Mike Richards appeared to stickhandle his way out of a high tension situation instead of snap the puck towards the boards. It’s easy to say that from upstairs, though with the speed of the game at ice level, the split second decision was the wrong one. Though Richards has had rough moments in key situations during the first two games of the road trip, that’s mostly an unfortunate coincidence and isn’t representative of any fundamentally unsound aspects creeping into his game. Think larger picture here. Though they didn’t earn two points in this game, we learned more about this L.A. team than we did following a 3-0 win over Edmonton two weeks ago. They may not win tonight’s game in Dallas. Heck, they might not win Thursday’s game in St. Louis. But if a playoff series materializes between Los Angeles and Chicago for the second consecutive year, Kings fans should be feeling more confident than they were heading into last night’s game.


Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport

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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.