Waking up with the Kings: October 10 - LA Kings Insider

From miles away it was easy to see that the LA Kings would be challenged to avoid an emotional letdown 24 hours after their headline-generating victory over Calgary and in their opponent’s home opener. But there shouldn’t be mercurial drive and attention to detail only three games into the season, and they’ve got to find ways to fight through difficult starts and avoid the structural collapses that defined a third period in which they only trailed by two with 13 minutes to play. The reality and the state of the team is that there will be some real trial by fire in which a handful of players without 100 games of NHL experience have an opportunity to earn real minutes in a variety of situations, not all of which will come with protective kid gloves. Wednesday’s 8-2 loss to Vancouver was on the entire team, all ages, all shapes, all sizes, all positions. Todd McLellan described the Canucks as a “workmanlike” team, especially up front with the likes of Brandon Sutter, Bo Horvat and Jay Beagle. It might be the younger, skilled players drawing much of the deserved recognition, but the types of identity players in the opposing room McLellan referenced had a major impact as J.T. Miller (1-3=4), Tanner Pearson (0-2=2) and Sutter (2-1=3) notched three of their team’s four multi-point efforts largely by winning battles, remaining strong on the puck and driving the net. That was enough for a very good Jacob Markstrom, who kept the Kings off the board during an excellent first period in which he withstood a four-shot power play blitz. McLellan praised the Canucks’ forechecking ability as well, saying “you have to earn two or three and be good defensively,” a blueprint towards victory that eluded the team.

Ben Nelms/Getty Images

The defense is thin, and from a layman’s goaltending outlook, it seems either that or some other extraneous factor is gnawing at or somehow affecting Jonathan Quick, who wasn’t at all on top of his game as the third period elapsed and fell to 5-12-4 with an .851 save percentage since the game at Carolina last February. There’s another Catch-22 here because Quick has three seasons remaining on his contract after this season with a $5.8-million cap hit (though only a total of $9M actually owed), and the best way for a goalie to recapture his game is to keep getting thrown out there. There’s a stiff challenge ahead, with a weekend back-to-back kicking off a five-game homestand against teams that enter today 12-3-2 on the season. It’s paramount that Quick recaptures a significant semblance of his old form. He looked very good as the preseason progressed, but it’s important in both a short and longer-term outlook that he make strides this month towards reversing his recent run of play.

Jeff Vinnick/NHLI

McLellan shared after Tuesday’s game in Calgary that he’d challenged Ilya Kovalchuk, Adrian Kempe and Jeff Carter after the Edmonton game, and when presented with extra ice time against the Flames, “they took advantage of it.” One night later, Kovalchuk was 5/15 (CF/CA), Kempe 5/16 and Carter 5/18 as they all were on the ice for no goals for and three against, including both goals that followed Los Angeles’ markers. On the other side of the coin, and while all players had a hand in the poor performance, a number of familiar faces worked in the offensive zone and created opportunity; the Amadio and Lizotte lines both graded well territorially, with Lizotte showing the ability to carry his energy over in his first NHL back-to-back. The Hutton-Walker pairing might not have been as good as the 5×5 shot attempts indicated (Hutton: 24/10; Walker: 31/10), but Sean Walker scored, took four shots on goal, blocked two shots and was a +2 over 17:57 of a six-goal loss. There’s the sink-or-swim discussion, and of the younger, less-experienced players, he’s shown a good aptitude to raise the level of his game without the puck while also relying on his modern, up-tempo, puck-moving smarts. After a fluky goal in Calgary, he picked a corner in Vancouver and in three games has been on the ice for 43 shots for and only 12 against over 53:01 of five-on-five time.

Jeff Vinnick/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

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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