If you wanted some Moore, you’ve certainly got some Moore.
What a start to the season it’s been for Kings forward Trevor Moore, with last night’s three-point effort an exclamation point on the way he’s played in the first three games of the 2023-24 season, his first season of a five-year contract.
2022-23 was tough for Moore, no doubt about it. Injuries took away the bulk of the second half of his season and it really wasn’t until the playoffs that we saw Moore start to look like himself. After an uneven finish to the season, Moore entered the offseason healthy, but with big expectations heading into a new season, his first on a long-term deal with the Kings.
Fast forward to the first exhibition game of the year, down under in Melbourne, Australia, and there was no question about it. Trevor Moore looked a lot like Trevor Moore, in the words of Todd McLellan.
“Those exact words were just said in the coaches room – Trevor looked like Trevor did before his injury last year.”
Through three games, Moore sits atop the Kings scoring chart with three goals and four points. Were it not for a pair of shots that have hit the post in the first nine periods of action, we could be talking about a player among the league leader in goals here in the first week of the season.
When a player starts the season hot, you always want to look to the supporting metrics to see if they back up the totals, or if we’re talking about an 80-percent shooting clip that indicates a start that is naturally bound to cool off.
For Moore, he’s always been a volume shooter, on a line that emphasizes volume shooting. The chances created were never in question for Moore, but the finishing didn’t always match the attempts. Through three games, Moore ranks 13th in the NHL in 5-on-5 shot attempts per/60, among the 375 skaters who have played in at least 30 minutes at 5-on-5. On the Kings, Moore trails only Alex Laferriere in shot attempts and shots on goal over the first nine periods of action.
What’s been even……more……impressive is that the California native has scored three goals in three different ways. His first goal of the season came on the power play, as he found a soft pocket in the slot and used a quick release to open his account for the season.
Last night in Winnipeg, Moore’s first goal was an example of an “ugly” goal, if you will. It was actually a very nice play, but came from good work along the boards from both Moore and his linemates, culminating in Moore creating space for his teammates, flying into the slot and burying the centering feed from Phillip Danault. Danault’s goal later in the game had similar tendencies.
“Phil and Trev, after that first period, it really looked like they got their legs going,” McLellan said last night. “Even the last power play goal they scored, it was an ugly scramble on the goal, there was no set play or anything off of it. Those individuals, at least two of them, Arthur’s a shooter, but [Moore and Danault] are muckers and grinders. They got rewarded for it.”
Now, Moore’s second goal and third point of the evening was a heck of a shot. No mucking or grinding involved, and Moore does have that in his game.
We saw it on display more regularly two seasons ago than last year, but nonetheless Moore is a player who gets pucks off his stick quickly, making reaction time less for goaltenders. Whether it’s the work he put in during the offseason, or perhaps just an added bit of dad strength, we’re seeing a strong showing early in the season.
“I wanted to score more goals, I think everyone wants to score more goals,” Moore said. “I worked on it and I changed a few things with my stick, stuff like that.”
Regardless of what the change was, Moore’s teammates have taken notice.
Pierre-Luc Dubois has only been on Moore’s team for around a month, but he remembered Moore as an opponent, noting with a laugh that they “got into it” a little bit last season. Two competitors, not all that surprising, but funny to look back on. When asked about Moore last night, Dubois said he didn’t know exactly how well Moore can shoot the puck. Three games in and he certainly knows now.
“He’s got a better shot than I expected,” Dubois admitted. “We were laughing, because the last time we played each other, we went at it a bit, so I said I kind of regret it now. He’s a great player. He can do everything on the ice and him and Phil complement each other really well. He kills [penalties], plays power play, he has a good shot, he skates……he’s having a really good start to the season and I’m sure he can keep it going.”
🗣 TREVORRRRR MOOOOOORE pic.twitter.com/FGvEwnr69t
— LA Kings (@LAKings) October 18, 2023
Though Moore has impacted the scoresheet early this season, when he’s at his best, he’s impacting the game in numerous ways. So far this fall, he’s doing that on top of the points.
Against Carolina on Saturday, he drew three penalties against the Hurricanes, all coming from a player who keeps his feet moving at all times. Moore referred to that as a mentality for his line, playing with pace and making life difficult on whoever is lined up against them.
“I hope that myself and our line are playing quick, and tough for the other team to handle,” he said. “If they’re taking penalties, then it probably means we’re doing what we want to do.”
For McLellan and the coaching staff, it’s always about more than just the end product. In this case, the penalties drawn are a great thing, but it’s about the things that Moore does well that leads to drawing penalties.
“Those things are happening, but when I evaluate Trev, I think he’s on his game when he’s escaping,” McLellan said. “He’s rolling out of the corner, he’s got the puck and that’s where he draws penalties, because he’s so quick. He’s very good at it, it’s a skill he’s learned somewhere that I hope it rubs off on other players.”
You know the “escape” he’s talking about when you see it.
Fast feet, twitchy body movements, full control of the puck with the ability to move quickly from side to side, which allows him to evade pressure and shake opponents. It’s just a patented Trevor Moore kind of play and it’s pretty obvious when it happens in the game.
When Moore is at his best, it’s a move he does regularly. And, when he’s doing those sorts of things well, when he’s putting the puck past goaltenders, when he’s setting up teammates – the way he did for Arthur Kaliyev last night – when he’s killing penalties effectively (leading the NHL in xGF on the penalty kill, btw)……he’s an effective player.
In Dubois’ eyes, he’s the type of player you win with.
“If you look at teams that go deep in the playoffs and make a run, players like him are extremely valuable.”
Valuable indeed. Here’s to hoping it continues.