Sweet Viktor-y! Arvidsson thankful upon return to Kings lineup after four months away

Great to see 33 back in action.

It’s been a long road for Viktor Arvidsson to this point. Over the last two years, he’s spent too much time off the ice. Too much time rehabbing injuries. To get back in the lineup yesterday evening, playing just over 15 minutes in a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, was a special moment for Arvidsson.

After Thursday’s game, he was asked about the feeling and the excitement of getting back in the lineup. While there was certainly an answer there, as it clearly meant a lot, Arvidsson first and foremost thanked those who helped him get back to where he is now.

“I just want to start with saying thanks to everybody that’s been helping me and getting me back and my family. It’s been a tough two years, I’ve been out for almost 11 months out of two years, so it’s been it’s been a long way and a long road back. It was really nice to be back out there and feeling the competitiveness and stuff like that and being around the team, on the bench. Thanks to the organization for helping me.”

For Arvidsson, as he alluded to, it’s his second time in two years working his way back from back surgery. When you think about it in the terms he put it in – 11 of 24 months spent rehabbing – that’s an awfully long time. As he worked his way back for the start of the 2022-23 season, Arvidsson spoke candidly about how challenging the process was. He was isolated from the group, with his recovery time coming largely in the offseason, and he was limited even in how he could spend time with his daughter and his family. Would be hard for anybody.

If there was anything that made things a little bit easier on him this time around, it’s that he was able to rehab in Los Angeles, staying integrated with the group during homestands. That certainly helped.

“Being around every time they were home, trying to be with the guys and then hanging out and stuff like that, it was for sure easier not being by yourself and trying to find a way back,” he added. “It helped a lot and like I said, the management, the trainers and everything helped me to get back in and be ready to go.”

Arvidsson praised the work of so many people, ranging from his family to the medical staff who worked with him each and every day throughout his time spent out of the lineup. He added that he has a good line of communication with Head Coach Jim Hiller, from the start, and that’s been something great for him to lean on, staying in the loop and knowing the plan for him as he got closer and closer to a return for a Head Coach who regularly expressed his excitement to have him back.

All in all, there were a lot of sentimental feelings coming into the game. Sentimental is not how Viktor Arvidsson plays the game, though.

From the second the puck dropped, Arvidsson was engaged in the game. He was energetic. He brought a shooting mentality and was aggressive on pucks. In short, Viktor Arvidsson was, well, Viktor Arvidsson.

“That’s how I play, I’ve got to play that way,” he said. “It was a great process, coming back into play, and we got the break, I got to work a lot. The team and the management and everything helped me help me come back ready to go. It felt great to be back.”

In total, Arvidsson logged just shy of 16 minutes. Prior to the game, Head Coach Jim Hiller admitted he didn’t know exactly how much Arvidsson would play in his first game back. Wound up being not quite his full workload over the last two seasons, when he averaged 16:58 and 17:05 respectively, but still a pretty big helping of ice time. His total ice time ranked eighth amongst LA forwards, though he was fifth in 5-on-5 time specifically.

The icetime was naturally a bit of an unknown, as Hiller alluded to before the game.

The style of play, though, is something that Hiller expected.

“He’s competitive, he’s fiery on the ice and on the bench, he’s one of those guys that hates to lose and loves to win,” he said before the game. “You just can’t have enough of them.”

Just one Kings player had more than two shots on goal last night in 5-on-5 situations. That was Arvidsson, who posted a team-high five. In all situations, Arvidsson had nine shot attempts, also a team-leading total. He wasn’t shy to showcase that fiery and competitive edge that Hiller alluded to either, mixing things up with Jack Hughes in the second period, leading to an iconic reaction in the penalty box after the two were penalized.

“He was easy to find wasn’t he,” Hiller added after the game. “He had five shots, led us in shots [on goal] and they were chances, he was dangerous. I saw Arvy, that’s Arvy. He’s competitive, he found his way to the penalty box, and he made that line, I thought, really dangerous. It’s good to have him back.”

Certainly adding to the comfort level was Hiller’s decision to place Arvidsson back in his most familiar home, on a line with Phillip Danault and Trevor Moore. It’s a line that has so much familiarity with each other and has had a lot of success in the past. There were certainly options, with the Kings struggling overall to find offense at 5-on-5, but Arvidsson finding his home there boosted two other lines as well, with other combinations finding some success around him.

“Yeah, for sure that helps,” Arvidsson said. “I’ve been playing with them for my whole stint here in LA and it’s been great. We were finding each other well too, I think we had some great chances. It felt really good.”

As the Kings move along, getting Arvidsson stronger and stronger will only help as they continue to work their way back on track and continue to push towards a playoff spot. When he returned from his original procedure in October of 2022, it took Arvidsson a few weeks of game action to truly feel like himself again, when he broke out with a three-assist performance in Washington in late October. Certainly still the early stages for a player who had missed the entire season until this point, but yesterday’s game already felt substantially further along than Game 1 last year was.

Another test for Arvidsson comes this weekend, with a back-to-back on the road, including tomorrow’s game against the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins. Unclear if his workload at this point in the process includes back-to-backs, but we’ll find out in due time. No need to rush or over-do it with an important player, but as the Kings continue to press for points, a healthy Viktor Arvidsson, playing the way he played last night, is a player they’ll want in their lineup each time he’s available.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

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