EL SEGUNDO, CA — Don’t look now, but not only has Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Lewis scored a career-high 13 goals in 52 games this season, but…get this…he’s on pace to score 21 goals this season.
But before you get too excited about that possibility, the reality is that as injured forward Jeff Carter gets closer and closer to returning (no, there is nothing new to report on Carter), the chances of Lewis reaching the 20-goal mark grows increasingly remote.
“Sometimes, with guys out, you get a little more opportunity,” said head coach John Stevens. “Jeff has been out all year, and now Adrian [Kempe’s] got, I think, 15 goals now. When we get Jeff back in our lineup, those guys, [Lewis included], will become our secondary scoring. The opportunities on the power play may not be there as often.”
“At the end of the day, your five-on-five game is what’s going to make the difference,” added Stevens. “You’re going to need secondary scoring from those guys to come out on top. You need guys like Lewie and Adrian, and the guys around them, to provide that. It takes the burden off of one line or one pair.”
With those 13 goals this season, Lewis is giving the Kings just what his head coach described, and more.
“Lewy is just a guy who you love everything he does,” Stevens noted. “He’s a very responsible, detail-oriented guy. He was a big scorer at the junior level and put numbers up in the American [Hockey] League, and we think he’s a guy that can provide secondary offense.”
“We put him on the power play because he does a good job at the net, and he recovers a lot of pucks,” Stevens added. “You can’t do anything on the power play unless you have the puck, and we thought that part of his game could really help us.”
“He brings good checking, he creates from the right side of the puck-he’s just one of those guys who allows the team game to create for him, and his skill set allows him to take advantage of some of those opportunities. He’s a glue guy on our hockey team, but he’s also a guy who’s not just a blip on the radar screen. He showed it last year. He got into double-digits in goals, and he’s showed that again this year.”
Lewis indicated that with more opportunities to play in more situations comes added confidence.
“I’ve been getting a little bit of a chance to play on the power play, so that helps,” he said. “I think it’s mostly a confidence thing. Last year, I scored more than I had been before. I always knew that I could. I talked to [John Stevens] during the summer about being able to produce a little bit more, and still doing the other areas of my game, not letting that slip, so I think it’s mostly confidence, and playing with good players. Pucks are going in.”
“Goal scorers will tell you that when pucks are going in, your confidence is higher,” he added. “You don’t grip the stick as much. It’s nice to have some more goals—produce a little bit more. That’s the area of my game where I really needed to step up, and so far, I’ve been doing pretty well.”
Lewis’ last puck to go in came on a shorthanded breakaway on February 3, in a 6-0 rout of the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center.
On the play, Lewis skated down the slot. He faked a wrist shot by quickly opening his stick blade. Coyotes goaltender Scott Wedgewood took the bait, allowing Lewis to easily skate around him and backhand the puck into the open left side of the net—it was a highlight-reel goal.
“He’s had a few of those,” Stevens observed. “He can score. He really sold that shot. He flashed the blade, got the goalie to lock up, a little bit, and then, made his move.”
“Honestly, I just faked the shot, and he bit, so I just took it around him,” said Lewis. “I wasn’t really thinking too much. It just kind of happened.”
“I used to do that in Manchester, a little bit,” added Lewis. “I’ve still got it. I was making sure I still had that move. Seems like I pull a few of those moves out of [his junior hockey days], sometimes.”
Although Lewis has had more opportunities to show off his offensive abilities the last few seasons, most notably, this season, it was not so long ago where offense wasn’t really something he was concerned about. In fact, he had a lot to learn about the defensive side of the puck when he joined the professional ranks.
“I knew I had some things to work on, coming out of the draft, in order to be a pro,” Lewis told Frozen Royalty during an exclusive interview in May 2013. “I knew it was going to be tough, and when I first got here, it was a big learning experience for me, just learning the pro game, to compete, and about the effort you have to put in every night.”
“The jump from junior to pro is a big jump,” Lewis added. “Playing my first year [with the Manchester Monarchs, which was the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate, at the time], I learned that it’s not going to come easy. You really have to work at it. It’s just the little things in the defensive zone, being hard and [strong] on your sticks, stuff like that.”
“It was the compete [level], and how hard it is, every night, how tough it is, and how hard you have to work to be on the right side of pucks, little things like that. [Those were] the big things I needed to take care before I could make it, and all the guys in Manchester, and all the development guys did a good job.”
Looking back, Lewis learned early on that he was not destined to be a top six forward in the NHL. He quickly realized that a strong, two-way game was what was going to make him an NHL player. Despite that, he always knew that he could put the puck in the net.
“I think my first year in Manchester, I tried to play more of a skilled game,” he noted. “But I realized that to come up to the next level, you’ve got to really focus on the little things, and make sure that if you get called up, the coach can put you out there in all situations.”
“In my first year, I realized that maybe I’m not going to be a so-called skilled guy,” he added. “I tried to focus on penalty-killing, and trying to be a defensively reliable forward. I still take a lot of pride in that area. But always, in the back of my mind, I thought I could score more.”
“I’ve always known that I could do it. More of my focus coming up was penalty-killing, and being a defensive guy, being a guy the coach can rely on, and put out there in key situations. I think that helps. Playing in a lot more situations-that helps your confidence. I’m just trying to get to the net more and get those greasy ones, too.”
Greasy or highlight-reel-worthy, the goals Lewis is scoring now come without sacrificing other parts of his game, which is critical—the Kings rely on him for so much, on the penalty-kill, their forecheck, and in the defensive zone.
“He’s got offensive ability,” Stevens observed. “But the one thing you love about Lewie is that he’s never going to sacrifice being a really good 200-foot player.”
“He’s one of those guys that, when you win, he’s usually got something to do with it.”
LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Lewis. Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net.
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