EL SEGUNDO, CA — After playing 21 games in their 2022-23 National Hockey League season, the Los Angeles Kings’ most productive line is not their top line of Anze Kopitar, Adrian Kempe, and Kevin Fiala, as originally planned.
Although moving Gabe Vilardi onto that line to replace Fiala has generated some success, that line is still not the Kings’ most productive.
In fact, what might come as a surprise to some, their most productive line this season, and even going back to much of last season, has been the line with Trevor Moore on left wing, Philip Danault at center, and Viktor Arvidsson on right wing.
“We’ve played well the whole time we’ve been together,” said Arvidsson. “I don’t see any difference from last year. We had a bit of a slow start. I suffered an injury and came down with an illness at the start of the season, so I missed two games. After that, we’ve excelled. We still have a little bit more [to contribute], but it feels good right now.”
Head coach Todd McLellan discussed the evolution of that line.
“It took Philip Danault and the coaches some time to appreciate each other, so that took a little while,” he noted. But once he settled in, everything went well there. With Arvidsson, we had a pretty good idea, so that wasn’t tough. With Trevor Moore, he was the individual who didn’t have a home. and [the coaching staff was] responsible for that. We moved him all over the place, left, right, center, up and down the lineup. But when he found a home they created an identity, and they’ve played towards it ever since.”
“As much as we’ve tinkered and moved players around, the constant is that line,” he added. “Now it’ll probably come apart at some point, just to refresh things. Hopefully, it doesn’t, but it might. That happens to every really good line. But right now, we like what they’re doing.”
McLellan went on to say that Arvidsson, who currently ranks second on the team in assists (11) and fifth in points (14), “completes” that line.
“His drive and compete level is at the top.” said McLellan. “He wants to win, he’s emotional, and he completes that line, I think, a lot of times. There’s no such thing as a perfect player, but he does a lot of things well for that group.”
Arvidsson, who was acquired by the Kings last season in a trade with the Nashville Predators, has been less noticeable than his linemates, primarily because of their own performances since last season, but also because Arvidsson took some time to adjust to his new team and he suffered an injury last season, forcing him to miss the playoff series against the Edmonton Oilers.
That injury forced Arvidsson to forego working out this past summer, and to miss training camp in September. That, along with an illness, contributed to him getting off to a bit of a slow start once he returned to the lineup after sitting out two games to start the season.
Arvidsson indicated that he is still feeling the effects of having to play catch-up.
“I couldn’t work out all summer,” he said. “That’s not usually what I do. I work out a lot, and I wasn’t able to do that, so I’m still missing a bit. But it’s hard, because of the tight schedule we have—we’ve already played 21 games in a month, so it’s hard.”
“I still have a little bit more to give, [in terms of his] conditioning, power and strength,” he added. “I don’t feel like I’m there yet, where I want to be. I feel good—confident on the ice. I just feel like I need to get the engine going a little bit more.”
Arvidsson noted that the change of scenery from Nashville has worked wonders for him.
“With the coaching change in Nashville, I kind of got stuck in a box, and I came off of an injury that year,” he said. “But when I came here, they believed in me, I got a lot of ice time, and I’ve played with some great players here. On top of that, I wasn’t able to do that in Nashville, at the end [of his time there]. I really feel like I’ve been able to play my game here, and contribute to the team the way that I feel like I can.”
“No one wants to leave a team,” he added. “Nashville was our home—my family’s home for seven years. It was nice there. We loved it there. But at the end, it wasn’t good. I feel fortunate to be here, competing on a great team.”
Perhaps the most noticeable aspects of the Moore-Danault-Arvidsson line is their solid forechecking and their ability to create offense from it, not to mention their tenacity all over the ice.
“We’re tenacious and competitive in the offensive zone, the defensive zone—everywhere on the ice,” said Arvidsson. “We come up with [loose] pucks. We like to play with puck.”
But what might come as a surprise is that fact that, despite the success of his line, Arvidsson, who has an established reputation as a goal scorer rather than being more of a playmaker, has scored just three goal this season. Nevertheless, what his line is doing sure is working, with Arvidsson dishing the puck very effectively.
“Usually, if you’re the primary assist guy, you have really good vision and anticipation skills, which Viktor has, and you’re just finishing something off,” said McLellan. “You’re getting it to the guy to finish it. Or you’re a puck hound, and you’re grabbing stuff in and around the net or in the corners—the garbage—and you make a play off of that. I think Viktor Arvidsson does the first really well, but the second one is in his wheelhouse. I think he’s a retriever. A puck hound, cleaning up messes around the net, and then making plays out of that, so he [contributes] both ways.”
“I would imagine that, if you asked him, he’d [say that] he would like to finish a little bit more,” added McLellan. “I think he’s got one even strength goal in the 21 games. But when you miss a full summer of training and a full training camp, and you try to play catch-up, your timing is off, or whatever it might be. It’s not got lack of effort or lack of opportunity. He does a really good job of completing that line.”
LEAD PHOTO: Viktor Arvidsson (center) during a game against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on October 17, 2022. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Kings.
Frozen Royalty by Gann Matsuda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Frozen Royalty – Licensing and Copyright Information.