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LA Kings D Jake Muzzin’s Got Something Good Cooking in The Early Going

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin (right), shown here with forward
Trevor Lewis,during a recent practice session.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Last season, a lot went wrong for the Los Angeles Kings, who failed to make the playoffs, resulting in President/General Manager Dean Lombardi and head coach Darryl Sutter being relieved of their duties last April.

Defenseman Jake Muzzin certainly wasn’t alone among players who struggled last season—there was plenty of that to go around. But his struggles were among the most notable, and his -21 plus/minus rating, the worst on the team, didn’t help his cause.

Much has been made about his commitment this past summer to his strength and conditioning work, along with evaluating his poor season, and looking at what he needed to do, or not do, as the case may be, to improve for this season.

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LA Kings Alex Iafallo: Not Your Typical NHL Debut Story

Los Angeles Kings forward Alex Iafallo
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net
(click above to view larger image)

EL SEGUNDO AND LOS ANGELES, CA — For any hockey writer covering a young player making his National Hockey League debut, chances are astronomical that he or she is secretly hoping that the player in question will, at least, record an assist, if not score a goal, that his team will win, and that his family, especially his parents, were able to be there to witness it all, first-hand. After all, those factors generally make for a better story.

But for Los Angeles Kings rookie forward Alex Iafallo, he didn’t need to figure in the scoring on October 5, when he made his NHL debut against the Philadelphia Flyers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, a 2-0 win for the Kings.

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Kopitar. Stevens Talk Offense, Defense Ahead of LA Kings 2017-18 Season Opener

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net
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EL SEGUNDO, CA — The fact that the Los Angeles Kings averaged 2.85 goals per game in seven pre-season games does not mean very much, given different lineups and the fact that those games don’t count in the standings. That said, that number is a considerable improvement over the Kings 2016-17 numbers—they averaged a meager 2.43 goals per game last season. To be sure, their offense was anemic, and that’s putting it mildly.

But in the 2017-18 pre-season, the Kings emphasis on increased goal scoring and getting pucks and bodies to the front of the opponent’s net has been very much apparent. But even though the number of goals scored per game during the pre-season won’t mean much unless it turns out to be a harbinger of things to come in the regular season, what is significant is that the majority of the goals were scored either because of traffic in front of the net, or because shots came from dangerous areas of the ice, including right around the net.

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Alex Iafallo Seems To Be A Shoo-In To Make LA Kings Opening Night Roster

Los Angeles Kings forward Alex Iafallo
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net
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LOS ANGELES — As reported in this space on September 10, Los Angeles Kings forward Alex Iafallo was a young player who the Kings had their eyes for much of his college career.

“He’s a special kid, and since he signed with us, we’ve felt he was a kid who gives us another swing in the skill and speed area,” said assistant general manager Michael Futa. “He had a great college career, and he presented himself so well to [Director of Amateur Scouting] Mark Yanetti, [amateur scout] Tony Gasperini and [amateur scout] Teddy Belisle throughout [last season]. They were all over us about this being a guy who we had to go after.”

“He was strictly an undrafted kid who had an incredible college career,” added Futa. “He gave himself the opportunity to pick his landing spot. Our crew did an incredible job of just being honest with him about, not only what we do, development-wise, but also the opportunity that’s here for him, with his speed and skill.”

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LA Kings Still Looking For Consistency, Improvement on Defense from Adrian Kempe

Los Angeles Kings forward Adrian Kempe
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net
(click above to view larger image)

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Last season, Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Adrian Kempe had an up-and-down start with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League, both offensively and defensively. But as season wore on, he gradually improved, earning himself a late-season call-up to the Kings.

“I think I started off not as good as I wanted to,” he said. “I played well, but I didn’t produce. I didn’t score the goals that I wanted to. I was getting chances, but I was unlucky, in the beginning. After the first 15-20 games, I started to play better. I put up some points and had good run through Christmas.”

Although he didn’t come in and light the National Hockey League on fire, by any means, the 21-year-old, 6-2, 195-pound native of Kramfors, Sweden was essentially in a 25-game training and development stint with the Kings at the end of last season.

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