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Taking Stock Of The LA Kings At The Christmas Break

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net
(click above to view larger image)

EL SEGUNDO, CA — The National Hockey League’s Christmas break is always a time to take a long, hard look at a team to see where it has been that season, and where it is likely to go, and not just because the league takes a few days off at that time.

Indeed, by the time we reach December 25, NHL teams have played enough games to get a legitimate, realistic feel for what they’re made of, and the Los Angeles Kings are no exception.

With one game left to play before Christmas (tonight at San Jose), the Kings have played 36 games, earning a 22-10-4 record, good for 48 points, putting them in first place in the Pacific Division, two points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights.

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Speed and Smarts Are Keeping Alex Iafallo On LA Kings Top Line

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

EL SEGUNDO, CA — As his rookie season progresses through its third month, left wing Alex Iafallo continues to make a very solid impression with the Los Angeles Kings, and has, for the most part, remained a fixture on their top line with Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar.

“It’s been awesome, so far,” said Iafallo. “Three months into the the NHL season—it’s pretty cool. I’m loving it, loving every experience I get. I’ve just got to keep working hard.”

“Three months have flown by,” added Iafallo. “Right now, we’re in a tough part of our schedule, playing every other day. I’ve just got to prepare for it, mentally and physically.”

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Torrid Pace Has Helped Anze Kopitar Put LA Kings On His Back

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net
(click above to view larger image)

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Through the Los Angeles Kings’ first 29 games of the 2017-18 season, to say that center Anze Kopitar is on a torrid pace would be understating things by a long shot.

Indeed, Kopitar is so hot that he’s on pace to set new career highs in goals, assists and points.

In 29 games this season, Kopitar, who ranks fifth in the National Hockey League in overall scoring, has scored 15 goals and has contributed 19 assists for 34 points, with a +11 plus/minus rating. Not only are his numbers far cries from those he put up last season through the same number of games, but his goal total already exceeds the 12 goals he scored last season.

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From Slump to Streak: LA Kings Are Winning Again, But Still Need Work

Los Angeles Kings veteran winger Dustin Browni
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net
(click above to view larger image)

EL SEGUNDO, CA — The Los Angeles Kings have returned home in triumphant fashion after earning a perfect 4-0 record on a road swing through Detroit, Washington, St. Louis, and Chicago.

Before that, they defeated the Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center in a shootout on November 25—the Kings will try to extend their winning streak to six games tonight against the Minnesota Wild, the first game of a three-game home stand.

But before winning five straight games, the Kings were mired in a 1-6-1 slump in which they scored just 15 goals while giving up 22.

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A Positive Story, A Poignant Reminder: Brooks Laich

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

EL SEGUNDO, CA — On November 9, forward Brooks Laich earned his first point with the Los Angeles Kings.

Five days later, he would play his last game with them.

Being a healthy scratch four times after that, and with some player personnel changes forthcoming, the writing was on the wall for Laich, who was placed on waivers on November 24. He cleared waivers the next morning, and was, on paper, anyway, assigned to the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League.

The Kings gave Laich the option to play for the Reign, but he chose not to do so, with their blessing.

“I think that option was available,” said Kings head coach John Stevens. “I think in Brooks’ case, he wanted to try and continue to play in the National Hockey League. This is home for him, so I think it was kind of a win-win situation for him and for us, but I think he’s at the point in his career where I do think he has other things that he has a lot of interest in doing.”

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