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What’s Fueling The Flying Start By LA Kings Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown?

Los Angeles Kings center and captain Anze Kopitar
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net
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EL SEGUNDO, CA — The Los Angeles Kings are only three games into the 2017-18 National Hockey League season, but with Anze Kopitar scoring three goals and adding three assists for six points, with a +6 plus/minus rating in those games, he is already way ahead of the curve.

Indeed, last season, although the entire team struggled, Kopitar scored just twelve goals. He didn’t score his third goal of the 2016-17 season until December 13, 2016, against the Buffalo Sabres (a 6-3 loss), 23 games into the season.

“I’m happy with my start, and the way things are going right now, but not a whole lot has changed,” said Kopitar. “I had a good off-season. I feel good, and there’s definitely one of those [luck] things going, where you see a couple go in, especially [my] second one in San Jose [a 4-1 win on October 7], when it bounces off the guy’s stick and goes in. That makes you feel good, feel the puck a little bit better, and see the ice a little bit better. You just try to ride the wave as long as you can.”

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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
(click above to view larger image)

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 Assistant GM Michael Futa On Alex Iafallo: “He Gives Us Another Swing in the Skill and Speed Area”

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

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Since they signed him as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017, the Los Angeles Kings have been talking up Alex Iafallo, a prospect who could help them in the skill and speed departments.

The 23-year-old, 6-0 (he is closer to 5-10 or 5-11), 185-pound native of Eden, New York, played four seasons with the University of Minnesota, Duluth, leading them to the NCAA’s Frozen Four last season, where the Bulldogs lost in the championship game to Denver University, 3-2, on April 8.

Kings assistant general manager Michael Futa noted that Iafallo was among a select few that the Kings had targeted among college prospects.

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