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LA Kings Adrian Kempe Needs “A Bit More Purpose Or Dig In His Game” Despite Good Debut

Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Adrian Kempe
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Although his National Hockey League debut came and went without fanfare, Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Adrian Kempe provided glimpses of what he might bring to the Kings some day, despite their 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on February 16 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The 20-year-old, 6-2, 202-pound native of Kramfors, Sweden did not record a point and earned a -1 plus/minus rating in 15:19 of ice time against the Coyotes.

“It was tough, but I think I played all right,” said Kempe, who was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft. “I was a little bit nervous [early], but I think I got into it pretty quick. I just tried to play my game.”

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LA Kings: Dean Lombardi’s Plan For Dustin Brown Appears To Be Working

Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — Last June, when the Los Angeles Kings announced that center Anze Kopitar would replace winger Dustin Brown as captain, Brown was not happy about the change, even though he said that he respected the decision and fully supported Kopitar.

At the time, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi said that one of the reasons for the change was to help Brown get his game back after struggling since the team won the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship.

“The other part that’s critical, and like I told him, when you have a responsibility for 23 guys, he perfectly recognizes that for us to be successful, as a team, he has to get his game back to where he’s capable,” said Lombardi. “[Even though] he hasn’t produced at the level he’s certainly capable [of], I don’t think it’s been his effort. In a lot of cases, it’s that he tries so hard and is so critical of himself. He puts enormous pressure on himself.”

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LA Kings Are Showing Signs Of Shaken Confidence, Frustration, Tension

LA Kings Defenseman Drew Doughty
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — After an embarrassing 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in front of a sell-out crowd of 19,230 fans at Staples Center on Thursday night, one has to wonder if the team unity and strength of character that the Los Angeles Kings have become so well known for since they won the Stanley Cup in 2012 has begun to fray.

Indeed, the frustration and tension seemed palpable as soon as the game ended.

As soon as the final horn sounded, Kings players skated to goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, as they usually do with whomever is in goal. But Zatkoff, who had been victimized by blatant turnovers and blown coverages by Kings skaters on all four Detroit goals, appeared to want to have nothing to do with that. In fact, he skated straight to the bench—quicker than usual—and into the dressing room, appearing to completely ignore his teammates.

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LA Kings Are Gambling On Reunification and Chemistry Against Divisional Rivals

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar, shown here during a recent practice at the
Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California.
{click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — On their recent seven-game road trip, the Los Angeles Kings earned a 3-2-2 record even though they had to shuffle their forward lines after both Dustin Brown and Tyler Toffoli suffered injuries, forcing them out of the lineup.

Brown returned for the final two games of the trip, but Toffoli remains out of the lineup and did not join the team on their Tuesday afternoon flight to Vancouver, where they will play on Wednesday night, followed by a game at Edmonton on Thursday.

Head coach Darryl Sutter said that Toffoli would not even be examined by doctors again “…for at least a week.” As a result, he has reunited center Anze Kopitar with Brown and Marian Gaborik on a forward line.

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LA Kings Are Looking To Exorcise Their Demons From The 2015-16 Season

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar, shown here during an October 2016 practice at the
Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California.
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — With opening night for their 2016-17 National Hockey League season upon them, the Los Angeles Kings would like to exorcise their demons from last season by forgetting all about the way they played down the stretch.

Indeed, the Kings flew through much of the season, leading the Pacific Division for a long, long time. But not only did they blow a 14-point lead in the standings, once they clinched a playoff berth after a win over the Boston Bruins at Staples Center in Los Angeles on March 19, 2016, they went into the tank the rest of the way. In fact, they struggled to a poor 4-6-1 record in the final eleven games of the regular season. To make matters worse, three of those wins came against Pacific Division bottom-dwellers, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, with the fourth win coming against a disinterested Anaheim Ducks team that had already clinched the Pacific Division title.

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