Advertisements

Vegas Golden Knights Start LA Kings On Critical Stretch vs. Western Conference

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

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Ever since 1967, when the National Hockey League held their first expansion draft, growing from their Original Six teams to twelve, expansion teams have been forced to select players from each NHL team who were, generally speaking, not very skilled. That meant the expansion teams would struggle for, at least, a few seasons, if not far longer, just to become a winning team, let alone a playoff team or a Stanley Cup contender.

That remained true through 2000, when the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild entered the league. They struggled just to be relevant for years.

Read more of this post

Advertisements

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.”

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

LA Kings Look Inward To Try To Halt Three-Game Skid

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

EL SEGUNDO, CA — After an 11-2-2 start to the season, the Los Angeles Kings have come crashing to Earth, now mired in a three-game losing streak, with each of those losses coming on home ice.

“Crashing” might seem like an exaggeration, given that the Kings remain on top of the Pacific Division. But when you look at how the Kings lost those three games, the term is probably more accurate than not.

  • November 9: 4-2 loss vs. Tampa Bay Lightning. Poor puck management, turnovers and otherwise sloppy led to four Lightning goals scored in just 2:02 during the first period.
  • November 12: 2-1 loss vs. San Jose Sharks. After a strong start and a 1-0 first period lead, poor puck management by the Kings allowed the Sharks to take over the game in the second and third periods.
  • November 14: 3-2 loss vs. Vancouver Canucks. A mirror image of their loss to San Jose, outside of a 2-0 first period lead.

After the loss to the Canucks, the mood was rather somber in the Kings dressing room, especially given the fact that the season isn’t two months old yet.

“We just stopped playing our game,” said defenseman Alec Martinez. “They didn’t.”

“We all know the way we can play,” said left wing Tanner Pearson. “We’ve done it in spurts, and in some games, we’ve done it the whole game. We’ve just got to do it for 60 minutes.”

But are opposing teams doing anything different on the ice, compared to earlier in the season, to counter what the Kings are trying to do?

“It seems that teams are a little more aware of some of the things, offensively, when we get into zone play,” said head coach John Stevens. “Other than that, both teams really have a script on each other going into a hockey game. It comes down to execution and it comes down to competitive spirit.”

“Every team is a little bit different—their schemes are a little bit different,” added Stevens. “But at the end of the day, I don’t think we’ve surprised anyone, and I don’t think anybody has surprised us. It’s a matter of execution.”

The Kings may not be facing huge changes, in terms of tactics teams are employing against them, but they are certainly seeing more highly motivated opponents.

“Before the season, we were the LA Kings who missed the playoffs two out of three years,” said center and team captain Anze Kopitar. “But then, at one point, we were 8-1-1, so you’re not sneaking up on teams anymore. They’re ready for you.”

“Part of it is that, but at the same time, we brought that upon ourselves with good play, so we’ve just got to make sure that we’re ready, to the best of our ability for each and every game,” added Kopitar. “But that’s the grind we talk about, sustaining that for 82 games. It’s impossible, but you’ve got to do the best you can.”

“You’re expecting their ‘A’ game, their best game, whether that’s playing more defensively or forechecking more, it’s really up to their system, I guess. But what we can control is our input, our readiness, and our emotion, going into the game. That’s going to be the goal, going forward.”

As Stevens noted, the Kings must also regain control over execution of their game plan, and most importantly, address their problems with turnovers, their neutral zone and defensive zone play.

“It’s important to go back and [regain] a clear understand of what the plan is, and you still need guys to make plays with the puck,” he said. “[Against Vancouver], we put pucks into areas that made the forecheck easy for them. But I really think, if you look at it, our neutral zone play and our defensive zone play wasn’t up to the standard we’d like it to be.”

“That really affected our ability to forecheck,” he added. “When you spend too much time in your zone in those situations, when you do get a puck, you end up changing [lines] all the time, shift length gets too long, pace drops off, and momentum goes the other way.”

Kopitar also pointed to defensive zone play and puck support.

“It’s both [mental and execution-related],” he said. “When you go into the defensive zone, you just want to get the puck back. There’s some X’s and O’s, but you want to go in and grind it out. After that, it’s having good support around you, so that you can make plays, and we’ve always been good with that. That’s slipped the last few games. We’ve got to get back to the support and the positioning we’ve had before.”

“Where we’ve gotten in trouble—when we [start] running around a little bit—it’s when we try the long, stretch passes to get us out of trouble,” he added. “[But that] usually brings more trouble. [We need better puck support]—being closer to each other, and get out of the zone like that, or coming up the ice like that, rather than being spread out and having to make the perfect pass to get the play going.”

Stevens also indicated that even before his team’s current three-game skid, not everything was coming up roses, despite the hot start.

“We were very honest when we were winning games that there were some really good things, but there were some things that we needed to do a lot better,” he noted. “It’s no different now. Look at [their loss to the Canucks]. We got the great start that we wanted, but we went off track. We kind of got away from our identity, and we let Vancouver grab the momentum of the hockey game.”

“I think it’s important that we get the guys together, we talk about what happened, we identify those areas, and make sure that it’s a clear, honest message to the group.”


Creative Commons License 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.

Frozen Royalty’s Comment Policies