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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Derek Forbort Has Been A Pleasant Surprise For LA Kings

LA Kings defenseman prospect Derek Forbort
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Although he isn’t lighting up the league, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Derek Forbort has exceeded expectations to this point in the 2016-17 National Hockey League season.

The 24-year-old, 6-4, 216-pound native of Duluth, Minnesota has surprised many with one goal and eight assists for nine points, a +4 plus/minus rating and 34 penalty minutes in 28 games this season—numbers not expected from the stay-at-home defenseman who came into the season with low expectations.

Forbort, who was selected by the Kings in the first round (15th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has been seeing more ice time since defenseman Brayden McNabb suffered an upper body injury on October 29 at St. Louis, and so far, he has shown some improvement, even though, as it often happens with young players, he has his share of good and bad moments.

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Dustin Brown’s Improved Play Is About Much More Than Not Wearing The “C”

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

EL SEGUNDO, CA — No, he’s not setting the National Hockey League on fire, nor is he hot enough to melt the ice he’s been skating on. Nevertheless, much maligned forward Dustin Brown has not only been a far better player compared to the one he has been the last few seasons, but he has also been one of the Los Angeles Kings’ best players so far this season.

Through 20 games this season, Brown has scored three goals and has added six assists for nine points. That puts him on pace to score twelve goals and to contribute 25 assists for 37 points.

Last season, Brown ended the regular season with 11 goals and 17 assists, good for 28 points in 82 games.

Although that extrapolation seems to indicate that Brown isn’t showing a tremendous amount of improvement over last season, numbers don’t tell the whole story.

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LA Kings’ Woes Aren’t Just Offensive

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, shown here
during practice at the Toyota Sports Center
in El Segundo, California.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Having to face the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins while riding a three-game losing streak and a goal scoring drought of the same duration is not a position any team wants to be in, but that’s exactly what the struggling Los Angeles Kings have in store for them when they host the Penguins tonight at Staples Center (7:30 PM PDT).

Having been shutout in their last three games is the most obvious problem the Kings are facing.

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LA Kings Brayden McNabb Looks Like An Improved Player

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb, shown here
during practice at the Toyota Sports Center
in El Segundo, California.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Last season, young defenseman Brayden McNabb got off to a somewhat rocky start to his second full season in the National Hockey League. In fact, he was a healthy scratch for the Los Angeles Kings in their season opener against the San Jose Sharks (5-1 loss) due to what head coach Darryl Sutter characterized as a “rough training camp.” The now-25-year-old, 6-4, 212-pound native of Davidson, Saskatchewan didn’t score his first goal that season until December 6, 2015, a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

What a difference a year makes.

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