Advertisements

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

Advertisements

Two Dreams Fulfilled, More To Come For LA Kings C Michael Amadio

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

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Less than three minutes into his game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 2, Los Angeles Kings center prospect Michael Amadio had another dream come true.

The first dream was making it to the National Hockey League. He made his NHL debut on October 26, in one of hockey’s meccas, Montreal.

“I thought Montreal was just a dream come true for my first NHL game,” said the 21-year-old, 6-1, 204-pound native of Sault, Ste. Marie, Ontario. “It was pretty special, with all that rich history there. It was great to be a part of.”

“Going out for warm-ups, and then, my first and second shifts, I was a little nervous,” added Amadio. “After that, I settled down a bit.”

Read more of this post

LA Kings: Is The Adrian Kempe We’re Seeing Now For Real?

Los Angeles Kings forward Adrian Kempe (foreground)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net
(click above to view larger image)

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Although we’re just one month into the 2017-18 National Hockey League season—it’s still early—young forward Adrian Kempe has gone from a player who did not often display good hockey sense, nor did he earn a whole lot of trust from his coaches, especially on the defensive side of the puck.

During the Los Angeles Kings 2017 training camp, on September 28, head coach John Stevens indicated that although Kempe had skill and speed, more was needed from him on defense.

“We got him up here last year, and we liked some of the things he could do,” he said. “We certainly like the skill set and speed he brought to the lineup. We think he can be a responsible player, and he has the ability to play wing and center. We’d like to see his defensive game continue to improve. It’s not that he can’t do it. We just want to see it on a more consistent level.”

Read more of this post

Lest We Forget: Justin Auger Was Solid In His NHL/LA Kings Debut

Los Angeles Kings right wing Justin Auger
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net
(click above to view larger image)

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Last Wednesday, when the Los Angeles Kings handed the Montreal Canadiens a 5-1 loss, the stars of the show were forwards Adrian Kempe, who recorded the first hat trick of his National Hockey League career, and Michael Cammalleri, who scored two goals and added two assists for four points after being a healthy scratch in the team’s previous two outings.

To be sure, Kempe and Cammalleri were surrounded by a throne of reporters after the game, and they were pretty much all reporters asked head coach John Stevens about during his post-game press conference.

Completely lost in the excitement was the fact that yet another young player, right wing Justin Auger, who was selected by the Kings in the fourth round (123rd overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, became the fourth this season to make his NHL debut with the Kings.

Read more of this post

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
(click above to view larger image)

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.”

Read more of this post