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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.”

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LA Kings: Toffoli Update; Martinez On The Tough Road Ahead

LA Kings right wing Tyler Toffoli
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — With the 2017 National Hockey League All-Star break behind them, the Los Angeles Kings, with the exception of all-stars Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty, who were given the day off, got back to work at practice on January 30.

Right wing Tyler Toffoli participated in the full practice, without restrictions. Missing was defenseman Matt Greene, who was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to January 20.

Although he said that he is “close” to returning, it appears unlikely that Toffoli will be available for the game at Arizona on January 31. The same goes for the game against Colorado on February 1 at Staples Center.

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

LA Kings Defenseman Drew Doughty
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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 Anze Kopitar Is Finishing Very, Very Fast After A Slow Start

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Although one could easily make a case for Drew Doughty or Jonathan Quick as the biggest reason that the Los Angeles Kings have been one of the very best teams in the Western Conference this season, center Anze Kopitar can put in his own claim as well after putting the team on his back, especially in the last 42 games.

In his first 33 games (through Christmas), Kopitar scored nine goals and tallied eleven assists for twenty points, with a +10 plus/minus rating. But since that time, he has scored 15 goals and has contributed 32 assists for 47 points, with a +21 plus/minus rating.

If you do the math, Kopitar has almost tripled his assists (compared to the first 33 games), and has nearly doubled his points per game average to 1.14 since Christmas (0.61 through the first 33 games).

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LA Kings Are Starting To Look Unstoppable

LA Kings right wing Tyler Toffoli
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — After they melted the ice with a 10-4-0 record in December, the Los Angeles Kings cooled off significantly in January and February, earning a 13-10-2 record over those two months—6-5-1 in January and 7-5-1 in February.

Although the Kings weren’t playing badly, their play during those two months was considerably less consistent in those two months, as their play was up and down in all three zones.

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