LA KINGS ROAD TRIP ROUND UP
The LA Kings collected ten out of 12 points on a stellar six-game road trip as they head into the All-Star break. It will be a hectic end to the season, but for now, let’s take a look at the road trip and some important takeaways.
1/23/2022 @ NJ: Kings 3 Devils 2
1/24/2022 @ NYR: Kings 2 Rangers 3 (SO)
1/27/2022 @ NYI: Kings 3 Islanders 2
1/29/2022 @ PHI: Kings 3 Flyers 4 (OT)
1/30/2022 @ PIT: Kings 4 Penguins 3
2/2/2022 @ DET: Kings 5 Wings 3
Trevor Moore: 7 Points (2-5), 11 shots, +8
Cal Petersen (Starts against NJD, NYI, PIT): 3 Wins, .907 save percentage
NJ/NYR Back to Back
The beginning of the trip was an absolute anxiety attack. Coming off of three straight losses, Kings fans knew a win was needed to right the ship and the silver and grey-clad group delivered.
The Devils came off a 7-4 comeback against Carolina – a real character win – but the Kings worked hard to create chances and control the game. Even though they were scored on first, the Kings didn’t seem too bothered and kept their foot on the gas to get the tying goal. Eventually getting the win in regulation. The Devils exposed major deficiencies in the Kings’ power play which really should be the biggest takeaway for LA.
The next night against the Rangers was a torrid affair. Two very tight-checking teams working on their identity, not allowing much against one another. The Rangers broke the scoring with 1.5 seconds left in the first. The goal was – you guessed it – another power play goal against. The Kings responded well to the pressure and pushed hard to come out with the win but the Rangers were just a little much. As a team in the upper echelon of the league standings, this was a great test for LA to see if they are ready for the playoffs. As a note, Jonathan Quick was outstanding in the game.
PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: Alex Iafallo.
He was spectacular in both games, from his snipe against Gillies in New Jersey to really forcing Shesterkin into biting on his move, Iafallo’s two goals and his 38 minutes on the ice win him the prize for Player of the Weekend. Iafallo has spent the better part of the last two years proving the doubters wrong and the 2021-22 season is no different.
NYI and PHIA
Two very different days for the LA Kings. The Kings and Islanders played a tight game in the first, and LA once again controlled chances on goal. With just over three minutes left in the period, fans were rewarded with something they have been waiting for since the summer of 2020. Quinton Byfield rifled a shot past Semyon Varlamov and officially scored his first career goal. As the fruits of the rebuild celebrated on the ice, the Kings began to let out their character heading into the intermission.
LA continued to suppress the Islanders at the blue line and cut off zone entries as they have throughout the season, even though Adam Pelech rang the crossbar to a “yo ding dong” from the Islanders commentary team. Petersen yet again looked fantastic between the pipes. The Kings held the lead – adding to it in the second to pull out the win and go 2-0-1 on the trip. Next was a trip to the “City of Brotherly Love”.
The Kings headed out for Philadelphia and ended up playing rather a rather even game, statistically. Coming into the tilt, the Flyers had been floating on a 13 game winless streak, and there were talks they wouldn’t allow themselves to lose 14 straight. They were a team on a mission, making the most of Quinton Byfield hustling to back check to open the scoring less than ten minutes in. Jonathan Quick seemed to be out of it throughout this game, overplaying the puck a little bit and seeming like he wasn’t always ready for oncoming chances. The Kings also made the grave error of allowing a chase down the ice for Atkinson’s second goal (short-handed no less) of the night. The Kings eventually lost the game in overtime after making a great case for deserving the W.
PLAYER OF THE SERIES
It just has to go to Quinton Byfield. He did it. To see him score and use it as a way to prove that this is it for him.
PIT and DET
After defeating the Penguins once in Los Angeles (hat tip to Jeff Carter), the LA Kings went into PPG Paints 2-0-2 on their roadtrip. The first period was an even affair, with the Kings taking two more shots than the Penguins and both teams taking one penalty. Iafallo opened the scoring just a minute and seventeen seconds into the second, and the game took off from there. A four-goal second period and a three-goal third period left the Kings with a 4-3 win and a 50% win mark on the roadtrip. The Thousand Oaks native Trevor Moore potted two very good goals, furthering the statistical strength of the Kings second line and proving further that he is not going anywhere.
The Detroit game was a fiery and pest-like affair with the Red Wings coming up with the game-opening goal. However, their lead would evaporate as the Moore-Arvidsson-Danault line (dubbed MAD by this writer) would explode. Danault captured two goals while Moore and Arvidsson both came out with two points. The road trip was officially punctuated by a dominant win over the Red Wings and the best six-game road trip in franchise history.
PLAYER OF THE SERIES
It’s the MAD line, without question. The whole line was a +6 over the two games, Trevor Moore collected two goals and two assists over the two games and the three of them just flew all over the ice. This is a chemistry-built line that is naturally getting better and better. The only way is up.
Where does this leave the LA Kings? Well, it leaves them in second in the division with 55 points headed into the All-Star Break. It also leaves them in serious need of scoring. Heading into the game against Detroit, the highest expected Goals-per 60 minutes played was shared between Victor Arvidsson and Trevor Moore. That total? 1.04xGF/60. Now, this isn’t awful, but there are only two of them. This needs to change so that the Kings can start working on a stronger offensive play and stop winning one-goal games.
The LA Kings’ blueline, however, is suppressing shots. Who might it be dominating in “on-ice shot attempts against per 60”, you ask? I answer you with: Sean Durzi. What a monster, keeping the attempt average over 5 games at FIFTEEN. Just a great bit of news for the player who was really kind of the afterthought in the Jake Muzzin trade three years ago.
The team is also scoring quite a bit. They hit the twine 19 times in the six games, averaging about three a game. When Todd McLellan took over, he said specifically that he felt the team could win quite a few games if they could score three a night. I think he may have been right.
The Kings are buzzing and this road trip was a major milestone for a strong team. LA isn’t in action again until February 15thso let’s rest up for a long end of the season.