3 Takeaways From Kings’ Heavy 6-3 Loss to Golden Knights

After more than a week off, the Los Angeles Kings returned to action with a very poor performance against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Kings went down 5-1 before losing the game 6-3. They were heavily outplayed and looked lost, leading to a tough watch for fans. Here are three takeaways from the game.

Kings Special Teams Struggle

This was another game where the Kings were massively let down by their special teams; the penalty kill finished the game 2-4, while the power play ended 0-4. These poor performances have been a common theme this season, and there has been little sign of improvement. The penalty kill did score a short-handed goal thanks to Trevor Moore, but it was an overall poor performance from the group.

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Besides one opportunity, the team never looked dangerous with the man advantage, generating just six shots in four power plays. They tried to make another small adjustment, moving Anze Kopitar to the top of the umbrella and Drew Doughty to the left half-wall, but this proved ineffective. It did make them more dangerous, but they couldn’t capitalize. The team is still looking for answers, and I wonder why Arthur Kaliyev only got 1:37 of ice time, considering the team’s struggles. The coaching staff’s reluctance to give their best shooter more looks on the power play remains a mystery.

Alex Turcotte Makes His Debut

By far, the biggest headline coming into this game was the Kings’ 2019 fifth-overall pick, Alex Turcotte, making his NHL debut. A bad loss in your first game must be disappointing, but Turcotte can keep his head up after a solid performance. He finished with a minus-1 and two penalty minutes, which is shaky at best, but he was far better than the numbers suggest. Turcotte was good in the faceoff circle, winning 50% of his draws, his line posted impressive possession numbers, and he was very responsible in his own zone. He was given a difficult task in this game, filling in on the second line against one of the league’s hottest teams, and he stepped up.

Alex Turcotte of the U.S. National Development Program
Alex Turcotte Formerly of the U.S. National Development Program (Rena Laverty/USHL)

Despite not registering any points, Turcotte proved he is ready to compete at the NHL level. He will slide down the lineup when Phillip Danault or Quinton Byfield returns, but he should remain on the roster for a while, especially given his ability to play left wing, which gives the team more options. Hopefully, he is reunited with Kaliyev at some point, as they have plenty of chemistry playing together. Maybe we’ll see the Turcotte-Byfield-Kaliyev line that was so successful for the Ontario Reign reunited on the Kings.

Kempe Continues to Score

Adrian Kempe has been an inconsistent goal scorer throughout his career with red-hot streaks followed by long dry spells. This seems to have changed, though, as he has remained a consistent offensive threat through the first 31 games of the season. He grabbed another two points against the Golden Knights and is on pace for 34 goals. Even if he doesn’t break the 30-goal mark, Kempe should have the best season of his young career. The defensive lapses are still there, as we saw on the Vegas’ third goal, but it’s easier to accept these deficiencies when he’s producing at such a high level.

Adrian Kempe Los Angeles Kings
Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He’s putting together a magnificent contract season and has earned himself a raise this summer. Speaking of raises, Alex Iafallo has taken his game to a new level since signing his four-year, $16 million extension last April. His goal Tuesday night brings him to 20 points on the season, good for second on the team. He’s also on pace to have the best season of his career and looks well worth the $4 million a year he’s making. 

Kings Knock the Rust Off as Kopitar Makes History

It was not a fun game for Kings fans, but they can take joy in watching Kopitar climb higher on the franchise’s leader boards. His assist on Kempe’s goal brought his career total to 673 to pass Wayne Gretzky for second-most assists in franchise history. He’s now just 84 assists behind franchise leader Marcel Dionne. It shouldn’t be long before Kopitar catches Dionne and cements his legacy as one of the best Kings of all time.

LA’s next game is on Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks, who have been on a tear since hiring head coach Bruce Boudreau. They’ll be looking to hand the Canucks their first loss under their new coach but will have to be much better than they were against the Golden Knights if they have any hope of winning.

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