Blake Lizotte has gone from being undrafted to becoming a crucial piece of the Los Angeles Kings’ playoff lineup. The 24-year-old played college hockey with St. Cloud State before being signed as a free agent by LA in 2019. Coming in at just 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, it’s easy to understand why he may have been overlooked at the draft. However, over the past three seasons, he has developed into an incredibly effective player who has played a key role in his team’s first-round series versus the Edmonton Oilers.
Lizotte’s Regular Season
This season, Lizotte reached a career-high in points, recording 10 goals and 14 assists through 70 games. While these totals aren’t bad, his most impressive numbers lie elsewhere. His 56.54 Corsi for percentage (CF%) ranked eighth on the team and sixth for those playing more than eight games. He also put up a respectable 51.61 expected goals for percentage (xGF%), meaning the Kings possessed the puck more with him on the ice and were expected to outscore their opponent with him on the ice as well.
Lizotte’s play showed through in his overall contribution to the team. He recorded 0.071 wins above replacement per 60 rate (WAR/60), which ranked third on the Kings. In other words, he was one of the most important players on the team all season, making the most of his ice time. To be one of the smallest players physically and one of the largest contributors, he has to constantly put in that extra effort on the ice, and when he is out there, it shows. He leans into players to win battles, tries to be the first to every puck no matter how much bigger the opposition is, and never gives up on plays.
This effort didn’t go unnoticed, as he was recently nominated for the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game of hockey. Kings head coach Todd McLellan commented on the nomination: “Great choice…That award is about commitment, drive, resilience, and Lizzo, he lives that every day here at the rink. He lives like it’s his last day in hockey equipment. Whether it’s a game day, practice day, workout day, he shows up, and to find a young man like that, who doesn’t have a long career, but already gets it, is valuable in the room.”
Lizotte stayed very consistent throughout the regular season, helping bring the Kings to the playoffs for the first time since 2018, and he has continued to raise his level of play in the first round.
Lizotte Has Dominated Oilers in First Round
The Kings’ first-round series versus the Oilers is his first playoff experience, yet he has carried over his regular-season play. Through four games, he only has one assist, but his most important contributions have come away from the scoresheet.
Lizotte had a tough Game 1, but since then, his effort and no-quit attitude have been too much for the Oilers to handle. The below table shows just how good he has been:
|Game||CF% (team rank)||xGF% (team rank)|
|Game 2||58.82% (1st)||55.71% (1st)|
|Game 3||78.79% (2nd)||61.7% (1st)|
|Game 4||78.79% (1st)||92.83% (1st)|
Lizotte has clearly been one of the best overall players for the Kings. Even though his game might not be translating onto the scoresheet, his play is generating chances, and he will try to continue to do so with the series now tied at 2-2.
Kings’ Bottom-Six Has Been Impressive
Beyond just Lizotte, players who are typically in the Kings’ bottom-six have played quite well for most of the first round. Dustin Brown, Brendan Lemieux, Carl Grundstrom, Gabriel Vilardi, and Arthur Kaliyev have all had their moments against a tough Oilers team. If LA is able to shock the hockey world and take the series, they will need Lizotte and the rest of the team at their best.
Advanced Stats per Evolving-Hockey
Zackary Weiner is a high school student from New York City who covers the Los Angeles Kings here at The Hockey Writers. He is a lifelong hockey fan and player, and his previous experience includes writing articles about the NHL for various online publications. His articles cover a wide variety of topics that concern the Kings and he takes into account a range of viewpoints, making his articles a perfect read for anyone who wants to stay up to date on the team. Zackary is more than happy to get into a conversation with fellow Kings fans, so feel free to leave a comment below any of his articles like this one to let him know your opinion and what you want to see next. You can also listen to him talk about the team on Fantasy Hockey Life, The Hockey Writers Live, and Blackhawks Banter.