In this edition of Los Angeles Kings News & Rumors, I discuss Viktor Arvidsson’s injury and the team’s poor special teams play which has continued into the playoffs. I also review the Kings’ win in Game 1 — their first playoff win since the first round of 2016.
Arvidsson Out for First Two Playoff Games
Arvidsson did not end the season in the lineup, and, while many assumed he was simply being rested in preparation for Game 1, he has yet to return. The Kings’ second line of Arvidsson, Phillip Danault, and Trevor Moore has been a weapon for the team this season, so not having him in the lineup has been a big loss.
Alex Iafallo has taken Arvidsson’s spot on the second line as the Kings await his return. The line had a great first playoff game, but getting Arvidsson back will bring the lines back to normal, which will be beneficial for the team after taking a big 6-0 defeat in Game 2.
Arvidsson has had an impressive season, recording 20 goals and 29 assists through 66 games with the Kings. He nearly doubled his point production from last season, and it was his most productive season since 2017-18. Hopefully, he will return to the lineup soon, ready to make playoff contributions.
Kings’ Special Teams Continue to Struggle
One of the biggest weaknesses for the Kings all season has been their special teams. They ended the season 27th in the league on the power play, operating at just 16.1 percent, and 22nd in the league on the penalty kill, killing off 76.7 percent of man-advantage opportunities.
Before the playoffs, I discussed the importance of improving special teams, as they will be crucial in the playoffs, but the Kings have continued to struggle. Through the first two games, they have gotten eight power plays, but they were not able to convert on a single one, giving up a shorthanded goal in the process. They’ve also taken eight penalties, and they have only been able to kill off four of them.
After the Kings’ second playoff game, head coach Todd McLellan commented on the power play: “With the power play, we’ll sit down and we’ll look at it. We moved Dubs in there a little bit, we had Lizzo on the ice with Brownie, so there were some things. Our power play is what our power play is. If anybody in this room, or anywhere else, thinks we’re going to reinvent the wheel on the flight home tomorrow, we aren’t. They have to execute and get the job done. If we execute at 16 percent like we did during the year, that might even be good enough, but operating at zero and giving up a goal is unacceptable.”
This quote from McLellan is an honest one; the chances that the Kings can turn around their power play during this series to be one of the better teams in the playoffs is unrealistic. However, getting something out of their opportunities is a necessity. Power-play units might continue to be adjusted until the team finds something that works, and getting Arvidsson back could be a huge difference-maker.
Kings Record First Playoff Win Since 2016
Monday night in Edmonton, the Kings recorded their first playoff win since Game 3 of the first round versus the San Jose Sharks in 2016, putting them up 1-0 in their series versus the Oilers. They jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period, with goals from Moore and Iafallo. In the last minute of play in the period, Connor McDavid took the game into his own hands, scoring arguably the goal of the playoffs thus far.
The start of the second period saw two quick goals, with Kailer Yamamoto tying the game before Brendan Lemieux put the Kings back on top. Leon Draisaitl then recorded a power-play goal to tie the game once again. With just over five minutes left in the game, Sean Durzi let a shot go from the point and Danault deflected the puck, giving the Kings a 4-3 lead which they carried through to the end of the game.
After the Kings’ Game 2 loss, the team will return home for Game 3 and Game 4 in Los Angeles, the first playoff games in LA since the first round of the 2018 Playoffs that saw them get swept by the Vegas Golden Knights. They will look to rediscover their play from Game 1 and take back the lead in the series.
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.