In this edition of Los Angeles Kings News & Rumors, I discuss the final game of the team’s 2021-22 season and Dustin Brown’s career. I also review LA’s exit interviews, where the team revealed injuries and offseason plans, and the end of the season for the team’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Ontario Reign.
Kings Eliminated by Oilers in Brown’s Final Game
On Saturday, the Kings lost Game 7 of their first-round series versus the Edmonton Oilers by a final score of 2-0. LA was able to keep the game scoreless through the first period and most of the second period in an energized Rogers Place. With under seven minutes remaining in the second period, though, the Oilers finally broke through with Cody Ceci burying his first of the playoffs.
The Kings weathered the storm, keeping the Oilers to one goal, but with under four minutes remaining, Connor McDavid put the nail in the coffin with his fourth of the series. LA was heavily outshot in the game, with the final count reading 41-29. Jonathan Quick continued to do everything he could to save the season, posting a .951 save percentage (SV%).
Along with the elimination of the Kings came the end of Brown’s career — he announced his retirement after the Kings clinched their playoff spot. The 37-year-old was drafted by the Kings 13th overall at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, and he went on to play 1,296 NHL games, all with LA, scoring 325 goals and 387 assists.
Head coach Todd McLellan commented on Brown’s final game following the Kings’ Game 7 loss: “Yeah, as I mentioned, the hurt in the locker room was deep team-wise, but it was very deep for Brownie. It’s very rare in this sporting world, let alone hockey, that one individual spends that many years, wins championships and finishes the night with his team. Emotions were high for two reasons. One was the team lost and one was Brownie’s last night.”
Considering the expectations going into the season, the Kings should be happy with the outcome and experience gained. They will look to use this valuable experience as the future continues to become the present, but they will have to do so without Brown.
Kings Reveal Injuries, Offseason Plans in Exit Interviews
The Kings experienced a wave of injuries late in the regular season, some of which carried into the playoffs. The team revealed details about injuries in their exit interviews: Drew Doughty sustained a tendon tear in his wrist, Viktor Arvidsson was out due to a herniated disc, Alex Iafallo experienced some shoulder discomfort during the playoffs, Sean Walker recently resumed skating after a torn ACL, and Alex Turcotte suffered a concussion during the AHL Playoffs.
These injuries will continue to be monitored throughout the summer, and there are no players who are already expected to be out at the beginning of next season. In general manager Rob Blake’s interview and McLellan’s interview, they both commented on the direction of the team and what the offseason could hold as far as roster moves.
Blake left things very open-ended in terms of the moves he might make this summer, saying “Whatever you need to improve, there are different ways to do it. Whether it’s prospects, players currently or draft picks/draft capital.” McLellan also avoided commenting on any specifics, but he did comment on the job Blake has done and his trust in him. “I’m not walking into Blakey’s room, pounding the door, saying we need to change all of this. He’s very good at what he does and he’ll give us everything we need.”
John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor recently mentioned three moves he expects the Kings to make this offseason: adding a goal-scoring winger, toughness, and a power play. I agree that these should be the top priorities for LA this summer. The team is in desperate need of a first-line winger, their toughness relied nearly all on Brendan Lemieux, and their power play ranked 27th during the regular season, operating at 16.1 percent, and 13th during the playoffs, converting on 12.5 percent of chances.
If Blake and the rest of the Kings’ management can address these issues over the summer, LA could be a scary team in the Pacific Division next season.
Reign Eliminated From AHL Playoffs
Just one day after the Kings were eliminated from the NHL Playoffs, the Reign wrapped up their season as well. After defeating the San Diego Gulls 2-0 in the first round, Ontario went on to get swept themselves by the Colorado Eagles, 3-0. The Eagles kicked off the series with a frightening 10-1 win before taking Game 2 in overtime 5-4 and Game 3 5-2.
Though it wasn’t the result the Reign were looking for, this season showed a very promising future for the Kings organization. Ontario finished third in the AHL in points percentage, taking 66.9 percent of points available, and they were led by many of the Kings’ top prospects.
Chris Hajt, assistant coach of the Reign, commented on the importance of young players this season: “You can start with Spenny on the back end. He’s someone who earned First Team All-Star honors and played a very important role for us. Once Durzi got called up, he played excellent and he got his opportunity and took advantage of it. [Helge Grans] had a tremendous year for a 19 year-old kid who is mature beyond his years. He’s a kid that has a really good understanding of his game. He’s a very smart young man who has a bright future ahead of him. Up front you think of Tyler Madden coming back from injury. There were a lot of nights where you could say that he was our best forward before he got hurt. That’s just three to name a few.”
As the Kings continue to build their future core, these young players will look to showcase their talents in the AHL, bringing success to Ontario while trying to earn their spot in the NHL at the same time.
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.