In this edition of Los Angeles Kings News & Rumors, I discuss Drew Doughty’s 1000th NHL game and Quinton Byfield’s first NHL goal and shootout goal. I also take a look at the impressive play of the team’s fourth line.
Doughty Plays 1000th NHL Game
Last night, Doughty played his 1000th NHL game versus the New York Islanders. The Kings won the game 3-2, and he picked up an assist. Drafted second overall by the Kings in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, he has played all 1000 games with LA. He won the 2016 James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s top defenseman and helped the team win two Stanley Cups, one in 2012 and the other in 2014.
Over the past few seasons, the Kings’ franchise defenseman has faced criticism as his play began to decline. However, Doughty stood behind his play, pushed on, and has shown this season that he is still the player he once was. Through 25 games this season, he has been at a nearly point-per-game pace, putting up four goals and 18 assists.
Doughty’s 61.6 Corsi for percentage (CF%) has been good for first on the team, and his 57.61 expected goals for percentage (xGF%) is fourth on the team, second for those that have played more than seven games. This means that the team has been expected to possess the puck more than their opponents and outscore their opponents by a noticeable margin with him on the ice.
Shown below is Doughty’s regularized adjusted plus/minus (RAPM) chart, showing just how good he has been on both sides of the puck.
Doughty’s impressive play this season comes through in his overall impact; he has posted 0.9 wins above replacement (WAR) so far this season, fourth on the team — WAR refers to the number of wins a player contributes to their team above that of a replacement-level player. Doughty will look to continue to keep up this contribution as he surpasses the 1,000-game milestone.
Byfield Scores First NHL Goal and Shootout Goal
Monday night against the New York Rangers, Byfield scored a goal for the first time in his NHL career, albeit in a shootout. Despite taking the lead in the shootout twice, the Rangers matched both times, ultimately winning the game 3-2.
The game was Byfield’s third of the season — he missed the beginning of the campaign due to an injury he sustained prior to the start of the season. The contest was his best of the three, showing a 78.57 CF% — fourth on the team — and a 76.85 xGF% — also fourth on the team.
Just a few nights later against the New York Islanders, Byfield scored his first official NHL goal. He has gotten on the scoresheet multiple times this week, and the second-overall pick from 2020 will look to continue to keep up this offense.
Lizotte, Fourth Line Continues to Impress
The Kings’ fourth line of Brendan Lemieux, Blake Lizotte, and Arthur Kaliyev has been stellar this season. The line perfectly balances the grit of Lemieux, the energy of Lizotte, and the skill and shot of Kaliyev. Not only has this line combination played the most minutes of any line this season, but they’ve played their minutes well. Over the course of the season thus far, the trio has put up a 57.83 CF% and a 55.06 xGF%.
Monday night against the Rangers, they continued to show why they should stick together as a unit. Lemieux recorded the Kings’ top CF% and xGF% for the night — 83.33% and 83.08%, respectively — Lizotte tallied a goal, and Kaliyev came in right under Lemieux with the team’s second-best CF% and xGF% of the night — 82.35% and 82%, respectively.
While the entire line played great, head coach Todd McLellan commented specifically on Lizotte’s game, saying “I thought that Lizzo was outstanding, and he has been basically all season. He’s getting rewarded more and more with offense, he drives a line regardless of who he plays with, gives us some good penalty killing, he was rewarded with some ice time in overtime tonight. Smart play, he used the defenseman as a screen, a little bit of a hesitation move, and a good shot. He had to beat a good goaltender, so he used what he could and he put it in.”
As the postseason gets closer, having contributions from up and down the lineup will be crucial, and Lizotte and the rest of the fourth line will look to continue to provide value.
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 and The Hockey Writers Live.