The Los Angeles Kings snapped their six-game losing streak Saturday with an emphatic 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. An offensive explosion for a team that has struggled to score goals all season, this was a much-needed victory for the Kings against a struggling Canadiens team. There were plenty of positives in this game, including a red-hot power play, more impressive performances from the kids, and an improved blueline. Here are three takeaways from the Kings’ victory over the Canadiens.
Kings Powerplay on Fire
Since Drew Doughty’s injury against the Dallas Stars, the team’s power play has looked awful, going 0-9 in the last three games. The team clearly needed to change something up so coach Todd McLellan did exactly that, putting together two new power-play units.
It worked wonders, as the Kings’ blitzed the Canadiens with four goals on the power play. Arthur Kaliyev and Rasmus Kupari both sniped with the man advantage, with Alex Iafallo showing off his soft hands for two goals. Kale Clague did an admirable job replacing Doughty on the first unit, while Matt Roy grabbed two points quarterbacking the second unit. While you shouldn’t expect a team to convert on four power plays every game, it was nice to see the team have success up a man. They might have also found a recipe for success with the man advantage, giving Kaliyev and Kupari space to shoot the puck.
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Kupari & Kaliyev Impressive Again
This is the third straight game I’ve raved about Kupari’s, and the umpteenth time I’ve sung his praise overall, but when he plays like that, it’s hard not to praise him. He grabbed a goal and an assist, but it wasn’t just his production that was impressed. He was solid defensively and dominant in the faceoff circle, going 8-2 in the dot. I had my questions about him as a center, but he’s proving more than capable of playing that position. His 12:58 in time on ice is nearly four minutes more than what he saw against the Winnipeg Jets, and I imagine he’ll see even more ice time as the season progresses.
Kupari’s linemate Kaliyev also had a bright game. Ripping a puck past Jake Allen in the second period for his first of the season. He’s still not a complete player, and has some deficiencies to iron out, but he has one of the most dangerous shots in the league, and it was on display against the Canadiens. He’s continuing to improve in his decision-making, and looks to be gaining confidence. The team might have struck gold in his partnership with Kupari, as the two players complement each other very well.
Kings Defensemen Stepping Up
With two key pieces currently out, there is plenty of concern about how effective the Kings defense can be, especially at producing offense. I still think the team is far from fixing this issue, but it was nice to see the defensemen step up. I already mentioned Roy and Clague’s contribution on the power play, both players looked solid five on five as well. But I was most impressed by the Anderson and Bjornfot pairing.
These two were great against the Jets on Thursday and continued their solid play against the Canadiens. As a pair, they were rock solid five on five, keeping Montreal’s forwards at arm’s length for most of the game. They didn’t have a huge impact offensively, but that isn’t what you expect from these two. Roy was the only defenseman to see more ice time than these two, as they were a go-to pairing for McLellan all game. It’s going to be a tough road ahead for this blueline, but with these two playing stellar, and others chipping in offensively, there’s still hope for them.
A Much Needed Win
This win will be huge for the team’s confidence, not only did they grab two points, they did so in dominating fashion. It was great to see Brendan Lemieux and Lias Andersson back in action as well. My only criticism would be the scratching of Gabe Vilardi, but that’s a conversation for another day. It must also be noted that the Canadiens were awful in this game and made the Kings’ life much easier. Hopefully, we see the Kids continue to have their ice time increased, and the powerplay continues to score. We’ll find out Sunday if this was a case of the Kings turning the corner, or if it was simply capitalizing against a struggling Canadiens team.
My name is Austin Stanovich, as a lifelong player and fan I’m hoping to bring my own unique perspective on the hockey world, specifically covering the Los Angeles Kings. As a SoCal native I grew up a Kings fan, and after graduating from Long Beach State in 2020 I’ve joined The Hockey Writers crew as a columnist for the Kings.