LA Kings are back in first place
Sometimes all we need to do as hockey fans is breathe and relax. After struggling in the first three games of the season, the Los Angeles Kings went on a six-game winning streak, won eight of their last nine games and are tied with the Vancouver Canucks for first place of the Pacific Division standings with 16 points.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “We can’t let it get too in our heads, because we’re playing confident like this. At the same time trying to do all the right things, winning games, we need to continue winning.”
Fans and reporters alike questioned Kings goalie Jonathan Quick after the initial losing streak on whether or not this was the beginning of the decline for the soon to be 30-year-old. Since then, the Kings are currently fourth in the NHL in goals against and ninth in penalty kill.
“We’re taking steps,” Quick said. “Obviously we didn’t get off to a great start in those first few games, but we seem to be taking steps to get better. Win or lose that’s what we try and do, we to try to get better every day. It’s a long season so every time you go out you just try and get two points and you move on.”
While the same guys from both Stanley Cup runs are still there, Tyler Toffoli is continuing to emerge as one of their top players. The 23-year-old is currently leading the team in goals with nine.
“He was early last year, too,” Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said. “Last year at this time,[Jeff] Carter, [Tanner] Pearson, and Toffoli were carrying the offense part of our team so it’s not really new, he’s probably just building on last year. Last year if you remember correctly he went down with mono and he struggled after that. Now he’s healthy and strong and feels good.”
Another interesting develop is they are 2-0 in overtime under the new overtime rules. Recently the NHL has modified the overtime format to 3-on-3 in an effort to curtail shootouts. I personally like shootouts, but Sutter and the Kings like the new overtime format more.
“I do like it,” Sutter said. “Whatever you can do to not get to a shootout is a good idea. We are geniuses at it, because we are 2-0. I know everything about it, and have got it all figured out.”
“We work on two-on-ones and three-on-ones every day in practice,” Doughty said. “As defensemen we take a lot of pride in breaking those kinds of things up. It’s just getting a stick on it and I knew it was a three-on-one so that meant that whole ice was clear up ahead of me and it was easy to find Carter.”
The Kings are hoping their winning vibes can continue. Their 16 points right now are good for a four-way tie for the fourth spot on the Western Conference playoff spot. If we learned from last year, there is no security that comes with that position.
About: Tony Capobianco
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