The LA Kings rookies shine in their Rookie Faceoff debut.
It was an impressive showing for the LA Kings rookies in their first game of the Arizona Rookie Faceoff. They defeated the Colorado Avalanche group of prospects 4-0 at the Ice Den in Scottsdale.
My three stars of the game:
- Sean Durzi
- Aidan Dudas
- Matt Villalta
Here are five takeaways from their game one victory.
1. Captain Durzi
Sean Durzi was clearly the best player on the ice for either side. He was noticeable offensively and defensively throughout the entire game.
Head Coach John Wroblewski had some high praise for Durzi as well. “He was tremendous — The game looked simple and easy for him today. It felt like the puck was on his stick the whole game. I loved that he defended our net. Newhook went hard to the paint and kind of gave Villalta a shot — but Durzi wasn’t going to stand for it. — I thought that was awesome by Durz.”
Durzi has the most pro games under his belt with this young group of LA prospects, and that experience was on full display today. He was all over the ice, and like Coach Wrobo mentioned, he even displayed a little bit of toughness defending his keeper.
I was a bit surprised to see Martin Chromiak on the top line with Quinton Byfield and Arthur Kaliyev, but he fit right in. The trio combined for a total of six points during the game, with Chromiak opening the scoring on a nice passing play between the three and Byfield notching a tally of his own in the second frame.
Chromiak’s game has been speed, and his shot and speed were illustrated on the Quinton Byfield goal. He dumped the puck in along the boards, followed up the play causing a turnover from the Avalanche netminder, fed the puck to Byfield in the slot, who put it home.
— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) September 17, 2021
3. Matt Villalta
It must be difficult to find out your playing in a ‘tournament’ two days before it starts, but that didn’t prevent Matt Villata from performing well in the Kings Faceoff opener.
“Personally, I wanted to set the tone for myself this year and start on a high note. And I feel like, in this game, I stuck to my structure which is what I wanted to do and just go out and play.” That was a calm and cool Villalta after a shutout victory.
He was sound in the net.
Good positioning, versatility, and clutch saves were exhibited throughout the game for Matty V.
4. Helge Grans
It was my first chance to watch Helge Grans play in person. And he did not disappoint.
He started off the game showing a bit of nerves at times defensively. But as the game progressed, he gained more and more confidence and engaged himself further offensively. He’s been known to be more of an offensive-minded defender, and we were finally able to see that ability later in the game on a zone rush through the neutral zone.
He picked up the puck and almost glided his 6-foot-3 frame around the defense, and fed Arthur Kaliyev with a nice look in the slot. Unfortunately, Arthur was unable to get off a clean look, but it was nice to see those offensive instincts from Grans takeover for those few seconds.
Hope to see more of that this weekend.
5. Aidan Dudas is a forechecking machine.
Loved everything about Aidan Dudas’ game today. He NEVER stops skating.
Aidan Dudas, who's had an excellent game, gets the puck to Fagemo who fires it on the net with Madden potting home the rebound.
— Russell Morgan (@NHLRussell) September 18, 2021
Every time 87 was on the ice, he was noticeable. Constant pressure and forechecking ability caused multiple turnovers and eventually led to a goal. Dudas gets lost in the shuffle of high-profile Kings prospects, but whenever I see him play, he makes things happen.
He’s not known to be a scoring type forward, but he can definitely grow into an excellent bottom-six forward in the NHL.