The LA Kings defenseman said the team was dominant because of their play on the powerplay, “I think my goal is [to shoot] right off the faceoff.”
The LA Kings could not have asked for a better start to the 2021-22 regular season, although the final 6-2 score was not as linear as it appeared. The Vegas Golden Knights scored first, a blast from defenseman Shea Theodore from the blue line that probably should have been stopped by Kings’ netminder Cal Petersen. But at the time, it felt very much like a repeat of last season, where the Kings went 2-6 against the Golden Knights.
However, the Kings proceeded to score six unanswered goals, including a hat-trick from Anze Kopitar. The LA Kings’ captain had a five-point night, pacing all skaters on Los Angeles. Drew Doughty set the tone along the blueline, tallying four points in the season opener. The former Norris Trophy winner recorded assists on the team’s first three goals before potting a powerplay goal early in the third period to give the Kings a 5-1 advantage.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be that dominant or anything,” Doughty admitted. “[We] played one of the best teams in our division, and I thought everyone in our lineup played great tonight, so when you can have that, you’re gonna be successful.”
The Kings led 47-25 in shots on goal, marking the first time in the Peter DeBoer era that Vegas had allowed 40 shots in any game – regular season or playoffs. Los Angeles survived a five-minute stretch where Vegas regained the momentum in the second period before Kopitar scored his second goal of the night, swinging the momentum back in the Kings’ favor.
A major contributing factor to why the team was so successful was the powerplay. The Kings converted on both of their chances, which was a welcome sight, especially with how the team tailed off in that department in the second half of last season.
— Hockey Royalty (@Hockey_Royalty) October 15, 2021
“I mean, just moving the puck around, trying to get shots quick,” Doughty said on why the powerplay was so successful. “I think my goal is basically [to shoot] right off the faceoff, and that’s one thing we want to do is get a shot in early. Whether or not it gets blocked, sometimes if it does get blocked, that guy is not gonna want to block it that second time. So it’s just let one load, and then obviously Kopi [Anze Kopitar] had a great shot on his goal. The powerplay, we know, was very good for about three quarters of the year last year and then kind of blew up in our faces, so we’re very determined to have a good powerplay for the entire season this year.”
With four veterans left from the Stanley Cup runs, the LA Kings have surrounded their core with a young prospect pool while adding in established talent over the offseason. Players like Phillip Danault, Viktor Arvidsson, and Alex Edler all had impactful first games as members of the Los Angeles Kings. Danault scored his first goal 3:05 into the second period, Arvidsson assisted on Kopitar’s third goal, and Edler broke up a 4-on-1 chance for Vegas.
“I know we’re getting older or whatever you want to say, but we’re still driven we want to win again – that’s all we care about,” Doughty concluded. “And we go out there and lead by example and play our butts off, and that’s what we’re going to do every night.”
The LA Kings return to action on Saturday, hosting the Minnesota Wild at STAPLES Center, with puck drop set for 7:30 pm PT.