LA Kings: Toby Bjornfot Riding High After Setting Up GWG on Sunday
A day after winning against Montreal, the LA Kings were right back to work. Thanks partially to Toby Bjornfot, the Kings won again.
In what was arguably his best game of the season so far, LA Kings defenseman Toby Bjornfot was a difference-maker on Sunday afternoon, helping the silver-and-black to a 3-2 come-from-behind win against the Buffalo Sabres.
Despite not registering any points prior to Sunday’s matinee, Toby Bjornfot has shown signs of better play in recent outings. On Sunday, where fans came out to STAPLES Center dressed up for Halloween, the Swedish blueliner gave Sabres defenders a fright, recording two assists — the latter of which a primary helper on Alex Iafallo‘s eventual game-winner — to give the Kings their second win in as many days.
Overall, Bjornfort finished the matinee matchup with a plus-one rating, three shots on goal, and three blocked shots. One of those blocked shots, in fact, saved an otherwise-pristine scoring opportunity for the Sabres, although the 20-year-old did feel a sting from it. The blocked shot even led to Carl Grundstrom‘s first tally of the year to put the Kings on the board.
“No, I’m fine there,” Bjornfot assured the media following Sunday’s win. “Nice for Grundy to get a goal there but yeah, I’m fine. It’s a huge comeback here tonight.”
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Feeding off their momentum from Saturday, a convincing win against Montreal, Bjornfot, and the Kings got off to another strong start. This time, however, they fell behind 2-0 — as opposed to 1-0 on Saturday. But, also like on Saturday, the silver-and-black showed great resilience, scoring three times to ultimately grab the victory.
“I think we were familiar with what we did yesterday and we played really good today,” Bjornfot said of the Kings’ energy level. “Buffalo’s a good team and yeah, I think a huge win today.”
As for the defenseman’s increased comfort level, it was evident on Sunday on a number of plays. That included one play where he set up Adrian Kempe on a 2-on-1 but especially on the aforementioned game-winner scored by Saturday’s hero, Alex Iafallo.
“Trying to join the rush as much as I can and trying to just play my game,” a modest Bjornfot noted of his comfort level. “When you score a goal, you get momentum through the whole team. Everyone got pumped there and it helped in the comeback tonight.”
As for the coaching staff, they had some advice for Bjornfot recently.
“[The coaches are] trying to say to me, like, be a more offensive threat and play your game, and I’m used to skating, so that’s what I’m trying to do,” said the blueliner.
Since Drew Doughty and Sean Walker were sidelined, the Kings were forced to experiment with some new pairings on the back-end. One of those pairings is Bjornfot and Mikey Anderson, who played well as a unit this weekend.
Like Bjornfot, Anderson finished Sunday’s contest at plus-one and logged 20:58 of total ice time — slightly more than Bjornfot’s total of 19:48. Nevertheless, the two prove that they work well together and, according to Bjornfot, the familiarity from being AHL teammates certainly doesn’t hurt.
“We know each other pretty good [having played] together [with] the Reign, so we know each other well and just trying to help each other out there,” he explained.
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If their slow start to the season wasn’t enough, the Kings’ woes were only exasperated once Doughty and Walker got injured. Yet, while skeptics were immediately calling for the sky to fall, the realists were rational enough to understand that these key losses paved the way for an opportunity for someone new or unproven.
And, while it is a stretch to describe him as unproven, Toby Bjornfot has nonetheless used this weekend as an ideal starting point to what the Kings and their fans will hope will lead to bigger things from the young blueliner.
Viktor Arvidsson, who was productive on Saturday against the Canadiens, missed Sunday’s game, having been placed on COVID protocol with Gabe Vilardi.
This is not to suggest that their first winning streak of the season warrants a huge celebration but the LA Kings are nonetheless looking a lot better exiting the weekend than they were entering it. So, while he is not the only factor in this happening, Toby Bjornfot is a significant reason for that anyway. Plus, Jonathan Quick now has that proverbial monkey off his back, having earned his first win of the season on Sunday.
The Kings, who are now 3-5-1 on the young season, have a few days off before their next matchup — a Wednesday night encounter with the St. Louis Blues.
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