The LA Kings have been a pretty weird team to follow this season. They started off with an amazing season opener at home, and then a cold, COLD streak, followed by a winning streak that is currently ongoing at four games. They’re sitting at 5-5-1 on the season so far, good for sixth in the Pacific Division. They’ve had some disappointments, but also some very surprising and impressive players, so here are three that have surprised me the most.
1. Alex Iafallo
Alex Iafallo has started off the season pretty great, with ten points (5 goals, 5 assists) through 11 games played with the club, while averaging 17:43 of time on ice per game. Iafallo also currently leads the Kings forwards in goals above replacement with 2.70 and is second on the entire team, trailing only defenseman Mikey Anderson.
The reason it’s so surprising is because of the fact that Iafallo isn’t even seeing minutes on the main powerplay, as he’s on the second unit. We’ve seen Iafallo score eight of his ten points this season at even-strength, where he’s just been completely dominant.
Iafallo is currently riding a five-game point streak in which he has seven points (4 goals, 3 assists), including the overtime game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils a couple of nights ago.
As of right now, Iafallo is on pace to finish with 74 points through 82 games played. Will this happen? No, most likely not, but it just goes to show at what an insane rate he has been able to produce for a team that has really struggled to score.
2. Viktor Arvidsson
When the Kings made the trade to acquire Viktor Arvidsson during the offseason, I was confused and unsure what direction the team was trying to go. Boy, was I ever wrong?
Arvidsson has managed to fit into Los Angeles perfectly, as five points (2 goals, 3 assists) through eight games played alongside Anze Kopitar this season. He’s a shooting machine, averaging four shots on goal per game, and he creates some very high-quality looks.
Arvidsson has 0.80 goals above replacement, good for 10th on the team so far this season. He’s been above replacement level offensively both at even-strength and on the powerplay and is just ever so slightly below replacement level defensively, with 0.10 even-strength defensive goals above replacement.
As of right now, the team is missing him due to the COVID-19 protocol list, but when he is healthy, he’s an amazing complimentary piece to the top-six, and the trade has worked out fantastically for the Kings.
3. Jonathan Quick
If you were to tell me before the season that Jonathan Quick would be the best goaltender in Los Angeles in 2021, I would have laughed in your face, but so far, he’s taken this Kings crease and absolutely run with it. He’s 2-3-1 on the season but boasts a .915 SV% and 1.07 goals saved above replacement (GSAx), which he ranks 23rd in the NHL.
For comparison, Cal Petersen has an .898 SV% to go with a -1.75 GSAx on the season. While he has been improving lately, he’s still quite a bit away from Quick in terms of showing his play.
While I’d be lying if I told you Quick hasn’t had his rough moments (I still cringe remembering the loss against the Dallas Stars), he’s still been the better of the tandem. Whether that will continue is another story, but it’s been nice to watch Quick be even a sliver of his old self this season.