LA Kings Phillip Danault

Last night in Toronto, timely scoring combined with excellent play from Jonathan Quick helped the LA Kings to their first road victory of the season.

Former Maple Leafs’ prospect Trevor Moore got things going early in the game. He opened his first shift with a drive to the net and a quality chance against former LA Kings goaltender Jack Campbell. While that shot didn’t go in, he made up for it later when he opened the scoring. From there, the LA Kings didn’t look back as they shut down Toronto’s top players and earned their sixth win of the season.

Some thoughts from the game:

1. Andreas Athanasiou hasn’t missed a beat

LA Kings forward Andreas Athanasiou didn’t make his debut until November 5 after suffering a hand injury before the season began. For a player who relies on his skilled hands as much as he does his quick feet, you had to wonder exactly how he was going to fare.

Well, wonder no more: Athanasiou recorded an assist in the LA Kings win over the New Jersey Devils. Next, he followed that up by putting in a goal and an assist against the Maple Leafs. He’s picked up right where he left off.

And while there’s certainly reason to question breaking up the highly effective line of Alex Iafallo, Phil Danault, and Adrian Kempe, Athanasiou has looked great with them over the past two games. Athanasiou’s speed creates a huge problem for other teams. Athanasiou’s linemates can easily cover for any defensive lapses.

While Athanasiou’s return helps highlight the logjam at wing for the LA Kings — the only reason the team hasn’t had to make significant roster decisions is due to a rotating cast of injured players or players in COVID protocols — it can’t be denied that he possesses an exciting blend of speed and skill. He is versatile enough to be easily moved up and down the lineup as necessary. For now, let’s see if he can keep producing with Danault and Iafallo.

2. Phil Danault continues to validate new LA Kings contract

Feels like I should reserve a spot in all of my takeaways for Danault, who’s doing everything to show that he’s earned the contract that Rob Blake gave him. Leafs fans were already wary of this game, given the perception of Danaul as a “Leafs killer.” Whether his previous stats back that up or not, Danault earned the title in this game.

He finished the game with two goals, one assist, and seven shots on goal. Every time Danault was on the ice, it seemed like he was making things happen for the LA Kings. At even strength, Danault had a 66.67% Corsi-for and was on the ice for seven high danger chances for the LA Kings and none against.

Being able to spread defensive responsibilities out between Kopitar and Danault is paying dividends. Both Kopitar and Iafallo are seeing an explosion of offense, and Danault is helping drive play every time he’s on the ice.

3. Jonathan Quick is not going to go away quietly

Given Cal Petersen’s excellent performance against Montreal recently in Los Angeles, it makes sense that he’ll start against them again on Tuesday. That left this game in the hands of Jonathan Quick, which made LA Kings fans somewhat wary. Quick has looked great so far this season, but how would he fare against an offensively gifted team like the Leafs?

It turns out there wasn’t much to worry about. Quick elevated his already notable performance by turning in a 2012 caliber game. The LA Kings struggled to contain the Maple Leafs in the second and third periods. They allowed 14 shots in each of those periods. Quick stood tall, surrendering only one goal to John Tavares while the LA Kings were shorthanded.

There was very little of the out of position scrambling or other anxiety-provoking traits that we’ve come to know from Jonathan Quick. He played a calm, collected 60 minutes and shut down shots from some of the league’s most gifted players. Quick’s 0.971 save percentage is a season-high for him and his best since an April 30, 2021 outing against the Anaheim Ducks. In that game, he also stopped 33 of 34 shots faced.

While everyone’s waiting for Cal Petersen to definitively claim the starter’s role, Quick won’t let go without a fight. If he continues putting up numbers like this, the LA Kings will be glad to continue to trot him out for more games than initially expected.

The LA Kings have a chance to sweep the season series with the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow. Puck drop is at 4:00 pm PT.

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