In celebration of Festivus, let us take this time to reflect on the “Feats of Strength” for the 2021-22 LA Kings thus far.
Okay, well it is, quite possibly, the most wonderful time of the year. So, as the NHL prepares for its holiday break, let us celebrate Festivus by showcasing the LA Kings‘ “Feats of Strength” thus far in 2021-22.
5) Arvidsson and Danault Coming as Advertised
Danault may be, for all intents and purposes, a defensive specialist but certainly has a ton of offensive upside, as well.
In 29 games this season, the 28-year-old has four goals and 10 assists for 14 points. Goal-wise, he’s just nine shy of his career-high, which was accomplished in 82 games in 2016-17 for the Montreal Canadiens.
As mentioned, though, it’s Danault’s defensive game that helps him stand out the most. So far, the Victoriaville, Quebec, native has 13 blocked shots, 29 hits, and has been a workhorse on the penalty kill, logging the second-most minutes on the team behind only Matt Roy. Danault has also been great in the faceoff circle, winning 247 of his 443 battles for a percentage of 55.8.
As for Arvidsson, aside from missing some time due to COVID protocol, he’s been consistently effective.
In 23 games this season, the 28-year-old has six goals and eight assists for 14 points. Beyond that, Arvidsson has proven to be a solid fixture in the Kings lineup, showing off his blue-collar style, helping his team out even when he doesn’t score.
Overall, two solid assets on paper and on the ice, the duo of Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson have come as advertised.
4) Anze Kopitar’s Leadership
He may have lost a step or two in recent years but frankly, Anze Kopitar’s assets to the LA Kings continue to supersede his liabilities.
In 30 games so far this season, Kopitar has nine goals – just four short of his 56-game total last season – and 18 assists for 27 points.
Beyond his numbers, though, Kopitar continues to lead by example even when he doesn’t appear on the scoresheet. Some may argue whether or not he deserves to wear the ‘C’ – granted, more of a testament to former captain Dustin Brown than a detriment to No. 11 – or whether he’s worth his $10 million AAV, but Kopitar nonetheless continues to impress.
In what continues to be a critical juncture for them, the LA Kings seek the best from the 34-year-old, and for good reason. Anze Kopitar continues to be a force for the silver-and-black – even if he has lost a step or two.
3) Adrian Kempe’s Consistency
In the last few seasons, Adrian Kempe has been somewhat of an anomaly for the LA Kings. When he’s on, he’s on. However, consistency – or lack thereof – has been a recurring issue for the 25-year-old.
Questions of consistency, however, have not been prevalent in 2021-22. So far this season, Kempe has proven his worth in full force. From his blazing speed to his refreshing creativity, Kempe has been one of the Kings’ brightest spots this season.
In 30 games, he has 12 goals and five assists for 17 points. He is just four shy of his career-high in goals, which was set in 2017-18 – in 81 games, no less. Yet, while he may be on pace to shatter his career-high in said category, it is Kempe’s consistency that is helping the Kramfors, Sweden, native stand out the most.
There is still a long way to go in the season, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t recognize – celebrate even – Kempe’s contributions when some expected very little if anything at all.
2) The Overall Contribution of Brendan Lemieux
While the rest of the league may think of him as a, as Brady Tkachuk famously called him, a “brickhead”, Brendan Lemieux has arguably been the most pleasant surprise for the LA Kings so far this season.
Upon his acquisitions from the New York Rangers back in March, little was expected of Lemieux aside from his toughness. However, while that has been a factor in his Kings tenure thus far, the 25-year-old has also contributed offensively, scoring five goals in 19 games so far this season. Better yet, Lemieux has developed great chemistry with his linemates – most notably Blake Lizotte and Arthur Kaliyev – showing off his unwavering grit and passion while helping the Kings win.
His five-game suspension may have posed as a setback but from what he showed in his return, the brief hiatus didn’t change anything.
He may not be a factor every night but Brendan Lemieux has nonetheless gone above and beyond this season, most notably as an effective agitator. Any team who has a player like that is leaps and bounds ahead of the game.
1) Jonathan Quick’s Reinvigoration
When he was left unprotected in this past summer’s Expansion Draft, many thought that Jonathan Quick’s career with the LA Kings was all but over. Regardless if the Seattle Kraken had selected him, it was evident that the 2012 Conn Smythe’s winner’s best days were behind him.
Or was it?
Whether it was because he still had two years left on his contract, or that he was an ideal mentor for Cal Petersen, a little of both, or for different reasons altogether, the LA Kings decided to hold onto Quick – and I’m sure they are glad they did.
While he may not have started his team’s season-opener, Quick has used the 2021-22 season to reinvigorate himself, if you will.
While he and Petersen began the campaign alternating starts, the latter began to struggle while the former took full advantage of his opportunities, convincing the Kings coaching staff to keep playing him.
In 18 games this season, Quick has earned a 2.19 goals-against average – his best since 2013-14 – and a .930 save percentage – his best since, well, ever.
Of course, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. After all, considering that he turns 36 next month, Quick is on the proverbial back-nine of his career and won’t be a starter for too much longer. Still, it is important to focus on the present and what Quick’s contributing in the here and now.
No. 32 has had enough critics suggest that he’s done, but if the 2021-22 season is any indication, Quick is showing that he has a lot more left in the tank. Regardless of how the remainder of the season goes for him, Quick is using this season to remind critics and supporters alike just how much he means to the LA Kings.
Stay tuned for the Festivus “Airing of Grievances” next.
*What do you think of this list? A different order? Anything left off that should have been included? Let us know in the comments!