LA Kings Golden Knights

Photo Credit: Alex Cave / Hockey Royalty

Sean Durzi‘s ill-advised stretch pass that ultimately led to Mark Stone‘s game-winner with under 30 seconds to play was a microcosm of the LA Kings‘ first game of the 2022-23 regular season. Todd McLellan didn’t mince words following the game, calling the game’s fourth goal “stupidity” on his team’s part.

Los Angeles carried over some of the mistakes from the preseason, particularly committing ill-timed and unnecessary penalties. The Kings made themselves shorthanded five times, which the Golden Knights converted on one of them.

Anze Kopitar, entering his 17th season in the National Hockey League, has continued to bring tremendous leadership to the organization. The 35-year-old captain guided the Kings through a challenging rebuild, and he’s confident that the team will overcome the sloppy play from Tuesday’s game.

“We’ll get it corrected for sure. You can chalk it up to a first game and all of that, but the bottom line is we just can’t afford to lose a game like that with the amount of mistakes that we made,” he said.


Jonathan Quick’s effort didn’t go unnoticed

Quick was under siege for most of the night, stopping 47-of-51 shots on goal, marking the most by a LA Kings goaltender in a season-opening game previously held by Rogie Vachon (45).

Todd McLellan was asked the most disappointing part about the loss, and he was quick (no pun intended) to point out Jonathan Quick‘s strong game.

“Well, the end result because we were still in it at the end of the night, so losing the game that we got an outstanding effort by our goaltender, and we still had a chance to win and had a chance on point, really. Obviously, the focus is going to be on the play at the end, which makes no sense, it’s hard to defend it, but our team gave up 51 shots on goal tonight.”

Kopitar offered similar remarks regarding Quick’s ability to keep it at a one-goal game:

“He’s proven it for 15 years, so it’s certainly something that we’ve talked about before and I’m sure we’re going to talk about it again moving forward.”

Gabe Vilardi taking it day-by-day

It was only fitting that Vilardi opened the scoring for the Kings after his incredible preseason. At 23 years and 56 days old, he is the fourth-youngest LA skater in the last 15 years to score in the team’s season-opening game.

The former 11th overall pick in 2017 led the team with four goals in the exhibition slate, and he’s looked like a totally different player in the early stages of the 2022-23 campaign. Confidence has always seemed to be the driving factor in Vilardi’s game, and he noted on Tuesday that he’s taken a different approach this year.

“I just came (to camp) with the mentality to take it day-by-day,” he said. “I felt like I put so much pressure on myself since I turned pro, honestly. So, just coming in and playing. That’s it.”

Fiala’s uneventful debut

In his first game with his new team, Kevin Fiala was rather… quiet. The 26-year-old registered just two shots on net and logged 15:24 TOI. Fiala’s best look came in the opening period in transition with Kempe, with the former snapping a wrist shot on Vegas netminder Logan Thompson.

“While I’ve seen him in a number of games, I guess this will be the first one for regular season and the fans,” McLellan said. “He’s got a skill set that’s going to be real valuable to our team. He’s still finding his way with his linemates and within our system.”

The LA Kings will look to notch their first win of the year when they host the Seattle Kraken on Thursday night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *