LA Kings: Three questions ahead of Game Two against Avalanche

LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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LA Kings Dustin Brown
LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The LA Kings squared off against a high-powered Colorado Avalanche club on Tuesday night. The Avs came out firing on all cylinders, spending a lot of time in the offensive zone. Enough pressure was applied to tally the first goal of the game. Two more goals were scored via the power play before the LA Kings went to work.

Andreas Athanasiou scored his third goal in as many games, and Adrian Kempe finally got a goal to count after two previous ones were later credited to other players. With these two teams meeting again at STAPLES Center on Thursday night, there shouldn’t be any surprises for Los Angeles in this one.

That said, here are three questions to monitor throughout the game.

1. Can the LA Kings get production from their first line?

The LA Kings have been getting secondary scoring, but the first line has been nearly invisible. Outside of Dustin Brown‘s 300th career goal, the trio of Alex Iafallo, Anze Kopitar, and Brown have combined for one goal and seven points. According to Money Puck, the Kings’ first line has a 47.8 expected-goals-for percentage, but, as noted, they have very little to show for it.

Head coach Todd McLellan made some in-game line changes in the third period on Tuesday in an effort to create more scoring opportunities. Kempe’s goal came while he was playing with Iafallo and Kopitar on the first power play unit. And in Wednesday’s morning skate, the Kings head coach got a look at some different line combinations. Perhaps, he’s looking for more speed from his first line.

“You know, third and fourth lines first and second lines, and whoever’s playing well assumes that role,” McLellan said after practice on Wednesday. “Obviously, you would think Kopi would be one and Lizotte or Gabe two, and then on down the line. But you know, we flipped a couple of players around, and there’s a chance we’ll make a lineup change or two tomorrow, but other than that, it’s just trying to find combinations that will give us the best chance at success.”

Don’t be surprised to see Kempe and Brown swapped, as McLellan appeared to like the combination of Vilardi centering Brown.

“Gabe has the ability to speed or slow the game down a play either way, and he’s got good vision, good hands, makes good plays. Brownie can do some corner work and some net work for him. And I think those two things will complement each other.”