After LA Kings head coach indicated he needs more from Adrian Kempe, the winger scored the game-tying goal on Saturday night.
Since becoming a full-time member of the LA Kings in 2017-18, Adrian Kempe has been one of the team’s most promising youngsters. However, while his average of 13 goals and just over 32 points over the last three seasons are certainly noteworthy numbers, Kempe’s consistency has been an issue at times. This was addressed following the club’s 3-1 loss to Minnesota on Friday.
On Saturday, Kempe responded.
Following their defeat on Friday that ended his team’s six-game winning streak, LA Kings head coach Todd McLellan singled out Adrian Kempe as a player who needs to step up his game. The 24-year-old, who entered Saturday’s rematch against the Wild with four goals and six assists on the year, knew what he had to do in response to his coach’s criticism.
While the LA Kings started out trailing 3-0 again, Saturday night saw something different. The LA Kings, sporting their snazzy Reverse Retro uniforms, fought back and, trailing 3-2 late and just beginning a power play, tied the game on a knuckler from, you guessed it, Adrian Kempe. Yet, while the LA Kings did lose in the last second of overtime, they did nonetheless pick up a crucial point, and that is largely thanks to Kempe’s efforts.
Kempe spoke with the media following Saturday’s overtime loss and addressed responding to McLellan’s criticism.
“From the last couple of games, I haven’t really shot the puck enough, I don’t think, and, you know, try to be a little bit more around the net,” the Swedish winger acknowledged. “So, l create a lot of chances and, you know, tonight I was looking to get it in and around the net a little more and to shoot a lot more parks, and that was obviously a step in the right direction for myself.”
Kempe’s equalizer capped off a resilient comeback, but it was sparked but a team simply looking to right their wrongs, so to speak, from the previous night.
“Today, I think we took over right from the second period and had some really good chances,” Kempe noted. “Our lines played well. We got in on their D and played– made it simple. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get two points tonight, but, I mean, I think it was a good fight back from for the team, and we’re going to take that with us, for sure.”
Shortly following Kempe, the aforementioned Todd McLellan spoke with the media, responding to whether he was impressed with how his left winger responded.
“I was,” the LA Kings head coach said matter-of-factly. “He made a difference in the game tonight. He looked like a hungrier player.
“He’s such an important player for us. He’s a really good player. He does so many things well: penalty-kill, power-play, he can be physical, he can skate. So, when all those things are showing up in the game, he’s a force, and he’s a tough player to handle. When a few of them are missing, he just becomes average; and when a lot of them are missing, we’re short a player. There hasn’t been many of those games, but sometimes just a gentle reminder that, you know, where you’re taking your shots from and the shot volume, it’s disappearing a little bit. So, we reminded him of that, and, as I thought, he responded, or thought he would, he responded quite well.”
If their recent six-game winning streak has taught us anything, it was that the LA Kings are at their best when each and every player is giving it their all. That statement may border on the obvious, but regardless, it warrants repeating. Nevertheless, Adrian Kempe is one of the most important players for the LA Kings when it comes to everyone stepping up, and while slumps are the nature of the beast with any player, the 24-year-old still needs to step it up when he needs to, and that is just what he did on Saturday.
Entering the weekend, Kempe had just one goal in his last 14 games, and he picked an ideal time to snap that skid. So, here’s hoping we see more from No. 9 as the LA Kings return home for three games. They begin their homestand on Wednesday when they play host to the Arizona Coyotes.