LA Kings: Adrian Kempe on hat trick ‘trying to be around the net more’

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports) /

Adrian Kempe scored his second career hat trick for the LA Kings on Monday. Following the game, he broke down why he’s having success.

In recent weeks, LA Kings center Adrian Kempe was challenged by his head coach, Todd McLellan, being pushed to do more offensively. Since then, Kempe has answered the call.

On Saturday, he capped off an impressive LA Kings comeback by scoring the overtime winner against St. Louis, but on Monday in Anaheim, he stepped it up even more. In the LA Kings’ first visit to Honda Center this season, Kempe stood out by netting his second-career hat trick. While they ultimately lost in overtime, the LA Kings likely would not have collected any points had it not been for the Swede’s offensive contributions.

Following Monday’s game, Kempe spoke with the media about his success on this night but also on how his team had to play comeback again.

“The start wasn’t the best,” the 24-year-old admitted. “But, I mean coming back after that, we were just trying to talk about, before the game, the forecheck and create turnovers and then try to get there as quickly as possible. That’s kind of what we did, and then, you know, we had some chances on the power play tonight and finally got one. So, that was a big goal, as well.”

Since being challenged by Coach McLellan, Kempe has scored five goals in as many games, improving his season total to eight tallies. While stoic, the 2014 first-rounder was, and is, definitely happy to be producing a lot more since said challenge.

“I was excited to play and was happy with my play but still didn’t score as much as I want to but still had my chances,” Kempe said of his play prior to McLellan’s challenge. “Been trying to be around the net more since the last couple of games back and got some there tonight, so it was good.”

Of his three goals on Monday, Kempe scored one on the power play — his second of the season with the man-advantage. His pair equals his total from last season, although he needed just 23 games this season as opposed to 69 last season. Yet, while his power play efficiency has been impressive, so has Kempe’s overall offensive production. It is something that the one they call “Juice” has contributed to, among other reasons, getting his shots off quicker than usual.

“First of all, just been trying to hit the net a lot more than I did last year,” Kempe noted. “Had some good chances last year. Maybe it doesn’t hit the net, and you don’t get that second opportunity. I think this year I’ve been just working on my one-timer a lot, just trying to get it off and off my tape as quick as possible, and just trying to get it on the net because we have [Iafallo] and Brownie up there. They’re unreal on rebounds and everything.”

As for McLellan, he has certainly noticed Kempe’s improved play as of late and, following Monday’s game.

“It was about four or five games ago we asked him to find a way to contribute a little bit more, and he certainly has offensively,” the LA Kings head coach noted.

So, has McLellan been happier with Kempe’s play?

“Oh, absolutely,” a matter-of-fact McLellan responded.

The best players seem to be at their best when they need to resilient. This has been the case for Adrian Kempe as of late.

With three goals on Monday night and five goals in his last five games, Kempe is certainly proving that he’s an integral part of this young, exciting LA Kings club. He also may be increasing his own trade value, assuming that LA Kings management is even interested in such a route. Whatever the case may be, though, Adrian Kempe was met with criticism and doubt, and he has answered said skepticism with a vengeance.

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How long he will keep up this pace remains to be seen but regardless, Kempe is certainly giving fans of the silver-and-black ample reason to keep tuning in.