LA Kings: Lias Andersson Was ‘Ready’ and Proved It

LA Kings (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Patient but eager, Lias Andersson regularly walked up to LA Kings’ head coach Todd McLellan and say, “I’m ready.” On Wednesday night, he proved it.

Having lost three straight games, the LA Kings needed any kind of boost to snap that skid. On Wednesday night against a very tough Vegas team, the silver-and-black did just that. In what was arguably their best performance in recent weeks, the LA Kings came guns-a-blazing against the Golden Knights, winning 4-2 to hand them their first loss at T-Mobile Arena in the month of March.

En route to the victory, the LA Kings enjoyed a production-by-committee effort. Included in that effort was forward Lias Andersson, who returned to the big club for the first time since Feb. 16.

Acquired last October from the New York Rangers, Andersson was brought to Los Angeles in hopes that a new team would help revamp his career. The former first-rounder had his share of struggles on Broadway and was hoping that a dose of Hollywood could do the trick. Wednesday evening marked a promising (re)start for the youngster.

Already up 1-0, the LA Kings were vying to extend their lead when their pressure-filled offensive attack was capped off by Andersson tipping home his second tally of the season — and first since Jan. 24 — to put the LA Kings on the path to victory.

Following Wednesday’s win, Andersson spoke with the media about how he felt not only being back with the big club but making an immediate contribution.

“It was fun, of course,” the 22-year-old beamed. “Fun to be back, first of all, and then to get a goal, it was good. A good feeling and a good win here on the road.”

Jumping back into the lineup on Wednesday, Andersson was paired with Blake Lizotte and Austin Wagner. While line experimentation has been commonplace for the LA Kings this season, the centerman hopes to spend some more time with his speedy linemates.

“Yeah, it was good, good to play with both those two guys,” Andersson said. “They’ve got a lot of speed and take the game fast out there. So, you know, our game plan was to get the puck deep and [work on] that and try to get to the net.

“I think we did a good job of that and obviously had a lot of chances. Maybe [we] should have scored a couple more but a good, solid game for our line.”

While he only logged 10:10 in his return to the lineup, Andersson made the most of his performance on Wednesday, going plus-one, creating great chances, and even blocking a shot along the way. But it hasn’t been an easy road back for the Swedish center who was sent to the AHL to get more playing time.

Again, Andersson made the most of limited time, scoring six goals and three assists in eight games for the Ontario Reign. This perseverance and effort did not go unnoticed by Todd McLellan.

“I think Lias did a really good job,” the LA Kings head coach observed. “He came to a new team, he played some games, he was in and out. He didn’t play a lot, so we asked him to go to the minors just get his game polished up and get some game action. He did that. He was very patient. Every day, he showed up at the rink, or every time he walked by me and said, ‘I’m ready,’ and he was. When his number was called, he was ready. Good for him.”

As for the trio of Andersson, Lizotte, and Wagner, McLellan was just as satisfied.

“I thought that line had a bit of a spark, which was good for our team tonight,” the LA Kings bench boss added. “[Vegas was] short a player, and then when Chandler [Stephenson] took the major, they were short, too. So, I think us having a fourth line that could give us minutes was valuable.”

While he may not have been directly involved in his team’s playoff race in the past month, Andersson is nonetheless committed to helping the LA Kings fight for a postseason berth. Wednesday’s victory was a crucial one, to say the least, pulling the silver-and-black to four points of the fourth-place Blues.

“Every point is huge at this point,” Andersson noted. “Even the first game of the year was as important as this one. It’s a tight, tight league with a lot of good teams, so every game is huge, and we play like it’s a playoff game here now.

“We obviously want to win every game but have to be smart, too, play the right way, and don’t get too stressed about the standings or anything. Just take it day by day and focus on one game at a time. We obviously want to be in the playoffs, and that’s what we’re aiming for.”

His return to the big club was an auspicious one, but now, we will see if Lias Andersson can continue with his positive contributions to the LA Kings in this their most important juncture of the season.

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The LA Kings also have a decision to make this summer as the 22-year-old is set to become a restricted free agent. Until then, though, the performance window is wide open for Andersson. The more he can contribute and the more he can help his club get their foot into the playoff door, so to speak, the easier the decision will be for the LA Kings to retain the youngster’s services.