He expressed his desire to stay with the Kings on Thursday. On Friday, Lias Andersson earned his keep, scoring a late goal to tie and shift the momentum.
Following team practice on Thursday, Lias Andersson had told the media how happy he was to be with the LA Kings and how he wanted to stay with the big club. Well, if the remainder of the season was a test for the Kings forward, Andersson has gotten off to a promising start.
After nearly 55 minutes of somewhat lackluster hockey from the silver-and-black, Andersson tied the game in Anaheim, giving the Kings a surge in momentum that ultimately helped them win. So, while the team’s playoff hopes may be slim-to-none at this juncture of the season, the Kings youngsters are nonetheless using this opportunity as an audition of sorts for next season, Andersson included.
Following Friday’s victory in Anaheim, Andersson spoke with the media about the goal, giving credit to the man who set it all up.
“First of all, two great plays by Gabe [Vilardi],” Andersson said of the playmaker’s contributions. “On the rush, he made a nice drop pass to me. Trying to pick a corner there, missed, and Gabe almost banked it in on the rebound, and we got a little cycle going. Gabe made a terrific play to me. I was trying to stay off the far side a little bit and hopefully, the defenseman lost me, and it worked. Good play by Gabe and the guys on the ice.”
Friday’s victory against the Ducks proved to be an ideal test for Andersson.
While any success he garnered would have been noteworthy enough had the Kings had a strong, energy-filled outing, the fact that Andersson came through when his team’s effort, and energy level, was low for much of the evening is a testament to the 22-year-old’s resolve and his desire to help his team get right back in the thick of things.
Andersson was asked how it felt being able to tie the game under such circumstances.
“It means a lot, of course,” the centerman said. “We didn’t play our best today and I wanted to get us on the board so bad, so I was just happy after the goal. It feels better to score when the team hasn’t played very well and we can tie it up in the end. So, you know, it was a huge goal for the team and I’m very happy and excited for that.”
In just his second game back with the big club after playing in Ontario, Andersson’s focus to improve looks to be, dare I say it, infallible. For one, his synergy with linemates Trevor Moore and the aforementioned Gabe Vilardi, was evident on Friday, even if the Kings didn’t have the best game collectively. Still, the Smogen, Sweden, is only concerned with what he can control — and he and his linemates capitalized on that.
“I felt we had good chemistry, especially in the first period,” Andersson noted. “Had a lot of shifts going down in their end.”
As I mentioned yesterday, Andersson has been making the most of his opportunities. On Friday night, he logged just 10:02 of total ice time but made it count when needed. As for what’s been pushing him to be better, it’s not complicated according to Andersson as his play has been nothing a good deal of focus and hard work can’t fix.
“Just been working hard and trying to keep my pace up and my conditioning,” the modest 22-year-old added. “So, I’m ready when I get the shifts, get the chance, and try to stay sharp every day and just be prepared for anything. If it’s to play 10 minutes up here, if it’s to play 20, I’m just trying to stay prepared for anything. Happy to be here, here’s where I want to be, so I’m going to keep working even harder.”
Aside from Andersson’s efforts, scoring his third goal of the season, Anze Kopitar scored the game-winning goal with just 55 seconds remaining in regulation to pull to within three points of the 1000-point plateau. Defenseman Mikey Anderson, who assisted on Kopitar’s tally, extended his point streak to 10 games. Collectively, the Kings were perfect on the penalty kill for the third-straight game.
While their chances of making the playoffs are fading, the Kings nonetheless have plenty of reasons to be excited for the remainder of the season and next season. In spite of their effort for the majority of the night on Friday, this point in the season marks a test, a new opportunity, for many of the club’s youngsters to prove themselves and to carry over these crucial experiences into 2021-22. Andersson is no exception to this.
But, let us not focus on next season just yet. Let us, instead, enjoy what the Kings have to offer in terms of long-term prospects and see what the rest of the campaign has in store. Lias Andersson, for one, has certainly gotten off to an ideal start, making the next few games essential to tune into, whether you’re a fan of the LA Kings or simply a fan of good, exciting hockey.