In this edition of Los Angeles Kings News & Rumors, I discuss Lias Andersson’s first practice in a regular jersey since returning from injury and the recent performance of the second line. I also review the team’s final game at Gila River Arena.
Andersson Skating in Regular Jersey
Early in January, Andersson was placed on injured reserve (undisclosed). On Thursday, he skated for the first time with the team in a regular jersey; he and Carl Grundstrom acted as extras at the practice, rotating through the team’s bottom-six.
Lias Andersson, former New York Ranger Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Due to injury, Andersson has played just 13 games so far this season, totaling one assist. The team is playing quite well right now, so we’ll have to see where he fits in when he is ready to return to games. His performance in the games he has played hasn’t been great, but he will look to change that as he gets over his injury.
Kings’ Second Line Dominating Play
The Kings’ second line has been a constant for the team recently. The unit starts with Phillip Danault in the middle with Trevor Moore and Viktor Arvidsson to his left and right. Arvidsson has been the highest scorer of the three, with 15 goals and 19 assists through 44 games this season, followed by Danault — he has put up 14 goals and 15 assists over the course of 49 games — and Moore, who has recorded eight goals and 20 assists in 51 games.
Phillip Danault, Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)
Arvidsson has led the Kings this season in individual expected goals (ixG) with 19.2 on the season, and Moore and Danault rank third and fifth in the same category, with 15.82 and 9.69 ixG, respectively. Additionally, Arvidsson, Danault, and Moore rank first, second, and sixth on the team in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) for those playing more than seven games, with a 58.04, 57.56, and 56.44 xGF%, respectively. This means LA has been expected to outscore their opponents with these players on the ice.
Related: LA Kings 2021-22 Season Preview: Forward Lines Projection
Their contributions are most evident in their wins above replacement (WAR) totals — WAR tracks the number of wins a given player contributes to his team over that of a replacement-level player. Moore has taken the lead on LA with 1.6 WAR thus far, ahead of Danault with 1 WAR — sixth on the team — and Arvidsson with 0.9 WAR — eighth on the team.
Given their elite individual performances, one could guess that their numbers as a line are just as good. The trio leads the Kings with their 62.55 Corsi for percentage (CF%) — this means that LA has possessed the puck significantly more than their opponent with the second line on the ice. They also rank first on the team in xGF% for combinations that have played more than 30 minutes with a 62.78 xGF%.
The line also leads the Kings by far with their goals for per 60 rate (GF/60) of 4.39, and their 1.29 goals against per 60 rate (GA/60) ranks fourth for units playing more than 30 minutes together and first for those playing more than 115 minutes.
Head coach Todd McLellan recently commented on the line combination: “Each of them complements the other…If somebody has a weakness, the other guy picks that up. They discuss a lot, they hold each other accountable, which I think is really important. There’s a lot of really positive intangible parts, and then the skating, the faceoffs, the passing, it’s all pretty sharp. They’re a very good line on both sides of the puck.”
Danault, Moore, and Arvidsson will look to continue to provide strong, dependable play as the race for the postseason carries on.
Kings Play Last Game at Gila River Arena
With the Arizona Coyotes heading to Arizona State University next season, the Kings have played their last game at Gila River Arena. Wednesday night in Glendale, the Kings took a win over the Yotes — their second win over Arizona in under a week. The game stayed scoreless until early in the second period when Clayton Keller netted his 21st of the season.
Blake Lizotte and the Kings answered less than 20 seconds later before taking the lead less than a minute after that — Arvidsson’s 14th. Barrett Hayton tied the game 2-2 before the end of the second; Vladislav Kolyachonok recorded his first NHL point on the goal. Arvidsson reclaimed the lead for LA with less than four minutes to play, and the Kings ultimately won the game by a final score of 3-2.
LA controlled the game with 35 shots compared to the Coyotes’ 19. The Kings recorded 3.17 expected goals for (xGF), while Arizona put up just 1.24, and the Kings put up 67 Corsi for (CF), surpassing Arizona’s 41. Overall, it was an impressive final game at Gila River Arena.
Advanced Stats per Evolving-Hockey
Zackary Weiner is a high school student from New York City who covers the Los Angeles Kings here at The Hockey Writers. He is a lifelong hockey fan and player, and his previous experience includes writing articles about the NHL for various online publications. His articles cover a wide variety of topics that concern the Kings and he takes into account a range of viewpoints, making his articles a perfect read for anyone who wants to stay up to date on the team. Zackary is more than happy to get into a conversation with fellow Kings fans, so feel free to leave a comment below any of his articles like this one to let him know your opinion and what you want to see next. You can also listen to him talk about the team on Fantasy Hockey Life and The Hockey Writers Live.