Iafallo, the Kings Powerplay and Being Wrong
I thought that with a healthy Jeff Carter and an NHL-ready Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Iafallo wouldn’t have to play on the first line. Cue the Dustin Brown injury and my first prediction is shot to pieces. Not only is Iafallo firmly set at the top left wing spot, but he’s also leading the team in scoring behind two goals (both of which came in a 4-2 wing against the Red Wings) and two assists.
It’s early, yes. But never would I have predicted that kind of a start for Iafallo. Being wrong about that is not a bad thing.
Being wrong about the Kings power play is more of a bummer.
Again, we’re very early in the season and both Tampa Bay and Nashville have zero power play goals.
But the Kings have had 10 opportunities, and have not only not scored but looked disorganized and less dangerous than I would have expected. And yes, the league average is just two of nine, so we’re still within the margin of error, but I’d like to see them get a couple power-play goals and get Kovalchuk more involved.
Kopitar and More Speculation
Even without Brown on his forward line, Anze Kopitar has done a great job of picking up right where he left off in a Hart Trophy-esque 2017-2018 season. His two goals have been beauties and he’s doing a good job of getting shots through (even though Trevor Lewis weirdly leads the team in shots on goal).
But it’s just too small of a sample size to know what LA is really going to look like this year. At just three games in, we’re still reading the tea leaves.
I think the biggest question surrounding this team is whether or not their offense can start to keep pace with how strong they’ve been defensive.
Three games in, that doesn’t look like the case.
You’ve still got a really strong defensive team that struggles to score goals or look very dangerous offensively. Even in the Winnipeg game, which I didn’t expect them to win, I would have expected them to spend more time in the offensive zone and get a few more shots. It just didn’t happen. Yes, Kovalchuk got his first goal with the team, and that’s great, but lost in that is getting outshot 39 to 17 and getting out-chanced 62 to 38 percent.
Even in the game, they won against Detroit, they were out-chanced 59 to 40 percent. The offense just isn’t there yet for LA, and I wouldn’t blame that on the absence of Dustin Brown.
Concluding a Three-Game Look
I’m still holding out hope that the Kings can get their offense going to complement their solid defensive identify. There’s only so much that three games can tell you, but I do think Iafallo’s start is a really positive bright spot for this team, and a step in that more offensive direction. Let’s hope he keeps it up and continues to prove me wrong.