Kings Might Have Found Their New Second Line
McLellan might also persist with the Moore-Danault-Arvidsson line, but he shouldn’t be afraid to break them up.
It's not secret that the Los Angeles Kings' second line hasn't been the dominant force it was down the stretch last seaosn.
With Danault centering Trevor Moore and Viktor Arvidsson, with Alex Iafallo filling in for the injured Moore, they haven't been bad. But haven't been great either.
The most common version, with Moore on the line, has been outscored 15-11 while on the ice together. There still post positive possession metrics and a positive expected goals, but the raw totals aren't there.
And while the possession numbers are good, they aren't at the upper echelon of the league they were at last season.
Even outside of the numbers, to the eye test, that line hasn't looked the same this season.
There's a few reasons this line hasn't looked the same. But
arguably the main reason is Moore's struggles this season. I suspect the injury that currently has him listed as day-to-day has effected him more than the team as admitted.
And it's because of injury that Todd McLellan has stumbled upon a working formula.
With Moore a late scratch on Thursday, Kevin Fiala was promoted to the second line with Danault and Arvidsson.
The chemistry was clear early on.
Fiala has played up and down the lineup, finding a home on the third line, but McLellan hadn't tried him with Danault and Arvidsson before. He was likely expecting the magic to return for Moore, Danault and Arvidsson.
It will be hard to move Fiala off that line though.
They've been electric in the last two games. Fiala's ability to drive play and generate offense has been huge for them. As has his chemistry with Arvidsson.
The two spent some time together with the Nashville Predators and Milwaukee Admirals, but it looks like they've played together for years.
The Kings have found it a bit difficult to find players who can keep up with the unpredictability of Fiala's game, and two intelligent players in Arvidsson and Danault seem a good fit.
Danault and Arvidsson are also two responsible defensive players and can make up for what Fiala lacks in that department.
Just looking at the stereotypes you want from a line, these three fit together. Fiala is a play driver and creator, Arvidsson is a high volume shooter and Danault is someone who can retrieve pucks and pick up scraps in front of the net.
The line doesn't just look good on paper either. In these last two games they've outscored opponents 2-1, with the one goal against coming off an unlucky bounce after an extended shift of offensive zone time.
They looked like the team's best line in the two games and there's good reason to believe that will continue.
It also give McLellan the opportunity to increase Fiala's five-on-five ice time.
But, that leaves the question, what do you do with Moore?
Just listed day-to-day he won't be out of the lineup for long and will need a spot.
McLellan has a few options. He could just drop Moore to the fourth line in place of Jaret Anderson-Dolan or Arthur Kaliyev. But I'd be surprised if they relegate Moore to the fourth line.
That leaves three main options. Either promote Moore to the first line with Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe, moving Quinton Byfield down the lineup. Move Moore back to center and play him between Alex Iafallo and Gabe Vilardi. Or, put Vilardi back on the fourth line and play Moore with Iafallo and Lizotte.
I would try Moore at center. He holds a lot of the same skills as Lizotte and getting him in some easier matchups could help him get back up to speed.
McLellan might also persist with the Moore-Danault-Arvidsson line, but he shouldn't be afraid to break them up.
Fiala is a genuine superstar and if he can fit in the top-six, that's where he should play.