Los Angeles Kings hockey is back! Friday night, the Kings opened up the NHL preseason with the league’s first-ever game in Australia against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Kings lost the game 4-3, but it was a preseason so, the score is ultimately irrelevant.
Because it was a preseason game, every reaction and analysis needs to be taken with a grain of salt. But it’s still worth running through some ups and downs.
UP: Fiala Dubois Connection:
By far the most intriguing narrative heading into this game was seeing Kevin Fiala and Pierre-Luc Dubois play together for the first time in a game.
Were they perfect together? Definitely not, but the upside was still very clear. Dubois had the physicality turned up from what you’d expect out of a preseason game and Fiala was his normal, dynamic self in the offensive zone.
Dubois was opening up space and Fiala was attacking the space that was opened up and that’s an exciting sign. Things often fell apart when trying to make that killer pass or the right decision to pass or shoot. But that’s to be expected this early on.
They’re still trying to figure each other out and there was too much deferring to one another, not trying to step on toes. Once that goes away though, we might see some magic.
I still have my concerns about their ability to defend and we saw them get trapped in their own zone a few times, but the offensive zone looks so promising.
Arthur Kaliyev is the other piece to this puzzle and he looked fine. He was engaged, through a few hits and got into some good spots. He’ll need to gain the confidence to take some more control, shoot even when there’s a pass available. But if he does that, the goals will come.
DOWN: Andreas Englund:
This is probably a bit harsh on Andreas Englund, he wasn’t bad by any means, but he wasn’t very noticeable either.
Actually, that’s not true, there was one moment where he was very noticeable. Unfortunately for Englund, that one noticeable moment was him being spun around by a beautiful Logan Cooley dangle and snipe.
Again, we shouldn’t take too much from this game and I’m not saying that Englund’s chances of making the team are zero now. But, I do think Tobias Bjornfot has an opportunity to jump Englund with a solid game on Saturday now.
One thing I didn’t see from Englund was the physicality he was supposed to bring. He was advertised as a physically punishing, mean defenseman and I just didn’t see that.
DOWN: Pheonix Copley:
I didn’t think Pheonix Copley was too bad, but man, those post-game stats look rough.
A .750 save percentage and four goals against is never a good look. Most of the goals weren’t his fault, although he’ll want Clayton Keller’s bank shot back, but again, those numbers are hard to justify.
Preseason games are weird and it’s really hard to judge goalies based on these games, but for a team with goaltending concerns, a stronger performance for Copley would have been nice.
I still expect him to back up Cam Talbot on opening night and I don’t think this game foreshadows a terrible season from Copley, but it wasn’t a great outing for him.
UP: Adrian Kempe:
Adrian Kempe picked up right where he left off last season. He was playing with speed, power and finesse all night.
His one goal was a beauty. After slipping the puck under the defender’s stick, he showed off that 40-goal-scorer shot, blowing the puck by Connor Ingram.
He created a few more chances for himself later in the game too. Capitalizing on a neutral zone turnover once and taking the puck strong to the net another time.
He also showed a few instances of driving play, something he added to his game last season.
Will he repeat with another 40-goal campaign? I’m not sure, but the early signs point to 30 being a near-lock.