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Frolov, slowed by injury, shows improvement

Times Staff Writer

In many ways, forward Alexander Frolov had a breakout year for the Kings last season, with career highs for goals (35), power-play goals (10), assists (36) and points (71).

But so far this season, Frolov’s numbers are nothing special, with only one goal and six assists in nine games.

“We need him to contribute,” Kings Coach Marc Crawford said about Frolov, who is in his fourth season with the Kings. " . . . He was such a big part whenever we had success last year.”

A big reason behind Frolov’s slow start has been a groin injury that has plagued him since training camp. It helped limit Frolov’s mobility and scoring, which is what he does best.

“I had a tough time for the first three games,” the 25-year-old said. “It was frustrating because of the groin injury.”

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After picking up an assist against the Ducks to start the season in London, Frolov did not score a point in the next three games. But since, Frolov’s groin injury has gotten better and his play on the ice has improved.

Frolov currently has a five-game scoring streak, including his first goal of the season scored in the Kings’ 4-2 victory at Vancouver on Friday.

“He’s getting better; he scored a goal,” Crawford said. “I don’t think we’ve seen him at his best yet.”

Goaltender Jason LaBarbera, who made 26 saves to defeat the Canucks, will get his second consecutive start when the Kings play host to Nashville on Tuesday at Staples Center.

“We have two really good goalies right now,” said Crawford, referring to Jean-Sebastien Aubin and LaBarbera. “Jason has played very well and we will continue to put him in between the pipes because he’s seeing the puck right now and he’s working really well.”

LaBarbera has bounced back after making two poor starts to open the season, registering an .879 save percentage and 3.33 goals against average. Against Vancouver, LaBarbera made nine saves and stopped four power plays in the first period.

“You know how it is once you get confidence,” Crawford said about LaBarbera, who also played well after he replaced Aubin in the Kings’ loss at Calgary last week.

Forward Ladislav Nagy, who signed a one-year, $3.75-million contract as a free agent during the off-season, responded well in the Kings’ victory at Vancouver after being a healthy scratch for two games, Crawford said.

“It comes down to what he has to be in order to be an effective player,” Crawford said about Nagy, who has four assists this season.

“He creates a lot. He is a very dynamic guy. When he’s forceful with the puck and controlling the puck, he’s quite an effective player. For me, the key is making sure that he stays competitive and doesn’t get knocked off the puck.”

As of Sunday, the Kings’ Michael Cammalleri leads the NHL in goals with eight. Anze Kopitar is sixth in scoring with 12 points (four goals and eight assists). Lubomir Visnovsky is tied for sixth among defensemen in scoring with six points.

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lonnie.white@latimes.com


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