We can start by asking the same question that could have been asked after the previous Kings’ win, on Dec. 8 against the Vegas Golden Knights:
Where has this been?
The Kings played as good a fully rounded game as they have under interim coach Willie Desjardins and snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
The third line flexed its youthful energy, while Drew Doughty made up for a spotty road trip with one of his better defensive games.
Here’s what we learned:
It’s the Luff and Wagner show. The two only played sparingly on the same line with the Ontario Reign but they are carpool partners, friends and roommates on the road. So it’s not surprising that they have chemistry on the ice.
“I just think overall, off the ice, on the ice, we’re good friends,” Matt Luff said. “I think it’s just a good bond to have overall.”
Luff and Austin Wagner are centered by Michael Amadio, who generated chemistry with Wagner in the preseason with several breakaway passes. The line has been together for several games.
“Obviously it helps to play with them last year a little bit,” Wagner said. “We know where each other are going to be. The line’s working right now. We’ve just got to keep playing hard and playing our way and not try and change a thing.”
Nikita Scherbak is missing in action. Scherbak played one shift in the second period and did not play in the third period. He played one shift in the third period of Saturday’s game.
Asked about Scherbak postgame, interim coach Willie Desjardins said it was a coach’s decision.
“He’s a young guy, and sometimes young guys, you know, maybe they don’t have the best game,” Desjardins said. “I think he’s a talented player. But I think guys are responsible [for getting ice time]. They have to play a certain level to play. I didn’t think he was at that level. I think he’s played well in other games, but tonight I didn’t think he was there.”
Scherbak, a waiver-wire pickup, is pointless in five games since he scored a goal in his Kings debut on Dec. 8 against Vegas.
This could be the lineup for three more games. The Kings have until midnight Wednesday before the NHL’s holiday roster freeze kicks in. That prohibits trades, waiver moves and minor league demotions through Dec. 27.
Their injured players are still inching toward a return. Alec Martinez is considered week-to-week and could be out another two weeks, general manager Rob Blake said in an email. Kyle Clifford (concussion symptoms) and Jack Campbell (knee) are likely the closest, while Ilya Kovalchuk was expected to be out one month from his Dec. 2 ankle procedure.
That leaves Martinez (upper body), Dion Phaneuf (upper body), Trevor Lewis (foot) and Carl Hagelin (knee) either week-to-week or likely not available until after the New Year.