When the Kings host the Coyotes on Tuesday, it could be the first regular-season matchup for Kempe brothers
The photo captured the Kempe brothers perfectly.
Last year, Kings forward Adrian Kempe played against older brother Mario of the Arizona Coyotes in a preseason game, and the two smiled as they skated by each other in pregame warmups.
It is the header photo on Adrian’s Twitter page, which speaks to the rarity of the moment. Adrian, 22, is eight years younger than Mario, and they never played against each other growing up in Sweden, let alone in a game that counts in the NHL standings. But that could change Tuesday.
Adrian is hopeful to return from an upper-body injury, and Mario is back up with the Coyotes after teammate Michael Grabner suffered an eye injury. The brothers planned to have dinner Monday night, and if the matchup happens, it will be in front of their parents.
“I remember in preseason last year it was the first time we ever played against each other,” Adrian said. “It was a real special moment. It’s been a while since [then]. Hopefully, we are both ready to play tomorrow and it’s going to be exciting and a lot of fun for both of us.”
Adrian said he fell into the boards at the morning skate Sunday but practiced Monday. It has been a difficult search for consistency for Kempe. He scored one goal in 49 games, from the end of last season to mid-November, and has three goals in 26 games. He’s one of the younger players that interim coach Willie Desjardins points to in helping the offense out of its doldrums.
“The thing for him is, we really need him,” Desjardins said. “We need him to be good. If there’s nights that he’s not good, then it’s going to hurt our team and really hurt our chances of winning. It puts a lot of pressure on him to be good, but that’s what you want from a young player.”
The brothers are wingers but they did go against each other in the faceoff circle in that preseason game. Adrian doesn’t remember who won, though, for good reason.
“I think we’re both average on faceoffs,” he said.
Kings claim Brendan Leipsic
Leipsic was a fourth-line left wing in Vancouver but is a fast skater that fits the Kings’ need to get faster, along with fellow waiver pickup Nikita Scherbak.
“I think adding these two guys, we’ve added a little bit of speed, a little bit of skill, which is always good to add to your lineup,” Desjardins said.
Leipsic and Scherbak are expected to join the team Tuesday but Scherbak’s work visa status was not yet known.
Gabriel Vilardi was granted a two-game extension on his conditioning assignment with the Ontario Reign, general manager Rob Blake said, and is expected to play Friday and Saturday. … Sheldon Rempal was selected the American Hockey League rookie of the month. … Ilya Kovalchuk (ankle) was put on injured reserve.
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: iHeartRadio (LA Kings Audio Network).
Update: Arizona goalie Adin Hill was selected the NHL’s second star of the week with 59 saves on 60 shots in three games. Antti Raanta could also be an option at goaltender.
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