What we learned from the Kings’ 4-3 overtime victory over Vegas:
There’s life in this bunch yet
While it still might make more sense for the Kings’ long-term future to miss the playoffs and hope for luck in the draft lottery, they’re no longer laughing distance out of the top eight in the West. They’re eight points behind Edmonton, which holds the second wild-card spot, and the struggles of the Ducks and Vegas suggest the Kings could still make a run at a postseason berth. Most players say they don’t look closely at the standings, but they do. At this point do they calculate how far away they are, or just put their heads down and keep going?
“Just put your head down and keep going,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “You never know what can happen. We know we’re pretty far out of it. To be honest I don’t think anybody’s looking at it. Everyone’s kind of blocked that out. We know if we can win let’s say, 15 out of 20, 17 out of 20, something like that, we might be right back in the picture. You never know. We’ve just got to control what we’re doing and win some hockey games.”
That’s what they’ve done the last three games, anyway.
Tyler Toffoli hadn’t forgotten how to score
The right wing went 18 games without a goal before he slipped a shot past Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury on Sunday, and it felt like an eternity to a guy who scored 31 goals in the 2015-16 season. He said teammates had been encouraging him through his famine and told him to keep shooting. That helped him avoid losing confidence in himself.
“I’ve been saying this a million times. I’ve been getting some really good opportunities. I wasn’t scoring but I thought my game was really in a good place,” he said. “Hopefully go on a little streak here and keep winning games, which is huge for us right now.”
He also said they’ll enjoy the streak during the Christmas break.
“We’ve done a really good job all year with the injuries and the position that we’re in, to try and stay as positive as possible,” he said. “To see things finally go in a good direction is really big for us right now.”
The young guys—and old guys—are producing
Their first two goal scorers on Sunday were 22-year-old Michael Amadio and 25-year-old Alex Iafallo. Jeff Carter, who will turn 34 on New Year’s Day, scored the third goal. They need more of that. Lots more of that.
“Mads is in and out of the lineup. Great kid and great player who plays really hard. I really like him as a player,” Doughty said of Amadio. “Great vision. For him to get one when he’s not playing a lot of minutes is huge. Our young guys have played great for us during this winning streak and obviously our vets and our goalies have played great, too.”
Coach Willie Desjardins liked the resilience he saw from his players against the Golden Knights, whom the Kings will face twice in the near future at home on Dec. 29 and at Vegas on Jan. 1.
“There’s some guys that have been around through playoff hockey. They know what it takes,” Desjardins said. “Saying that, we had a lot of young guys who had to find ways to battle through. Vegas has a good team. They play hard. It was nice for us to find a way to win.”