After winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history last season, the Los Angeles Kings truly stuck to the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Heading into the lockout-shortened season, the Kings returned the same exact roster that won them the Stanley Cup the previous season.
Due to early season injuries to Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene, the Kings made some adjustments, bringing in veteran Rob Regehr and giving more ice time to young defenseman Jake Muzzin.
However, the move that may lead the Kings to their second cup in as many years was calling up twenty-one year old prospect Tyler Toffoli. Scouts criticized the young forward, claiming he didn’t possess the speed or physicality to play with the big boys.
Photo Credit: Rob Grabowski, USA TODAY Sports
Seeing limited game action in the Kings’ first two playoff series, coach Darryl Sutter called on Toffoli in game two against Chicago to fill in for the injured Mike Richards, one of the best players on the Kings. Having replaced Richards in two games thus far, the young forward has record a goal and an assist, and has proven to be the best offensive weapon for the Kings against a stingy Blackhawks defense.
Toffoli has a great sense of the game and often puts himself in the right places at the right times. He also does a tremendous job of skating with his eyes up, which has created numerous opportunities for himself as well as fellow line mates Dustin Penner and Jeff Carter.
With experienced veterans Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Jared Stoll struggling to find a rhythm offensively, a lot of pressure will be placed on the young Toffoli to continue his high level of play. Even though Richards is expected to return for game four, expect Toffoli to stay in the lineup, as he is one of the main reasons the Kings still have a chance at bringing back Lord Stanley’s Cup to the City of Angels.