Fast starts had become the calling card of the LA Kings prospects over the first two games of the NHL Rookie Faceoff. That wasn’t the case, though, in their third and final contest of the tournament – where they went down big early, before ultimately losing 7-3 to the Sharks.
There weren’t very many lineup changes from the Kings victory in Game 2 on Sunday. Coach Mike Stothers opted to start the game with the following lineup:
Kaliyev- Kupari – Fagemo
Sodergran- JAD – Thomas
Eyssimont- Lizotte-Yantsis
Bjornfot- Strand
Anderson- Spence
Sevigny- Durzi
A few of the bright spots in the lopsided loss included a goal by Akil Thomas, the Kings ‘winning’ the second period, and Blake Lizotte, well… continuing his torrid pace in camp and solidifying the unofficial title of MVP.
We’ll have more on Lizotte in a separate article, but first some quick quotes from coach Mike Stothers and a few of the players…
None of the Kings players I spoke w/ had a good answer for today's slow start… Which was odd because they had great starts to the other 2 games.
Stutts offered perhaps the best explanation – mentioning no morning skate today, but said they have to learn to be pros, be ready.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) September 10, 2019
Stutts on @Tobiasbjornfot – "There's a quietness to his game, so I'm not sure people are going to appreciate what he does. He makes it look effortless. He's really, really good and only going to get better… He's efficient, not flashy."
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) September 10, 2019
More from Stothers on Tobias Bjornfot:
Heís just efficient. Heís not flashy, itís not always the end-to-end thing that brings you out of your seat, but you just see the calmness, the awareness that he has on the ice, where everybody is, where heís going to throw his outlet passes and he defends pretty well too. He takes a guy on, makes a play, heís not shy for taking a hit. If thereís anything that I can maybe want those d-men to correct, the Andersonís and the Bjornfotís, people are still coming to finish their checks, so you canít just stand there and admire the thing. I know itís not the old days where you can get your stick up and knock a guyís teeth out, weíre not knocking anybodyís teeth out, but you can protect yourself still.
Stothers on Rasmus Kupari and Samuel Fagemo adjusting to North American hockey:
Well, itís going to be a process for those guys. I donít know how much they even skated throughout the course of the summer, so they come over here and have one practice and the next thing you know, games are being played, and it is on a smaller surface than maybe theyíre accustomed to. If they so choose to be playing here, theyíve got to adapt to that, and I think they will. Theyíre good hockey players, theyíll figure it out.
Stothers on a player who had a good camp but may have flown under the radar:
Akil [Thomas], I really liked him. I think itís a marked improvement over last yearís camp… he probably had nowhere to go but up. Itís just a different presence that he has about himself both on and off the ice and I think itís real impressive. You can see that heís matured and heís feeling good about himself, and so he should. If youíre going to pick somebody in that department, thatís the first one that comes to my mind.
Stothers on Mikey Anderson:
I really liked him, really liked him. Thereís a lot to like. He always has a smile on his face and he plays hard. Heís courageous with blocking shots, heís making plays. Heís another guy thatís pretty mobile and I think that with him and Durzi, it adds an element to our backend where we have some guys who are puck movers, theyíre mobile and they can play the game, as well as contribute in the offensive zone. I think he’s going to be real good for us.
Mikey Anderson deflected praise when I complimented his performance over 3 games – "Feels good, but I'm not the only one out there. I played two games with Spence, and the one with Billy. They made my job so much easier and let me play my game. Hope I made their job easier too."
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) September 10, 2019
Akil Thomas – "Every game I felt more confident; every shift, more patient with the puck. it's a way faster game than junior, so being able to hang on for that one extra second to make a better play is important."
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) September 10, 2019
We'll group guys into two categories when evaluating this tournament as a whole ..
Kings best players
– Bjornfot
– Anderson
– Lizotte
Next best group
– Durzi
– Thomas
– Eyssimont
And the runaway MVP was Lizotte. As one member of mgmt put it, "Pffft. Not even close"
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) September 10, 2019
With the win, San Jose finished undefeated at the 2019 NHL Rookie Faceoff.
Here are the final standings:
San Jose Sharks 3-0
Anaheim Ducks 2-0-1 (lost in OT to SJ)
Arizona Coyotes 2-1
LA Kings 1-2
Colorado Avalanche 1-2
Vegas Golden Knights 0-3
We should have a full photo gallery up soon. ICYMI – here is the Photo Gallery from Game 2.
As we first reported here, the Arizona Coyotes are expected to host the tournament next season. Then, Los Angeles is looking to host the now annual event in September 2021.
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