On Tuesday, Sep. 22, the Los Angeles Kings played their first home game of the 2015 preseason. The result was a 3-2 overtime victory over the Arizona Coyotes. The Tuesday night contest at STAPLES Center also gave Kings fans a glimpse of what may become a ‘superline’ for the team. The line featured Anze Kopitar at center, with Marian Gaborik on one wing and newly acquired Milan Lucic on the other.
The veteran trio did not score, but showed great potential even though they were not yet going full speed. That was the high-profile line, but some of the younger players showed a lot of promise in the Sep. 22 contest. Preseason games are really about evaluating the younger players in order to determine who may be ready for prime time.
The Kings forward line of Jordan Weal, Andy Andreoff and Brian O’Neill, and the line of Nick Shore, Michael Mersch and Justin Auger, were particularly effective. O’Neill and Weal each had a goal and an assist and the line finished with a collective two goals, three assists and an overall plus/minus rating of + 5. Weal was credited with the game-winning goal at 3:34 of overtime. The trio were able to get consistent pressure throughout the game.
The Shore, Mersch and Auger line also deserves credit. Mersch scored the Kings’ first goal of the game at 9:37 of the first period and the line showed great chemistry throughout the game. Since the team’s AHL affiliate is now located in Ontario, CA, Kings fans will be able to actually watch these prospects develop. For those fans worried about whether or not the Kings have some good talent in the pipeline, they needn’t worry. Despite last season’s hiccup, there is a lot of good talent here.
Splitting the Kings goaltending duties during the game, were Jhonas Enroth and Peter Budaj. With Martin Jones now in San Jose, the backup goalie position is up for grabs. Little was decided in this game, as Enroth allowed one goal on eight shots and Budaj allowed one goal on 11 shots.
Newly signed free agent defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was also in the lineup on Tuesday. Ehrhoff was credited with an assist on Weal’s game-winning goal in the overtime session which was played using the NHL’s experimental three-on-three format.
The Kings next preseason game will be a road game against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, Sep. 25. The Kings opened training camp on Friday, Sep. 18 and now have a preseason record of 2-0.
Sep 22, 2015- Final score: LAK 3, AZ 2 (OT). Final shots on goal: Kings 28, AZ 19. Power play: Kings 0-5, AZ 1-6. Three Stars of the game: #1) Jordan Weal – LAK, #2) Michael Mersch – LAK, #3) Christian Dvorak – AZ.
LA Kings forward line combinations:
LA Kings defense pairings: