(Unexpected surprises rarely happen in the sport of hockey. The Los Angeles Kings are finding out that an unexpected surprise is leading the team.
Before the season the Kings and general manager Rob Blake pulled the trigger and added winger Viktor Arvidsson and center Phillip Danault. Roster shuffling was going to happen but this shuffling resulted in the Kings having two stacked lines and a more defined top 12.
Alex Iafallo was removed from the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown but was replaced with Arvidsson. Iafallo was placed on a new second line with Adrain Kempe and Danault.
The newly formed line of Danault, Kempe, and Iafallo has exploded with new energy and scoring chances. They have created scoring chances every time on the ice and have limited the scoring chances from the opposition.
This group has taken the Kings fans by surprise, having done really well with just being put together. Kempe has been flying, Iafallo has once again found his scoring touch, and Danault has come as advertised.
Danault has been a big pickup but not only has he improved the top 6 he has helped in other ways as well. Danault has taken some pressure and minutes off of Kopitar and it has paid off as Kopitar has placed himself in the top 10 for scoring in the league.
The line of Kopitar-Brown-Arvidsson has accounted for 11 goals, 12 assists for 23 points. The line of Iafallo-Danault-Kempe has combined for 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points, giving the Kings 2 solid, efficient lines.
The bottom 6 has played well and does not look out of sync. Rasmus Kupari looks dangerous, Arthur Kaliyev is getting chances, and Brendan Lemieux is as feisty as ever.
The forward group is playing well and keeping the Kings in games by creating offense once they enter the offensive zone. When Drew Doughty and Sean Walker come back this team will once again be a force.
(photo: latimes.com; Jack Harris) (photo: nhl.com; Mike G. Morreale)