With 300 points in the rear-view mirror, Viktor Arvidsson feels more like himself every day
On Monday evening in Calgary, Kevin Fiala became the eighth member of the 2014 NHL Draft class to reach 300 career points. Two days later in Edmonton, teammate Viktor Arvidsson became the ninth to do so as he collected assists on all three of the Kings’ goals in a 3-1 win over Edmonton.
If he were a youth hockey player here in the United States, Arvidsson’s performance would have earned him a playmaker patch in the mail from USA Hockey. In the NHL, it’s simply a good night’s work for a player who has become an important part of the LA Kings’ identity.
While we’ve seen a full-strength Viktor Arvidsson of late, this season hasn’t always been the case for a player coming back from offseason back surgery. Arvidsson missed the entire exhibition season and spent the first part of training camp skating on his own as he rehabbed and recovered from his injury. At one point, opening night seemed like a long shot, but Arvidsson was back in the lineup, even if he didn’t feel like 100 percent himself.
“He only played in the last exhibition, right, he didn’t have any of the black and white games, he didn’t have any of the first exhibition games, so basically nine opportunities to play that didn’t happen,” Todd . McLellan said. “As he’s gotten to game 15 or 16, it’s taken a while, but he’s doing some really good things now and we need him to keep doing that.”
Although he played early in the season, Arvidsson was not himself.
He also had his share of additional setbacks, including two missed games due to illness in his early years that cost him a day here and a day there, days that added up for a player already behind in the time to recover speed
“I’m feeling good, I’m getting there, I’m definitely a bit behind from the summer,” he said. “I hadn’t really gotten to train that much, I sat out a lot for four months, I was just rehabbing, so I’m trying to get back on track. I feel like I’m getting there little by little, some days are better and some days not they’re there, but it’s definitely getting better.”
Then came Detroit, when Arvidsson said he felt like himself the most he had all season. Then it was Washington, when he got on the scoreboard with three points, impacting every goal the Kings scored as either a leading scorer or playmaker. As his plays increased, so did Arvidsson’s comfort level. Goals against Toronto and Florida followed, as did several incisive assists on the power play. Arvidsson has 13 points in his last 12 games played, including eight of eight games this month.
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A season ago, Arvidsson was not only the Kings’ best forward when it came to shot attempts and possession metrics, he was one of the best in the NHL. League-wide, the Swede led all skaters in shot attempts and ranked second in scoring chances per/60. Much of that success came from his time with regular teammates Phil Danault and Trevor Moore, as the three players formed the most consistent second line the Kings have had since a trio named Red Foreman .
In their first six games together, they fell on the wrong side of 50 percent four times in terms of controlling shot attempts. Not once in this period did they exceed 60 percent. Since that time, they’ve been under 50 percent just three times and on the right side of 60 percent six times. The good line is nice again, and a lot of that is down to Arvidsson looking like him.
“I think he completes this pairing and plays a little different, but fits the recipe of the line,” added McLellan. “The one thing he’s not afraid to shoot the puck, he gets it and shoots it, that’s a fact and the other two can play off their shot a lot of times. I think that’s really good for this line, this direct style, the other two retrieve the discs so they can complement each other.”
From the standpoint of their linemates, both Moore and Danault have been excited to have Arvidsson firing on all cylinders.
The aforementioned pair play a straight line style of hockey, with the ability to connect with most players because of it. Arvidsson adds a different element that has proven to be as good as you could ask for. Arvidsson plays with a little more risk and play than his linemates, but he does so within the structure of the team, playing responsibly while still making impactful plays.
Both Moore and Danault emphasized this quite positively when talking about their right back.
Moore – He’s an amazing player, works really hard and has all the talent in the world. I think me and Phil maybe play a little bit more in a straight line and then Arvy brings that offensive style, which he’s so good at. It’s huge for us.
danault – Yeah, you have to have a little bit more risk from an offensive player that’s going to try something, a toe drag, get open and create an offense. It’s a big, big moment and I think all good lines in the NHL are like that. You need a little bit of risk every now and then and obviously Arvy isn’t too risky, he has a very good hockey IQ and he’s good defensively as well. It went fine.
Many of those shots culminated last night in Edmonton, as Arvidsson was the facilitator for Moore’s score. Arvidsson’s game was active and energetic, showing many of his best traits. On the back end of Arvidsson’s helpers was the Thousand Oaks native, who buried a pair of excellent passes from his linemate.
“He’s just a very smart, well-rounded hockey player,” Moore said. “I think he can score when he needs to and he can make plays when he needs to, he’s shown that. I think it was his 300th point tonight, I mean, the guy is a great hockey player and I’m lucky to play with him.”
300 points is a nice milestone, but also another step on the road for Arvidsson, who has been the contributor the Kings thought they were acquiring from Nashville in the summer of 2021.
Now he’s getting physically stronger every day as he continues his comeback process, but it’s clear that many of the traits that stood out last season are showing up prominently in his game here this fall.
“I feel like on the ice, I’m good and mentally I’m making plays and I’ve been playing for so long and it gets you back really fast,” he added. “It took a little longer to get ready physically, it’s going to take a little longer, but hopefully it’s getting better and better.”
Definitely a good sign for the LA Kings as he returns to form.
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