Rookie Faceoff: Notes, Quotes, and Pics from Kings-Sharks

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
Morrison-Dudas-Garreffa

Bjornfot- Strand
Anderson- Spence
Sevigny- Durzi

Parik
Ingham

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…

More from Stothers on Tobias Bjornfot:

He’s just efficient. He’s not flashy, it’s 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 he’s going to throw his outlet passes and he defends pretty well too. He takes a guy on, makes a play, he’s not shy for taking a hit. If there’s anything that I can maybe want those d-men to correct, the Anderson’s and the Bjornfot’s, people are still coming to finish their checks, so you can’t just stand there and admire the thing. I know it’s not the old days where you can get your stick up and knock a guy’s teeth out, we’re not knocking anybody’s teeth out, but you can protect yourself still.

Stothers on Rasmus Kupari and Samuel Fagemo adjusting to North American hockey:

Well, it’s going to be a process for those guys. I don’t 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 they’re accustomed to. If they so choose to be playing here, they’ve got to adapt to that, and I think they will. They’re good hockey players, they’ll 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 it’s a marked improvement over last year’s camp… he probably had nowhere to go but up. It’s just a different presence that he has about himself both on and off the ice and I think it’s real impressive. You can see that he’s matured and he’s feeling good about himself, and so he should. If you’re going to pick somebody in that department, that’s the first one that comes to my mind.

Stothers on Mikey Anderson:

I really liked him, really liked him. There’s a lot to like. He always has a smile on his face and he plays hard. He’s courageous with blocking shots, he’s making plays. He’s another guy that’s 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, they’re 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.

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

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.

Thanks to longtime MM reader Augie Loya, who shared the following pictures in our Kings-Sharks Game 3 Photo Gallery:

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