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Kings captain Anze Kopitar sings Carl Grundstrom’s praises

EL SEGUNDO — Immediate reviews on Kings young forward Carl Grundstrom are in, and they are good. Not just because he is only the second player in franchise history to score goals in his first two NHL games, either.
Grundstrom turned the trick when he scored in Saturday’s 4-2 loss at Arizona and Sunday’s 3-2 victory at Anaheim.
To team captain Anze Kopitar, the 21-year-old from Sweden has been impressive.
“Well, he’s certainly made an impact on our team and he had his name all over the two games that he played,” Kopitar said. “He’s physical, he competes and he can finish, obviously, so it’s really nice to see.”
Grundstrom sat at his locker after practice Tuesday and was told of Kopitar’s assessment. The soft-spoken Grundstrom smiled, seeming almost embarrassed to get such an analysis from the likes of Kopitar.
“Obviously, that’s real big,” said Grundstrom, who is listed at 6-foot, 201 pounds. “He’s a great player who won two Stanley Cups and, obviously, that means a lot.”
Second-year forward Alex Iafallo also sings Grundstrom’s praises.
“Yeah, he’s doing well. First two games and he’s driving to the net and getting to those scoring areas, so it’s good to see and it definitely helps give us momentum getting to the right areas and putting those in,” Iafallo said.
That all sounds good, but interim coach Willie Desjardins gives Grundstrom more than a round of applause for showing so well his first two games. He was asked Tuesday to identify what he likes, and doesn’t like, about Grundstrom.
“I don’t know about his weakness; I haven’t seen one that I would really call glaring,” said Desjardins, whose Kings (25-36-8, 58 points) will open a five-game homestand against Nashville at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Staples Center.
That in itself was a compliment. But Desjardins saw something at practice that opened his eyes even more.
“I like how he practiced,” Desjardins said. “That’s the first time I’ve really gotten a chance to see him in practice and get a good look at him. I like it. Like, he practices the right way, which is good. And I think it shows in the games.
“He’s not going to score every night for us; that’s not a fair thing to expect. But it is fair to expect him to give a good effort and he does that every shift, so I think that’s the best part of his game.”
They say for a boxer, a fight is won or lost during training camp. That’s what Desjardins means when he says Grundstrom practices the right way.
“He practices hard, he has lots of intensity,” Desjardins said. “When he does a drill, he goes all out in the drill. Like, he doesn’t go at 80 percent, he goes all out. And I think that just pays off.
“I think that’s your habit and when you get to a game, that’s your habit. And you get used to doing things at high speeds, and that’s how he plays.”
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Wagner about ready
Rookie forward Austin Wagner has missed the past four games with a lower-body injury. He practiced Tuesday and although Desjardins said he would have to wait and see how sore Wagner was post-practice, he believes there is a chance Wagner will play Thursday.
“It looked like he might be good to go,” Desjardins said.
Wagner has nine goals and seven assists in 49 games.
This and that
The numbers this season say a lot about the results. The Kings average 2.35 goals, second-fewest in the league. Their power-play success rate is 15.1 percent, which ranks 27th. Their penalty-kill success rate is 75.6, which ranks 29th. Annually one of the top defensive teams, the Kings are allowing 3.14 goals per game and only nine teams allow more. … After Thursday, the Kings will host Florida at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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