Bestinau got that-
WHO: Los Angeles Kings (35-22-9) vs. Seattle Kraken (20-38-6)
WHAT: NHL REGULAR SEASON GAME
WHEN: Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 PM Pacific
WHERE: Crypto.com Arena – Los Angeles, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: Bally Sports West – AUDIO – iHeart Radio – TWITTER: @DooleyLAK † @LAKings
TONIGHT’S MATCH: The Kings will host the Seattle Kraken for the first time in franchise history, with the first of two three-day meetings between the teams in Los Angeles.
HEAD TO HEAD: The Kings only faced the Kraken once, a 3-1 victory in Seattle. Phillip Danault scored twice in that game, with Trevor Moore providing two assists. Adrian Kempe also scored, while strikers Viktor Arvidsson, Alex Iafallo and Anze Kopitar each provided an assist.
KINGS VITAL: After what was largely a team skate yesterday during practice for the Kings, today’s morning skate was optional and very optional with the forwards.
Cal Petersen was off the ice this morning which meant he came back into the net against the Kraken tonight after two consecutive starts from Jonathan Quick. Petersen made 17 saves on 18 shots in mid-January to take the win in his only appearance against Seattle.
The Kings have welcomed defender Alex Edler and forward Viktor Arvidsson in recent weeks, although Edler will not play tonight, while defender Tobias Bjornfot may join that group tonight against Seattle.
This is how the Kings lined up yesterday, indicating tonight’s projection –
Iafallo – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Vilardi – Byfield – Kupari
Base stream – Lizotte – Kaliyev
Maatta – Stecher
Moverare – Spence
After a maintenance day yesterday, attacker Anze Kopitar returned to the group today during the morning skating. As noted yesterday, it was a maintenance day, no worries there. However, forward Brendan Lemieux suffered a “setback” according to Todd McLellan and will not be an option against Seattle tonight.
KRAKEN VITALS: Seattle has won its last two games – and three of its last four – coming into action tonight. The Kraken made several moves on the deadline and racked up numerous draft picks over the next few seasons in exchange for current NHL players, giving others the chance to play for long-term positions.
Goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer is the expected starter for the visitors tonight. All-time versus the Kings, Grubauer is 7-2-0 with a save rate of 0.952 and an average of 1.24 goals conceded. Grubauer has yet to face the Kings as a member of the Kraken.
Per Scott Malone of Root Sports Northwest, this is how the team stood in Los Angeles this morning –
#SeaKraken lines look like this with no Schwartz sign (* = new):
*Donato Wennberg Eberle
* Pouliot Borgen
— Scott Malone (@ScottMaloneTV) March 26, 2022
Striker Jaden Schwartz and defender Haydn Fleury both suffer from upper body injuries on a daily basis. Neither player is included in the rules embedded above.
six of one
Yesterday we discussed how, without the trio of Anderson, Doughty and Roy, the Kings are not necessarily a group of three pairs labeled 1, 2 and 3, but rather a group of three pairs that can be used in different ways. and at different levels depending on the game.
Certain games may dictate the increased usage of certain players, while on certain nights one player may feel it and the other may not.
Today we learned that defender Tobias Bjornfot will be back in action tonight, probably paired up with Sean Durzi. That leaves newcomer Troy Stecher to team up with veteran Olli Maatta, and the return of the youthful duo of Jacob Moverare and Jordan Spence.
“The thought process, first we believe that Toby will be good to go and we’re going to use him,” Todd McLellan said. “We think he has really good legs and we need him in the line-up, he’s an important piece now and in the future. Then we look at the rest of the players and make pairs that we think can match in the game and make decisions that way.”
Not included in tonight’s projected six is veteran defenseman Alex Edler, but he’s not considered just a healthy scratch. Edler’s return felt sudden in some ways, and in some ways it was. He never got that long series of team workouts because the team didn’t have many during the time he was trying to reintegrate himself into the lineup after two broken bones in his leg.
That, McLellan said, is why he won’t be playing tonight. He’s been admirable in his time since he got back into the lineup, but he was never really 100 percent back. McLellan called today’s decision an opportunity to get more time during training to work towards that, with Bjornfot’s newfound health and the comfort level of younger blueliners like Moverare and Spence being a contributing factor.
“Alex is just getting more reps and treatment,” McLellan said. “We’ve asked him to do something that is extremely difficult for any player, but especially for him, to come back from a broken leg, basically without any practice time or reps. Now that we’re getting healthier, we have the chance to give him a to give you a good and confident feeling and bring it up to speed.”
Good to see Bjornfot back in action, good to see Spence’s play deserves a closer look and good to see the Kings finally have enough depth to work Edler at his own pace.
Swing For The Spences
If, even just two weeks ago, you had told Jordan Spence about his role today, he would have laughed at you.
Play more than 21 and a half minutes per night, including four games of 22 minutes or more. Quarterbacking one of the team’s power play units. On select nights, lead the team in minutes.
“I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said candidly. “It’s good to see me playing for so many minutes and I want to show the coaches and everyone that I can play those minutes, I can be reliable on the ice. At the moment things are going well and I want to keep it that way.”
He has been reliable.
Spence has worked his way from a player who wasn’t even an AHL-level player every night in October to a player who is now playing and thriving in the NHL. As players have been slowly and steadily coming back into the lineup, he has kept his place on the right for now. That’s definitely one in the pro column for a just 21-year-old defender.
McLellan has seen growth in several areas when it comes to Spence. His comfort level against NHL players. His ability to contribute to the power play. His adaptation to the pace of the NHL game. His sense of belonging as an NHL player.
“He’s not that wide open,” McLellan said of Spence today, compared to his NHL debut. “I’m not sure if he or we expected him to be part of the NHL team this year and that’s nothing against Jordan, but he got his call and he’s made it right. Every night he seems to be improving at some point. area i think he understands the pace of the game he has been asked to do a power play at this level right away he gets information different from american league the pace around him 5v5 and 5-on-4. He’s adapted well. I think the sense of connection for him has grown stronger with every game he’s played with the team.”
Spence has indicated that comfort levels have increased and admitted that playing at home has helped for the most part. He also praised assistant coach Trent Yawney, who is primarily responsible for working with the defenders, for his communication skills and his influence. Several positives when it comes to the impressive rookie.
“I think it’s going pretty well so far,” Spence added. “The first game is a bit of an adjustment, it’s the first game, but there are a lot of good players on the ice with the other teams, so I just have to pay attention on the ice and just keep going from there. In terms of speed, I know I can play in this league and be a good player in the NHL. I just want to be a reliable man and just be that man.”
So far, so good in that area!
One stat that we’ve thrown in several times here at LAKI this season was the fact that the team didn’t lose consecutive matches, and this morning a version of that number was again requested during our availability with Todd McLellan.
The Kings have responded well to losses all season, both by not letting bad habits take over and by believing in better performance. That goes a long way.
“I think the situation we’re in and the leadership we’ve got and some of the past experience, either last year or earlier this year, will put an end to the streaks,” McLellan said. “I think we had a three-game one and a two-game one, but the approach to the game…I think when it comes down to it, the belief system is stronger than it has been in the past, so that helps.”
McLellan also talked about using days between games to correct certain elements of the game, along with using both positive and negative reinforcement to support players individually. There is now a secret formula, but a combination of little things that helped prevent defeats from accelerating.
Kings and Kraken, tonight from the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. Puck drop is set at 7:30 PM!