A good afternoon to you from El Segundo, Insiders. The Kings took the ice at 10:00 a.m. and showed no changes from yesterday’s alignment:
-Defensive pairings were as would be expected, given what we saw in the preseason: Forbort-Doughty, Muzzin-Martinez and Fantenberg-Folin, with Kurtis MacDermid cycling through.
-There has been an added emphasis on using sticks to disrupt plays both off the rush and, as always, on the penalty kill. This is no different from the other 30 teams, or the way the Kings have operated in the past, but there’s still a concerted effort to reinforce that. Derek Forbort will strive to continue to build on the firmness in his game that took a significant step forward, but his long reach and stick work remains a significant part of his skill set. “I’ve always been big on defending with my stick and getting as many pokes as I can,” he said. “I feel like as soon as I get a poke, then he doesn’t have the puck, and then the quicker we can get going the other way.” Forbort demonstrated his poke check while defending against a rush multiple times in practice on Tuesday; I also chatted with John Stevens and Dave Lowry about this. Should be an interesting read for those who play or are keen on the fundamentals of defending.
-Stevens, meanwhile, will continue his tenure as Los Angeles’ head coach – he previously served as the coach for four games during the 2011-12 season – with a season opener against Philadelphia on Thursday. Stevens coached the Flyers from 2006-10 and was a third round draft pick of the club in 1984. He played nine games with the Flyers over the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons as well as 279 games with the club’s AHL affiliate in Hershey before moving on to the Hartford organization. Stevens returned to Philadelphia to conclude his career with the AHL’s Phantoms between 1996-99, serving as a player-coach in his final pro season. He was an assistant coach with the Phantoms between 1998-2000 before opening his head coaching career with them from 2000-06, guiding a club that included R.J. Umberger, Patrick Sharp, Dennis Seidenberg and Joni Pitkanen – and in the playoffs, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards – to the 2005 Calder Cup championship. Context! And now the question: is Stevens removed enough from his Philadelphia days that coaching against the Flyers in the season opener means anything? “Yeah, it really is [in the past]. I’ve been here for seven years, going on my eighth year now, so it’s been a long time. Philadelphia is where I started, and I still have a home in that area, and that’s where my kids grew up, so that always feels like home to me in terms of where I raised my family. But, jeez, we’ve been through so many battles with so many rivalries in the west coast, and a lot’s happened since then, so it really is just another opponent that we’re going to try to get off to a good start against.” More Stevens quotes coming soon.
-More good stuff will come later today or tomorrow from Pierre Turgeon about using the area behind the net to generate offense.
-Each of the Kings’ first three opponents are on television tonight, and two of the three are playing against each other. Your homework tonight: flip between the Battle of Alberta (7:00 p.m. if you have the NHL package or live in Canada) and Philadelphia-San Jose (7:30; NBCSN).
Our first @FoxSportsWest game will be Saturday.
— Alex Faust (@alex_faust) October 4, 2017
-Lead photo via Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images