February 6: Cooling off McDavid; Mitchell talks faceoffs - LA Kings Insider

The Kings hit the ice at Toyota Sports Center earlier today for practice as they prepared for their final home game, Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers, before a seven-game road-trip.

The forward lines were as follows.

Iafallo-Kopitar-Toffoli

Pearson-Kempe-Brown

Clifford-Mitchell-Lewis

Andreoff-Amadio-Brodzinski (Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore were working in the same color-coded jerseys as this group).

Defenseman Alec Martinez again took part in the team’s defensive rotation. It was his second straight day practicing with the group after missing the last game with a lower-body injury. Coach John Stevens didn’t proclaim Martinez ready for Wednesday’s game, but struck an optimistic tone on the blueliner. Martinez noted that he was “feeling good.”

The Oilers should present the Kings with quite a challenge. Edmonton has gone 5-1-1 in its last seven games and superstar center Connor McDavid fired four goals in the Oilers’ 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in their last game.

McDavid comes into Wednesday’s game on a roll with eight points in his last three contests and the Kings need to find a way to slow him down. McDavid’s 61 points in 51 games lead the Oilers and are tied for third in the NHL. His 161 points since the start of last season lead the league.

“You have to tight check on him. It takes five guys on the ice – take away speed in the neutral zone,” defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “I know they tend to look for him and so would we if we had a guy like that. I mean our star players would want the puck in their hands to make the best plays so take away in the neutral (zone) and make him play in his own zone and that’s the best way to eliminate him from getting on the scoreboard.”

Said Martinez, “I think regardless of whether McDavid scored four or not the night before, you take the same approach. It’s no secret how good of a player is. You have to play a guy like that hard. You have to take away his time and space and regardless of what his night was before. You have to focus on shutting him down.”

Though the Kings will be on home ice and have the last change to get a favorable match-up on McDavid, all players will need to be ready to face him if they find themselves against him.

“I just think everyone has to be aware. He is going to get on the ice against other people regardless of where you’re playing,” Stevens said. “Coming out of special teams situation that’s going to be the case. We can’t just ask Drew (Doughty) and (Kopitar) to check guys like Connor McDavid. It’s the responsibility of the entire hockey team to make sure to play the game the right way.”

The Oilers also have a couple of other weapons, like young forward Leon Draisaitl who has 45 points in 47 games this season. Though Edmonton has had a disappointing season at 23-24-6, they can still have most of the same talent from last year’s group that was one win away from making the Western Conference Final.

“It’s not just McDavid. They have other people. Draisaitl is a great player. Their defense are very capable of getting involved in the play and there’s other people in their lineup, just like us when we’re playing well,” Stevens said. “They have guys like (Milan) Lucic and (Patrick) Maroon and (Zack) Kassian that can contribute … (Mark) Letestu – when they’re playing well they can beat you with their team game. Although you have to be aware of McDavid, we’re playing him but we’re playing the Edmonton Oilers and we have to give them respect. They’re well-coached. They forecheck hard and offensively they do things very well so we’re going to have to be aware of all of them.”

Here are a few more notes from practice …

Mitchell Talks Faceoffs

Torrey Mitchell has been pretty hot in the faceoff dot of late. In his last two games he has won 77.3 percent of his draws. In the Kings’ Saturday win over the Coyotes, Mitchell won 13 of 17 faceoffs. In 24 games with the Kings this season, Mitchell has won 54.5 percent of his faceoffs. Since the 2015-16 season he hasn’t held a mark below 51.6 percent.

“I take them very seriously. I try to bear down big time. It’s a big part of my game,” Mitchell said. “I don’t want to give you all my tricks. I think a couple of important … my keys are to focus on being super ready in like a really good athletic position, being strong and trying to time it the right way.”

Mitchell said that if he can win a few consecutive draws on a particular centerman, it can lend to a strong game in the circle.

“If you’re going against the same guy and you win three in a row he’s going into the fourth one overthinking things so he might be trying something new and that’s sort of when you feel like you got him,” he said.

Mitchell’s strong performance on faceoffs has fostered some trust between him and the coaching staff and helped ease the pain of not having the injured Jeff Carter’s ability in that area of the game since the first month of the season.

“He has been very helpful. He gives you another guy in a line that can feel confident and can start in their own zone. He’s been very proficient in the faceoff circle. He has done a good job on the penalty kill for us and I thought that line was really good on the forecheck. He’s a veteran guy that can skate well and plays a really good, solid team game. But faceoffs clearly with Jeff being out, I think that’s an area that he has been a big help for us since he has come on board.”

Debora Robinson/NHLI

Lecavalier Ceremony Specifics  

The Tampa Bay Lightning will retire Vincent Lecavalier’s No. 4 jersey before their upcoming Saturday home game against the Kings. The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. Pacific time and the game is scheduled to start at 4:50 p.m. Pacific time. The ceremony will also include NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

Lecavalier played 42 games with the Kings after a 2015-16 trade from the Philadelphia Flyers and scored 10 goals and notched 17 points. It was his last season in the NHL. Lecavalier played 1,037 games with the Lightning, notched 874 points and helped the organization to the 2004 Stanley Cup.

-Lead photo Andy Devlin/NHLI

 

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Jake Muzzin

#6 | 6′ 3″ | 216 lb | Age: 27

Born: Feb 21, 1989
Birthplace: Woodstock, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Muzzin was drafted in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, before signing to the Kings in 2010. He has since become the first Woodstock, Ontario professional athlete to win a major sports trophy.
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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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