INSIDERS. Good morning to you all from the base of Mount Royal. The LA Kings skated at the Bell Centre in advance of the Montreal Canadiens’ home opener (4:30 p.m. / FOX Sports West / FOX Sports app / LA Kings Audio Network) and aligned thusly:
–Jack Campbell was the first goalie to leave the ice and is projected to start in goal. Carey Price will get the nod for the Habs and is 6-2-0 with a 2.67 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in his career against Los Angeles. Expect Montreal to ice a lineup of Tatar-Danault-Gallagher, Byron-Domi-Lehkonen, Drouin-Kotkaniemi-Armia and Hudon-Peca-Shaw up front with defensive pairings of Mete-Petry, Reilly-Juulsen and Ouellet-Benn. The Canadiens will be without Jacob de la Rose (cardiac episode), former Los Angeles farmhand Nic Deslauriers (facial fracture), David Schlemko (knee) and Shea Weber (knee). All are on injured reserve.
–Because it’s Montreal’s home opener and the 1993 Stanley Cup team will be honored before the game, the opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:48 p.m. local time. In the 48-minute and 30-second lead up to puck drop, I’ll speak with both Jake Muzzin and Adrian Kempe during the LA Kings Live pre-game show, while Drew Doughty’s Iron Man streak will be recognized, Ilya Kovalchuk’s game will be dissected, and the new-look, up-tempo Canadiens will be analyzed. I’ll also be joined by Mathieu Schneider during the second intermission. Fun night ahead.
–NBCSN has also picked up the Kings-Sharks game in San Jose on December 22. This game will also be broadcast locally on FOX Sports West. Don’t be surprised to see them pick up another game in January.
–There have been an average of 7.6 goals scored per game over the last four days, and with the high-profile Toronto-Chicago and Toronto-Dallas scores, not to mention the eight goals scored by San Jose two nights ago and the 11 goals Philadelphia and Ottawa combined to score last night, John Stevens was asked about the underpinnings behind the more recent offensive bent.
“I think you’re going to decide how you want to play and the level of risk you’re happy with,” he said. “I think teams are trying to find ways to create more offense. You’re getting some young players in the game that have a lot of skill that maybe aren’t as proficient defensively that might lead to some of that, but I think it’s going to help your team in the long run. I do think teams are trying to figure out ways to have more possession, trying to figure out ways to play faster and trying to figure out ways to maybe push the envelope a little bit offensively. It may open the game up a little bit, but I think at the end of the day, every coach and every team wants to be really good defensively. You want to keep the puck out of your net, and I think the whole key is the better you are defensively, the more you have the puck and the less you’re going to give up. But certainly, if you open up the game a little bit, the D are really active in today’s game, so you might give up more off the rush, and I think you’re seeing power plays now by and large across the league are starting to execute at a higher level, which will contribute to the offense, as well.”
In a very limited sample size – there are two teams that have played only once – Los Angeles ranks 14th in the league by averaging 2.54 five-on-five goals per 60 minutes. The power play, on the other hand, has been problematic, and the Kings are one of six teams that have played multiple games and do not have a power play goal. When asked about it on yesterday, Stevens responded with a mesh of emotion and frustration over the early-season state of the man advantage. “Five-on-five, I think it’s coming along,” he said. “Power play, we’ve got to get that sorted out. I know we tried a lot of different things with Brownie going out, but we’ve just got to get it sorted out. We’ve got to simplify our mindset where there’s a little more emotion and movement with the concept of shooting the puck and getting pucks to the net with people going there, but we’ve just got to settle in and get that sorted out.”
–Stevens, on how Paul LaDue is coming along: “We think he’s a blend, a lot like Marty is. A really good defender, and if he can just play the game fast, like he has lately, and get pucks moving to speed, use his feet, that’s what we like in his game. He’s no different than any other guys that we’ve talked about. Just consistency in those areas. But he’s aright shot in our lineup, which we like, and we think he can defend well, and we think he’s got a real tenacious part of his game that allows us to play with a little more puck speed.”
-More to come from Jaret-Anderson Dolan and Adrian Kempe this afternoon. Tonight’s officials are referees Brad Meier and Graham Skilliter and linesmen Andrew Smith and Scott Driscoll. Let’s talk soon, Insiders.
The first goal scored by every team this season.👇 pic.twitter.com/YzJ1cshfwW
— NHL (@NHL) October 11, 2018