LA Kings Head Coach Willie Desjardins addressed the media prior to tonight’s game in Las Vegas. Desjardins confirmed that Jack Campbell will make his return to the lineup this evening. Campbell has a 5-7-0 record, a 2.33 goals-against-average, a .923 save percentage and one shutout in NHL action this season, before he was injured on November 10. The goaltender most recently appeared in two AHL games with the Ontario Reign, posting a 1-1-0 record. Campbell is Ontario’s all-time leader in appearances by a goaltender (80) and helped lead the team to a victory over San Diego on December 22.
Desjardins also noted that he does not expect any sort of changes to tonight’s lineup, other than in net, provided there are no tweaks, injury-wise during warmups. For reference, here’s how the Kings lined up last night in Colorado:
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Kovalchuk – Carter – Toffoli
Leipsic – Kempe – Luff
Wagner – Thompson – Clifford
Forbort – Doughty
Muzzin – Walker
Phaneuf – Fantenberg
Willie Desjardins on what he’s looking to carryover from last night’s game, with the back-to-back tonight
Well, they’re similar teams really, Vegas is a quick team as well, so we’ve got to make sure we stay above a little bit. We’ve been pretty consistent, our starts have been pretty good, I think in the third, we were up a couple and we sat back a little bit. We have to do a little better job, if we have a lead, we’ve got to get up and pressure a little bit.
On lineup changes and whether he liked Kovalchuk on the Carter line and Kempe back at center
I think Kempe’s a centerman, so I just wanted to get him back into the middle. I thought, the way we were at that time, we wanted to try to get two lines that I thought could produce against anybody, so that’s why I moved Kempe up. We’ve got a little bit more depth in our lineup coming back in now, so I just thought we could do that. I thought Kempe was good in the middle.
On changes to be made from the loss against Vegas on December 29
The second period. We had a good first period against these guys last game and we had a good third period, but our second period wasn’t good enough, we got behind on it. I think they did a good job through the neutral zone, we have to be better through the neutral zone and last night, we thought we won it because of our specialty teams and that night we weren’t quite as good, so we’ve got to be good on specialty teams tonight.
On playing a team so often in such a short timespan and whether it provides any sort of advantage as a coach
I think the key in coaching is whatever happens, you have to try to make it work to your advantage. There’s kind of no sense in looking at the things that don’t work, because they’re there anyways, so you have to find things that do work. We’re familiar with them, we know what they’re going to do, I think that helps us. We’ve just been in here, so we know this crowd is going to be loud tonight, you know, there’s things like that we can take away. Saying that, they’re a good team and it’s always tough when you play good teams.
On Kempe’s progress in the faceoff circle
I think if you look at his results, that would indicate he needs to be a little better in that area and that does put a little difference and that’s why Thommy goes out sometimes. Thompson’s been good on the draws, so lots of times I have to move him and he goes with different lines too, he goes with the Carter line sometimes and takes the draws on the left side. He’s been good, he’s been versatile for us. Kempe does probably have to get a little better in that area.
On if the team’s emotion was any different last night than it was in the last game against Vegas
We need to play with emotion if we’re going to be successful. I liked our emotion the last 20 games – there’s been a couple of games that got away on us, but overall, our guys are pretty dialed in and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be tonight again.