INSIDERS. A fine Thursday to you and yours. The LA Kings skated at Wells Fargo Center at 11:00 a.m. in advance of tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers (4:00 p.m. / FOX Sports West / FOX Sports app / LA Kings Audio Network) and aligned thusly:
The vitals: Jonathan Quick left the ice first and is projected to start in goal. He’s 8-3-1 over 13 career appearances against Philadelphia with a 1.59 goals-against average, a .947 save percentage and two shutouts. His goals against average and save percentage against the Flyers are the best marks he’s compiled against any NHL team. Los Angeles is running with three righties on defense today, so Oscar Fantenberg flips to the left and Dion Phaneuf comes out of the lineup. The Phaneuf lineup change is a coach’s decision, Willie Desjardins confirmed. “I think we have lots of guys that can play. You’re always trying to find ways to get young guys in and get them to play,” he said. “I’ve been happy with our D, though. Everybody’s played well. It’s not like anybody’s not played well enough to be in the lineup.”
Desjardins also spoke before the Devils game about how he prefers to handle younger players, saying he’s always pressing for accountability. “I don’t believe you just give them ice time. I don’t believe that if they play bad you just put them out there again,” he said Tuesday. “They have to be able to go out and play, but you give them every opportunity you can, and you always try to set them up to succeed, too. If they’ve got a really bad match-up, I don’t think you get anything by putting them out against the top line where they get scored on and then they lose confidence.”
Trevor Lewis skated and is nearing a return but won’t play today. Jonny Brodzinski skated in a yellow no-contact jersey. Jeff Carter did not skate, and there’s no clear timeline on when he’ll get back in rotations with the team. “It doesn’t look like he’s going to be doing anything,” Desjardins said. “I think he’s probably still a little bit away – a ways away.”
–Their vitals: Anthony Stolarz, not goalie wunderkind Carter Hart, is projected to start in goal. The 25-year-old former second round draft pick has never faced the Kings and is 5-4-3 with a 2.86 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 17 career starts, 10 of which have taken place this season. Per Dave Isaac of the South Jersey Courier-Post, the Flyers are expected to line up with forward groups of van Riemsdyk-Giroux-Konecny, Lindblom-Couturier-Voracek, Laughton-Patrick-Simmonds and Raffl-Vorobyev-Varone with defensive pairings of Provorov-Sanheim, Hagg-Gudas and MacDonald-Gostisbehere. Oskar Lindblom was a regular linemate of Adrian Kempe’s at two World Junior Championships and appeared in national junior games with Kempe dating back to the 2011-12 season.
Philadelphia has won eight straight, a stretch in which they’ve averaged 3.75 goals per game. Their power play has connected on seven of their last 10 opportunities, though Los Angeles’ penalty kill has been on a nice run of late, having killed off eight straight. “Dave Lowry, he’s good on the penalty kill. I think he’s made a few adjustments just from watching video of things that we can do a little bit better,” Desjardins said. “And the guys are committed to it, too. You have to find ways. We’ve got different personnel on the back end now on the kill, and other guys have stepped up. A lot of times your goaltender is your best penalty killer, and our goaltenders have been good.”
–Just a few quick words on a subject continuing to evolve. Much of what the Kings do at the trade deadline will be determined by the market. It’s not clear where the market is at right now, and if I had to pick between the poles of “massive roster turnover” and “things are calming down,” I’m leaning towards the latter. This can always change on a dime. But for players on the Kings roster who potentially could be moved and might provide a handsome return, I’m getting the sense there’s a good chance several boldfaced names won’t be traded until the off-season. (TSN’s Darren Dreger spoke about this and how it relates to Jonathan Quick on Tuesday night.) This doesn’t apply to players like Carl Hagelin or Nate Thompson, who are on expiring contracts. Again, this is determined largely what the market can bear, and when we get closer to the deadline, things can and will change. But I’m less bullish on in-season heavy turnover than I am on turnover at the draft and near free agency as of 2:30 p.m. on February 7.
–I’ll have a report up this afternoon on Tyler Toffoli that probably runs contrary to what you’ve thought of him this season. It furthers some of the notes and statistics shared in yesterday’s WUWTK story. Adrian Kempe will be my guest on the LA Kings Live pre-game show. More from Willie Desjardins:
On Sean Walker:
His biggest strength is his skating ability and how he can skate and move the puck. That’s one thing we do want to do – we want to probably create some more scoring chances. That’s something we’re looking to find, ways to create more, and he’s a guy that should give us some more offense, just the way he moves and can pass the puck.
On the challenges presented by Philadelphia:
Lots of challenges. They’ve got a lot of high-end players. That’s their biggest strength. They’re good through the middle. If you look at them through the middle, they’re deep through the middle. But a lot of guys, they’ve got the ability if there’s any kind of crack that they can capitalize on it – they’re just a talented group. Probably their overall depth. They’ve got three lines that five-on-five goals, they’ve got three lines – I don’t know what they were, 33 maybe, amongst the four. One maybe was 29, the other two were 33. They have three really solid lines that are pretty even.
On any motivation to end the Flyers’ streak:
I don’t think so. For us, that win streak just tells us that they’re playing well. We know if we’re going to compete, we’ve got to find ways to win. We’re know we’re going to have to be good if we’re going to have a chance.
On Philadelphia winning eight in a row shortly after losing eight in a row:
Hockey’s a funny game sometimes. I think for them, it’s funny. Confidence is such a big part. All of a sudden you win a few games and you get confident. I think maybe it’s taken a little bit of time for the new coach and that to buy into what’s going on – I don’t know that. But I do know they’re a good team, and they’ve always had potential to run off like nine or 10 in a row.
Wouldn’t be a trip to Philly without a run up the Rocky Steps pic.twitter.com/5VQ0zzx8k0
— Daryl Evans (@DarylEvans15) February 6, 2019
–Lead photo via Len Redkoles/NHLI