Ranford on Quick's improvement; Carter preview; power play, overtime, VGK notes - LA Kings Insider

LA Kings. Vegas Golden Knights. Saturday. Un Mil Para Jefe. 1:00 p.m. Hockey Night In LA, matinee style. FOX Sports West, FOX Sports GO, LA Kings Audio Network. A few quick notes on a Friday evening:

— A flow-type drill that incorporated five-person units early in the practice did not depict any changes, though that’s mostly anecdotal and not necessarily indicative of the following game’s lineup. Wait for the song.

— Jonathan Quick doesn’t get on the ice with the team every single morning. He did today, though for optional skates – today’s was mandatory – he’s been more inclined to get his work in off-ice. “There are teams in the league right now that don’t even bring the players to the rink in the morning, they just meet at the arena in the evening,” Todd McLellan said.

Quick didn’t take the ice for either morning skate this week, which meant Goaltending Coach Bill Ranford donned the pads both mornings and El Segundo has soldiered through an ice bag shortage.

Ranford does occasionally fill in and his equipment always travels to games, home and road. If, say, lightning strikes Gila River Arena twice on Monday (you know if this were to happen it would be in Glendale) and both Quick and Jack Campbell are injured or somehow become incapacitated, he might need to at least head down to the bench. “I think with the way the league rules are structured now, I think the only way is if maybe two guys got hurt, because it’s kind of a league-mandate now. But if three goalies go down, it’s a situation where I may have to put the pads on.”

Such unexpected developments would be the inverse of the 1990 Oilers game in which both he and Pokey Reddick were injured and former NHL goalie and Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster John Garrett expeditiously ventured downstairs, signed a contract and sat with the team in a track suit as an emergency back-up while Ranford gutted it out. (I’m told he later had to give the track suit back.)

“I think that’s kind of how it went down. I twisted my ankle really bad, high ankle sprain, Pokey went in, Pokey got concussed,” Ranford said. “I had to go back in and basically just stand there, and then I think it was between the second and the third, that’s when John came down out of the broadcast booth to maybe have to go in, but they cleared Pokey and he finished out the third.”

No such training room drama has existed among this season’s Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell consortium. Last year, almost. This year, they’re just both looking to get their games in order alongside the team as six-men units. Recently, that’s been improving, and Quick’s probably even been a little bit better than his .917 November save percentage, itself a vast improvement from a disastrous October.

“When things didn’t go the way we wanted in the start of the season, the bounces weren’t going his way and he started I think just thinking too much, and we just got back to the basics,” Ranford said. “Rely on your structure, rely on your habits. It was bound to turn. He’s been really good the last five or six starts, and even there was where he gave up three-in-four but was really good. It’s starting to turn that corner a little bit, but we can’t let our foot off the gas.”

— Carts 1K! We all spoke with Jeff Carter this morning and I also connected with Mike Richards to get a sense of his friend and former teammate’s enjoyment of the game and how his drive and work ethic were instilled. Carter is an honest player, and it was his devotion to the sport that resonated with those he shared dressing rooms with. “I mean, I knew how he was in Philly,” Richards said. “He works hard, he loves hockey. He is extremely passionate about hockey. He watches hockey nightly. Even when we lived together in LA, there was a lot of hockey on TV, so he obviously had a lot of passion for it.”

McLellan has praised Carter for his demeanor amidst a challenging situation for the team, saying that he was “concerned about that coming in after hearing a little bit about last year” and the challenges he and the team faced. He also referenced Carter as “snakebit” and someone who could have “double-digit” goals with better luck that’s demonstrating strong comprehension of what he’s trying to put in place.

“To get to a thousand, you’ve done something exceptionally well,” McLellan said. “You’ve been a great player, you’ve changed with the times, you’ve been able to stay relatively healthy, you’ve been a great attitude towards the team and the game, and not everybody gets there. But the ones that do deserve to be recognized.”

More to come before a special Saturday afternoon.

— An interesting articulation of power play philosophy, and what types of “set plays” the team runs, via McLellan: “There are some concepts we put into play. Every team has a couple go-to things. We do – we name them, we call them, but if you play towards a set play in any part of our game, the odds of it happening are very, very slim. You could never put the opposition in the right spots, the sticks, the fatigue, the timing. So, you have general thoughts of what you’re working towards, and you try to play towards that. But set plays, not so much. Faceoffs, yes, but other than that, no.”

— Speaking of set plays, was that Drew Doughty long-distance shot off the glass in overtime one of them? “Nope,” McLellan said.

There was then an interesting discussion on overtime success, which has largely been maintained by Los Angeles under four different coaches. Darryl Sutter referenced a “checklist” that those he sent onto the ice in overtime were to adhere to but declined to provide specifics.

“You have to have a good engine to play in overtime because you’re getting up and down and up and down. If you’re stuck in one gear or you run out of gas quickly, that can be a lot of trouble,” McLellan said.

“Overtime, you get to know your players and you figure out who you trust in that situation. You better be able to skate, you better have a fairly good engine that can keep you on the ice longer than normal, you better be able to win a faceoff, you better be able to protect the puck and manage it without giving it up. And a lot of our guys on the team could do that. But you go with your gut, and you hope for the best.”

The length of overtime shifts is an output of players able to sustain exceptionally good motors. Alex Ovechkin is the league’s leader with a 3:39 OT shift earlier this season, while John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t far behind, according to Japers Rink.

“My old team, there’s a couple guys that had like 30 points yesterday,” McLellan said. “They seem to stay out quite long and they’re pretty good at it.”

Cody Eakin had left Vegas’ loss to Chicago early but was a full participant at practice Friday, per David Schoen of the R-J. The Golden Knights are otherwise healthy but have lost four straight (0-3-1) and will open up a back-to-back that continues at T-Mobile Arena Sunday versus Calgary.

Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

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


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.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

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


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.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

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


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.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

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


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.