Some notes from today’s Reign practice from the cold confines of Center Ice Arena in Ontario.
–The team skated for a bit longer than usual, roughly and hour and a half, which was a good amount of time on the ice for defenseman Paul LaDue, who has missed the first two games of the series against the Gulls. On Monday he skated in red.
“Yup,” head coach Mike Stothers said when asked if he was encouraged by LaDue’s progress. “He looked OK out there today so it was a long, tougher practice. So the fact that he stayed out there for the full hour and half that we were out there, that’s a great sign.”
The coach has very much been tight-lipped on LaDue’s status which is status quo for playoff time — “I don’t even know if he’s injured,” Stothers said. Overall, the 24-year-old Kings prospect has missed four consecutive games, last playing on April 12 against Stockton in the first game he was eligible to play in after returning from the Kings.
“It’s always tough, especially in playoffs,” LaDue said. “You want to be out there but just got to keep my head on Friday and hopefully I’ll be back. We’ve got to look forward and Friday’s a big game. We need this win and it’s going to be battle. We’ve got to stay focused every day at practice here and come out hard on Friday and take over that first period.”
With the shortened best-of-5 series locked at one game apiece LaDue would be an enormous addition to the back end should he be able to play in Friday’s Game 3 in San Diego.
“That’s the goal, to get back but I’m just going to keep working hard and moving forward,” said LaDue, who registered six goals and 18 assists in 38 games with the Reign in the regular season. “We’ll see what happens but definitely hope to be back on Friday in full force with the guys.”
Both center Andrew Crescenzi (undisclosed injury) and defenseman Kurtis MacDermid did not skate. Stothers would not divulge any information on MacDermid’s status, though he was one of the only key players not on the ice. Forward Paul Bissonnette (lower-body) did not practice and is expected to be out long term, as previously reported here.
STOTHERS ON STEVENS’ PROMOTION WITH KINGS
Here’s Stothers’ take regarding the announcement of John Stevens’ promotion to head coach of the Kings:
“It’s a great opportunity for John. He’s certainly put in the time, been with the organization. He’s been a good a soldier. I think very deserving. He’s got a great hockey mind. I know it’s probably bittersweet for him because I know how close him and Darryl are. Everybody would probably like to see it under different circumstances but it’s good for John. I think it’s good for the organization. There’s some familiarity there. There’s quite a few guys you’ve played with over the years or you’ve gone through some wars with. It’s always nice to see a good person get rewarded. There’s not too many better than Big John.
MORE TO COME THIS WEEK
Had the time to speak with forwards Michael Mersch and T.J. Hensick about the Reign power play and offensive struggles from Game 2 so there will be more to come. Also, be on the lookout for a post on how the team looks to replicate a better start to games through practice drills. San Diego scored two goals in the opening five minutes of Game 2, resulting in a 2-1 win last Saturday.