Several roster and lineup notes in advance of tonight’s season finale against the Vegas Golden Knights (7:30 p.m. / FOX Sports West / FOX Sports app / LA Kings Audio Network):
— The vitals: Jonathan Quick will start in goal, Willie Desjardins confirmed last night. He’s 2-2-1 in five career regular season games against the Golden Knights with a 2.80 goals-against average a and a .919 save percentage. Desjardins also confirmed that Jonny Brodzinski will be out of the lineup, thus ending his season with two goals and three points in 13 games. Brodzinski, a UFA Group VI free agent who did not accrue enough NHL action since making his professional debut, suffered a shoulder injury during the preseason that deferred and shortened a campaign in which an opportunity to earn additional ice time presented itself. These types of late-season lineup decisions are not easy for coaches to make.
“I wanted him to get a game. He’s worked hard,” Desjardins said. “It would’ve been nice to get him in there, but you look, like, you could take Wags out. Amadio’s a guy that’s coming out. But to find a spot, Grundstrom’s played pretty well. That’s the problem when you come down with getting guys in. You have to take somebody out, and it’s not that he didn’t deserve to play, but we felt other guys did as well.”
— Speaking of Amadio, he’s been reassigned to AHL-Ontario and is a candidate to play in their remaining games, Sunday versus Tucson, Wednesday at Stockton, Friday versus Stockton and Saturday at Bakersfield. He punctuated the late stages of his 2018-19 NHL season nicely, recording points in five of six games after his most recent recall and narrowly missing out on a two-point night in Anaheim when Kyle Clifford’s goal was disallowed. In 43 games with the Kings, Amadio totaled six goals, 13 points, a minus-one rating and a +1.5 CF%Rel with overall possession numbers in the black. He’s among the players who took advantage of the Land of Opportunity late in the season.
— That opens the door for former St. Cloud center Blake Lizotte’s NHL debut. Lizotte, signed earlier in the week, wasn’t expected to come out of school for another year and was ticketed for Tampa Bay’s development camp this summer but signed with Los Angeles based in part because of relationships with the organization and Brooks Bertsch, a Husky alum and college pro scout.
It has been a small time to get acquainted, but Desjardins expressed an admiration of Lizotte’s speed and grit, noting that he’s an grateful young player who’s not taking this opportunity for granted. “It’s ‘thank you,’ and ‘yeah, I’ll do my best.’ He’s good,” Desjardins said. “He just appreciates it, and he’s a kid I can see getting better.”
Lizotte skated in El Segundo earlier today with Brendan Leipsic (lower-body) and Kurtis MacDermid (upper-body), who won’t play tonight, and should see some time down the middle with Trevor Lewis and Austin Wagner. Desjardins, though, said he wasn’t beholden to any particular alignment and that players and lines may be mixed and matched as the night unfolds.
He also stressed that there are no expectations and while he’s going to try to afford Lizotte more comfortable game situations, Go Out There And Have Fun also applies.
“You’re always trying to put him in a position to succeed. They’re a tough team. They have good depth through their lineup. I’ll have to read it just to see how he’s doing, but I’m hoping he’s doing great. To me, if he got 10 minutes, that’d be a pretty good night,” he said.
“If you make a mistake, you’re probably going to go back out again the next shift.”
— It’s Game 82. End of the road. There may be some nostalgia and unsettled emotions stirred when knowing that a season will conclude that day – a position the Kings have only been in twice in the previous nine seasons. How does that affect any sort of message from Desjardins? Is there even more of an emotional message driven to the team in the final game?
“I think you do say a little bit. Not much. You might look back a little bit on the season,” Desjardins said. “I think for me it’s important how you leave the season, it just is. It’s important to me. I want to go out and play hard and I’ll pass that message on and I’ll want our group to play hard.”
— Their vitals: Marc-Andre Fleury will earn the nod in the Golden Knights’ final game before their first round playoff series opens in San Jose this week. He’s 8-4-4 in 16 career regular season games versus the Kings with a 2.25 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and three shutouts. Defenseman Jimmy Schuldt, Lizotte’s St. Cloud teammate who also signed this week will also debut – the two joked prior to signing their contracts about potentially playing their first NHL games against each other today – but beyond that, there’s no firm indication towards a potential lineup apart from the expectations that there will be “multiple lineup changes.” Also, the Las Vegas Aviators (née 51s, née Stars) will open up their swanky new ballpark in three days.
— The Devils are leading the Panthers 3-1 after two periods in Sunrise. Should they win in any fashion, the Kings would be cemented as the 30th place team, giving them the second best odds heading into Thursday’s lottery – and YOU the freedom to watch today’s game without care or worry. If New Jersey does not win that game, I’ll whip up a quick post on game scenarios impacting draft odds and God help us all.
— Tonight’s officials are referees Ghislain Hebert and Justin StPierre and linesmen Devin Berg and Bevan Mills. Pia Toscano will sing the national anthem. Tonight’s puck drop will take place at 7:46 p.m. after a pre-game ceremony honoring Anze Kopitar for reaching the 1,000 game mark. Thank you for reading, Insiders. Let’s talk soon.
— Patrick O'Neal (@Patrick_ONeal) April 7, 2019
— Lead photo via Juan Ocampo/NHLI