October 19: Quick in net; MacDermid returns; the need for results

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Saturday night, Kings-Flames, Hockey Night in Canada, Staples Center (7:00 p.m. / FOX Sports West / FOX Sports GO / LA Kings Audio Network). Most of the home team convened on the TSPC ice for an optional skate at a quarter-past 10, though no line rushes were held. The best stick-poke at a lineup, given some of the rotations we saw yesterday, is this:





— The vitals: Joakim Ryan and Nikolai Prokhorkin remained on the ice for extra work, so they’re likely out tonight. Los Angeles faced Calgary with 11 forwards and seven defensemen two weeks ago and Ryan would replace Austin Wagner were they to go that route again. Jonathan Quick left the ice first and is projected to start in goal versus the Flames, against whom he is 14-9-5 with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage with four shutouts in his career.

— Their vitals: David Rittich rides again. In his career, he’s been better against the Kings – and at Staples Center – than he was in the teams’ last meeting, going 2-0-1 with a 2.00 GAA, a .930 percentage and a shutout in all of three career games. The renowned Casey Cizikas How Is He Their Fourth Line Center Award has a few western guys on the early-season watch list, guys like Vegas’ Tomas Nosek and Calgary’s Andrew Mangiapane, the latter of whom is day-to-day and not on the current trip, which continues tomorrow night in Anaheim. Top line wing Elias Lindholm left the last game early but should be in, and Calgary appears otherwise healthy. Via Derek Wills:

— Since The Elbow, the Kings are 5-5-1 against the Flames, going 1-3-1 at Staples Center and 4-2-0 at Scotiabank Saddledome. More on Drew Doughty and Matthew Tkachuk from Lisa Dillman and Scott Cruikshank at The Athletic ($), Eric Francis at Sportsnet, and Emily Sadler at Sportsnet. Doughty and Luc Robitaille will be Scott Oake’s guests on HNIC’s After Hours following tonight’s game.

— Kurtis MacDermid, who suffered an unspecified injury in his season debut at Calgary, skated in warm-ups Thursday night and is poised to play a role in Kings-Flames Part Deux. He was active when the teams last met, and by “active” I mean “chased Tkachuk around and deterred him from going on downhill runs.” He logged two hits, was assessed a roughing minor and homed in on Milan Lucic for a hit that nearly left a crater in the ice and then fought him. He weathered a big Tkachuk hit of his own and got dinged up in an appreciably and brutally rugged role amidst a rivalry borne out of the improper use of blunt force. “Those guys are always going to come at me, but it’s nothing that I haven’t heard before,” MacDermid said. “I’m just going to go out there and do my thing and play my game, and they’re going to try to do the same thing on their side, so it’s all just part of the game.”

One of Los Angeles’ two wins was the Calgary game. And though MacDermid became a casualty of the literal sheer force of the rivalry, he wouldn’t be playing in tonight’s game if he hadn’t used his time in the American Hockey League since his prior stint to continue to build out his game. This might be repetitive at this point, but Kings developers have had their hands on the coachable and appreciated MacDermid since September, 2012 and have understood the added bits he’s been able to add to his game beyond the show of strength that will remain a constant. “I think just a little more patience, whether it’s with the puck and making plays or whether it’s standing up and trying to make a big hit. I think I learned a lot about letting the game come to me now, and that’s just about experience,” he said.

He’s not going to be a top-four defenseman, but there is something to be said – however questionable either at the time or in hindsight a number of the moves may be – about the fact that his career in the organization spans more than seven years, an era in which they traded fellow 1994-born defensemen Zac Leslie and Nick Ebert and, more recently, assigned ’92-born Paul LaDue to Ontario. There were misses, like the losses of Erik Cernak and Colin Miller, but MacDermid is playing an important role in a game tonight that won’t be played by a number of those in and around his age group.

For the second time in a season in which he’ll look to capitalize on the layers he’d added between his assignment to Ontario in January, 2018 and his recall 13 months later, he’ll have an opportunity to do so in a game that has the potential to shine a spotlight on his more extracurricular activities. And while those abilities will come in handy in a personal rivalry that has spilled outside its borders, he was also part of a strong team game against the Flames, reflected by a 21-3 shots advantage early in the second period. “I think we just got on them quickly and played our aggressive style of game and stayed within the structure. When we play it to a T, we put teams on their heels right off the bat, and that’s just what we need to do through the whole 60,” MacDermid said.

Such territorial domination won’t happen this time around. Related: The Flames employ Sam Bennett, Milan Lucic and a number of other competitive engagers that may play roles in any Doughty-Tkachuk flare-up. “The two of ‘em are going to play hard, but we need to be concerned about the 20, not the 2,” McLellan said. “Our 20 and their 20”

— Tonight concludes DEATHSTAND, the five-game sprint through the Predators, Golden Knights, Hurricanes, Sabres and Flames, a group that contains probably four teams that before the season identified as Stanley Cup contenders. So, again, there’s the balance between being satisfied in the implementation of the forecheck as viewed through possession rates, and the fact that the team has dropped three straight in regulation.

“Analytically – and I’m not a true, true believer in analytics – there are a lot of positive things with our team, but the page you look at first is always the standings, and we’re not where we’d like to be. But we also know where we are on the evolution line … so we need to get rewarded for the things we’re doing well, and we’ve got to fix the things we aren’t,” McLellan said.

McLellan referenced “trying to catch up to the modern game, right now, if you will, the pace,” noting that “usually when you’re doing that, you’re paying the price for championships, and that’s what’s happening there right now.”

But there are encouraging signs he articulated beyond the team’s impeccable standing in shotsball. “Toby went down the other day. That’s progression,” he said. “We had an extra pick in the first round, and all of a sudden he shows up and he’s further along than we all thought he was, so that’s progression. Kaliyev I think is scoring and playing a good two-way game. That’s progression. Turcotte in Wisconsin, I think he had three helpers last night. Like, we’re aware. The coaching staff and people in the organization are aware of what those kids are doing. But they are kids, and they’re not on our team, so we’ve got to just deal with the group that we have. And we can make them better. They can get better, and they can change the way they play. I think we’ve seen it already. We just need some results.”

— Tonight’s officials are referees Ian Walsh and Garrett Rank. Linesmen are Travis Gawryletz and Vaughan Rody. Pia Toscano will handle the American anthem, Carlos Loera the Canadian. Enjoy your Saturday, Insiders.

Kellie Landis/Allsport

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