WHO: Los Angeles Kings (3-3-0) vs. Anaheim Ducks (2-4-0)
WHAT: NHL PRESEASON GAME
WHEN: Saturday, October 9 @ 7:30 PM Pacific
WHERE: STAPLES Center – Los Angeles, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: Bally Sports West – AUDIO – iHeart Radio – TWITTER: @DooleyLAK & @LAKings
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: We have reached the end of the preseason, Insiders! The Kings host the Anaheim Ducks tonight for the final exhibition game of the 2021 slate, with a rematch from four days prior. Following tonight’s game, the Kings will next be in action in the regular season, on Thursday against Vegas.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Kings and Ducks conclude their exhibition slate this evening after LA skated to a 6-3 victory at Honda Center on Wednesday. After Anaheim went ahead by three goals in the first period, the Kings stormed back with six unanswered tallies to claim the victory. Forward Arthur Kaliyev led the way for the visitors with four points (3-1-4), including a hat trick, with the rookie forward expected to remain in the lineup this evening, per Todd McLellan.
KINGS VITALS: Let’s start from the net out today, shall we?
Jonathan Quick will get the start this evening for the Kings, as confirmed by McLellan during yesterday’s media availability, and all but reinforced this morning with Quick off the ice first. The veteran getting the nod this evening will leave the goaltenders on level pegging here during the preseason, with both Quick and Cal Petersen logging two full games, and one split game, during the exhibition slate. Quick is 0-1-0 with a 2.67 goals against average and a .905 save percentage from his first two appearances.
McLellan also added that the starter for Opening Night is not something he’s committed to at this time. As he has said in the past, the days of seeing a goaltender play 70 games in a season are in the past, and both Quick and Petersen will see ample playing time this season.
“Quick will play [tonight], Cal has his full game, and then we’ll sit down with Bill [Ranford] and the rest of the goaltending staff and we’ll make a decision,” McLellan said. “Both are going to play this season. The days of playing a goaltender 70 games, those are long gone. Travel is going to be different this year, so they’re both going to be really important. We play two games at home to start, I’m sure each of them is going to get a go at it.”
On the backend, we can likely expect to see what has been the Kings’ top six blueliners throughout training camp, with Drew Doughty and Alex Edler appearing likely to check back into the lineup today, after sitting out in Anaheim midweek. This morning, Doughty partnered with Mikey Anderson, while Edler partnered with Sean Walker, joining the established pairing of Tobias Bjornfot and Matt Roy. This aligns with what we’ve seen throughout camp, and what, at this juncture, we’d expect to see on opening night.
At the forward position, we got a preview of today’s groupings yesterday, which appear set to transfer over into tonight’s game. McLellan opted not to use the Top 6 on Wednesday, sparing the veterans the back-to-back games, and all six appear likely to enter back in tonight at STAPLES Center. As noted above, McLellan confirmed that Arthur Kaliyev will remain in the lineup, likely alongside Trevor Moore, who will play his first game with the Kings organization at center, building off of his successful 2021 IIHF World Championships at the position. A projected lineup for tonight is below –
Arvidsson – Kopitar – Brown
Iafallo – Danault – Kempe
Tkachev – Vilardi – Andersson
Lemieux – Moore – Kaliyev
Anderson – Doughty
Bjornfot – Roy
Edler – Walker
This lineup leaves defensemen Christian Wolanin and Austin Strand, along with forwards Carl Grundstrom, Blake Lizotte and Austin Wagner as scratches for this evening. Olli Maatta, who is recovering from injury, also will not play tonight, though he did skate this morning and is progressing towards an eventual return to availability.
Olli Maatta is progressing, but won’t play in preseason at less than 100%, per Todd McLellan. Has skated in a non-contact jersey each of last two days.
“If this was Game 3 of the playoffs, there’s a good chance he would be able to go, but he won’t play tonight.”
— Zach Dooley (@DooleyLAK) October 9, 2021
Looking Ahead, But Not Looking Ahead
We’re at that point, aren’t we?
Roster submission is due on Monday afternoon, first official regular-season practice is on Tuesday and first game of the 2021-22 season is on Thursday. It’d be pretty easy to look past today’s game for the collective group, considering what lies ahead.
At the same time though, McLellan made clear this morning that you have the mindset that anytime you put the pads on, and wear the Kings shield on your chest, you’re playing the game to win.
“I think any time you put the equipment on you want to see the end product,” he said this morning. “Some lineups are constructed differently, for different reasons, as was the one in Anaheim the other day. With this group, we have some veterans that are going to play their third game now, they’ve got to knock some of the rust off of their games and make sure they’re ready to go. This last game is always an interesting one in training camp, at least based on my experience. You get some real good performances, and sometimes you get some shotty ones. Guys are just trying to get through to Opening Night and remain healthy. I’d like to think that our guys will work on their individual games and work on their games collectively, to make sure they get what they need to get ready to play.”
McLellan touched on the subject a bit yesterday as well, noting that while the group is excited to play tonight, the overall view is on the regular season, and that’s okay. In five days, the games give out points, and the results translate to wins and losses in the standings, something I think we’re all excited for.
There is an excitement amongst the group collectively to get into the competitive games, and to get into the rhythm of the regular season.
“I’m looking forward to just getting our team,” McLellan said. “In my experience, all my years, this last game, you’re excited about playing it, but let’s get on with it, let’s get down to our team, and I think that happens a lot around the league. The players are anxious to get going, they want more reps in practice, right now we’re at five lines and eight, nine D, they want more reps, more touches, they want to get their work done quick and get going.”
TM on AK
Hear from Todd McLellan from this morning, and his thoughts on Arthur Kaliyev. McLellan has been impressed with the growth of his young winger in a lot different areas, indicating that Kaliyev’s play may have merited a longer look whether he scored in Anaheim or not.
Kaliyev has progressed in several different areas from his time with Hamilton of the OHL to now, while still profiling as a goalscorer as he continues to develop into an NHL player. McLellan touched on a few Kaliyev-related questions below.
Kings and Ducks, tonight at 7:30 PM!