10/30 Preview – Potential Lineup Changes + Danault, Toffoli face former teams & Reign in Abbotsford

WHO: Los Angeles Kings (1-5-1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (2-6-0)
WHEN: Saturday, October 30 @ 1:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: STAPLES Center – Los Angeles, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: Bally Sports West – AUDIO – iHeart Radio – TWITTER: @DooleyLAK & @LAKings

TODAY’S MATCHUP: The Kings kick off a back-to-back of matinee games this weekend, with a Saturday afternoon showdown against the Montreal Canadiens.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Due to last season’s condensed schedule, the Kings haven’t faced Montreal since the 2019-20 season, and the two teams haven’t met at STAPLES Center since the 2018-19 campaign. Forward Adrian Kempe is a goal-per-game player in his career against the Canadiens, with five goals and seven points from five games played. Forward Blake Lizotte tallied two points (1-1-2) from his only career game versus Montreal.

KINGS VITALS: Considering the afternoon game, the Kings did not hold a morning skate today, in advance of the 1 PM showdown.

Without a skate, we won’t know tonight’s goaltender until closer to puck drop, though the expectation would be that we’ll see Cal Petersen and Jonathan Quick once each over the next two days. Petersen has never faced Montreal in his professional career, while Quick carries a 6-4-0 record from 10 career appearances. With a .930 save percentage, Quick’s mark is tied for his second-best against any one opponent.

Yesterday’s practice gave us the indication that the Kings could make three changes today, with defenseman Kale Clague looking likely to play and forwards Lias Andersson and Brendan Lemieux also appearing set to return to the lineup. Clague’s replacement is unknown and up front, yesterday’s alignment showed Carl Grundstrom and Gabe Vilardi as likely to be out for tonight’s game.

If he does in fact check-in, expect to see Clague run the top power-play unit for the Kings, a massive opportunity for the 23-year-old defensemen. Without Drew Doughty and Sean Walker, the latter for the remainder of the season, there is a chance for Clague to cement a role on the team as an offensive-minded defenseman, who is capable of moving and skating with the puck to create opportunites offensively.

“I think [creating offense] is a big reason why I’m here,” Clague said. “Dewy, Walks, both really good puck movers, good skaters, really smart, and I think I carry a lot of those attributes. I just want to do the best I can to make an impact, make a difference and use my assets to help the team.”

CANADIENS VITALS: Entering Thursday’s game in San Jose, the Canadiens sat where the Kings sit today – with one win from their first seven games played. After downing the Sharks, Montreal enters the action this afternoon at 2-6-0, with four points from eight contests this season.

In the absence of Carey Price, goaltender Jake Allen has been the workhorse, playing seven of the team’s first eight games. With games today and tomorrow, Montreal could split the work between Allen and backup Samuel Montembeault. All-time, Allen is 6-3-1 against the Kings, with a .947 save percentage and a 1.62 goals against average, his third-best statistics in each category versus a single opponent. Montembeault has faced the Kings twice in his young career, winning both starts, with a .887 save percentage and a 3.28 goals against average.

Per Montreal’s team account, here’s how the team lined up last time out –

Hoffman – Suzuki – Gallagher
Drouin – Dvorak – Anderson
Toffoli – Perreault – Caufield
Lehkonen – Paquette – Armia

Chiarot – Petry
Romanov – Savard
Niku – Kulak

Allen / Montembeault

Notes –

Canadian Reunion
Tonight’s game will feature forward Phillip Danault facing off against his former team.

Danault, the marquee summer signing by Los Angeles, was a key member of last season’s Montreal squad that advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. As such, Danault was a key figure during yesterday’s media availability, looking at the return of a French-Canadian born player, playing against the NHL’s lone French-Canadian team.

The Kings and Canadians will square off tomorrow, and again less than two weeks from today, getting the reunions out of the way early to Danault.

“I think it’s good to get it out of the way, but it’s also fun,” he said. “It’s a good challenge personally and as a team right now, too, but it’s good to get it out of the way.”

While there’s natural nostalgia when a player faces off against his former team, his former teammates, there’s still the matter of the task at hand. For Danault and the Kings, that task is rather large, with tomorrow’s game presenting another opportunity to get things back on track.

While most people wanted to talk about what had happened, Danault is focused on what’s ahead.

“I don’t want to think about it too much,” he said. “We’ve been trying to get a win as a team here and we’re not playing bad but just trying to focus on a win. I know we’re playing Montreal, obviously looking forward to it, but it’s going to be a big game for us tomorrow, and we want to get back on track.”

For his part, Danault has been a welcomed addition from a Kings point of view. He’s formed an effective second line with Alex Iafallo and Adrian Kempe, with the trio combining for a goal in Thursday’s defeat against Winnipeg. In that game, that line had 15 shot attempts for, compared to just one against, including a dominant margin in both scoring chances and high-danger chances.

Among forwards with at least 80 minutes at 5-on-5, Danault ranks fifth in the NHL in CF%, as one of five forwards in the league, along with Iafallo, at over 60 percent. Along with prowess in the faceoff circle and on the penalty kill, Danault has been exactly what Todd McLellan has hoped he would be, to this point.

“Phil has fit us really well,” McLellan said. “Everything about Phil’s game that [everyone] recognizes, the defensive ability, the small battles that he wins, the little plays he makes in tight, the wraps and jams offensively, but over and above that, he’s carried himself well. He carries himself with authority, and that allows others to feel comfortable, with another veteran presence in there. He’s had numerous chances offensively, those will eventually go, and not just he with the puck on his tape, but others around him that he’s created. He could easily have more offense and we’re fortunate to have him.”

Ty-ing The Knot
While Danault is the story on the Kings side, it will be Tyler Toffoli in a similar situation for the Canadiens. A Stanley Cup champion with Los Angeles, this will be Toffoli’s first game back at STAPLES Center since he was traded in February 2020.

Hear from Toffoli from yesterday at Toyota Sports Performance Center.

Reigny Day
It’s also an Ontario Reign game day, with the AHL club set to complete a back-to-back set north of the border against the Abbotsford Canucks.

The Reign skated to a 5-2 victory yesterday, with a 36-18 advantage in shots on goal. Defenseman Sean Durzi led the way with four points (2-2-4) in the victory, while forward T.J. Tynan tallied a pair of assists, to tie the league lead with eight on the season. Goaltender Matthew Villalta made it four wins from four games played with 16 saves, as he assumed the AHL’s league lead in victories on the season.

The Reign are off to a flying start overall, sitting at 5-0-1 entering tonight’s rematch against the Canucks. Ontario is one of four teams in the AHL that has yet to lose in regulation, and the team’s five wins and 11 points on the season are the most in the league, with the latter two clear of any other team in the league.

Catch tonight’s Reign game on AHLTV, with a 7 PM puck drop leaving plenty of time after the conclusion of today’s game in DTLA.

The LA Kings are undefeated in 1 PM starts so far this season, Insiders. Let’s see if they can extend that run for another day, with puck drop against Montreal coming up soon!

Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

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