Happy Saturday, Insiders!
Final day of the opening slate of three practices to begin training camp, before exhibition season begins with games tomorrow and Monday. Jared Shafran will be in San Jose for the preseason opener and I’ll be in Vegas on Monday for the second game. Expecting to see a split squad of sorts for those games, giving individuals the opportunity to showcase themselves in exhibition action. With seven preseason games available, the Kings have plenty of time to give their veterans what they need from the exhibition season, as well as give younger players the opportunity to push for roster spots and cement their roles heading into the season.
That’s 24 hours from now, however!
Today, we’ve got one last look at the same schedule we’ve seen from the past two days, beginning at 10 AM today with Group A on the ice.
Day 3 Schedule
• 10:00 a.m. – Group A Practice
• 10:50 a.m. – Scrimmage, Groups A & B
• 12:25 p.m. – Group B Practice
• 1:00 p.m. – Group C Practice
Below is how the Kings will align this morning. As you’ll see, certain lines and pairings have remained consistent over the course of the first three days of camp, while others have included constant changes. The top line with Fiala, Kopitar and Kempe has been kept intact, as has a potential bottom six, with Iafallo/Byfield/Kaliyev and Lemieux/Lizotte/Grundstrom playing together each day so far.
The second line has been in a bit of flux, due to injuries first to Viktor Arvidsson and now to Phillip Danault, who missed yesterday’s skate with a “muscle issue” and is scheduled to skate with Group C today. Per Todd McLellan, no long-term cause for concern regarding Danault. Today, that line will feature Rasmus Kupari at center and Gabe Vilardi on the right, skating alongside the lone holdover in Trevor Moore on the left. Today is Vilardi’s first opportunity to skate with that line as the Kings prepare to potentially open the season without Arvidsson, though that’s not a definite. Will provide an update later on today as to whether or not Danault returns to the ice. At this point in camp, there is zero sense in rushing any player back too quickly, so we’ll consider this to be a situation being handled cautiously and correctly until notified otherwise.
Here’s the alignment for Day 3 of camp –
Kevin Fiala – Anze Kopitar – Adrian Kempe
Alex Iafallo – Quinton Byfield – Arthur Kaliyev
Lias Andersson – Akil Thomas – Samuel Fagemo
Justin Nachbaur – Kaleb Lawrence – Tyler Madden
Sean Walker – Matt Roy
Tobias Bjornfot – Jordan Spence
Jacob Moverare – Helge Grans
Trevor Moore – Rasmus Kupari – Gabe Vilardi
Brendan Lemieux – Blake Lizotte – Carl Grundstrom
Jaret Anderson-Dolan – Samuel Helenius – Martin Chromiak
Francesco Pinelli – T.J. Tynan – Aidan Dudas
Mikey Anderson – Drew Doughty
Alex Edler – Brandt Clarke
Kim Nousiainen – Frederic Allard
Austin Wagner – Phillip Danault – James Stefan
Alan Quine – Riley Fiddler-Schultz – Jacob Doty
Nate Thompson – Taylor Ward
Cameron Gaunce – Sean Durzi
Cameron Supryka – Landon Kosior
“We’ve got two goaltenders that we believe are going to play and they’re going to fight for ice time and starts, and we believe in both of them.”
That was Todd McLellan detailing a broad overview of the goaltending position. For all the talk of camp battles, new roles and potential reworking and structuring at certain positions, the goaltending spot is likely one that will remain status quo. While Jonathan Quick seized the upper hand in April and into the postseason in May, there was a pretty evenly defined split last season between he and Cal Petersen. At times, Quick was the lead guy as he put together a fine season. Petersen had his moments as well though, as he posted a career-high 20 wins, which was important to him and if you ask his tandem partner, it’s the only stat that matters anyways.
A few words from each from the early days of training camp.
On transitioning from summer skates to structured camp practices and scrimmages
Quick – It’s a little more organized, so it kind of helps you with your reads, a little bit more structured practices, scrimmages and stuff like that. It definitely steps up a notch, guys [are playing] harder and the pace is a little higher. So those kind of adjustments, it makes reads a bit quicker.
Petersen – Yeah, I mean there’s always some rust to be shaken off with that, because even when you’re scrimmaging in the summer, guys aren’t really shooting from the point, you don’t really have to try to fight through bodies too much. There’s a little bit that goes into getting your reads and your timing back, knowing where everybody is on the ice, there’s that extra element. That’s the great thing about this format is you get to shake that off right away and get right back in the game from day one. I think that that helped last year and all the years that Todd’s been here and I think it can only help this year.
Quick on having a tighter-knit group with goaltenders, being fewer in camp
That’s something that’s natural you kind of grew up with that, there are only two goalies on the team from youth hockey right on up. There’s a level of respect for each other obviously, just because of the position we’re in and we know the ups and downs and stuff we have to deal with daily is a little different than everyone else, but at the same time, you root for each other and you want to see guys do well.
Petersen on if he feels any added pressure this season on the first year of his new contract
No, I mean the deal was set in place last year and I won’t call it a double-edged sword, but that’s just part of playing in the NHL and the opportunity that you get. I always say the pressure is a privilege and I want to be a core piece of this team. I was happy that they made a commitment to me and I want to reciprocate that commitment and elevate my play, but for me, that’s all just external stuff that can’t really play into the game. I’m just focused on this locker room and this ice and everything else will take care of itself.
Quick, Petersen and the Kings hit the ice shortly here in El Segundo! Coverage to follow later on today with a look at Day 3 of training camp, plus a look at the big-ticket acquisition from the offseason in Kevin Fiala, who has drawn great reviews from teammates and coaches alike through a couple days of camp.