Happy Practice Day, Insiders!
The Kings were back on the ice this morning at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo for a full-team practice in advance of tomorrow’s showdown versus the Islanders. First, a couple of updates regarding players who are injured and were not on the ice today, courtesy of Todd McLellan.
TM on Kevin Fiala – Right now, it’s short-term. We’re going to see how he reacts to his treatment. We anticipate that it will be short-term
TM on Sean Durzi – He’s feeling better, but he’s not available to play until he gets back on the ice.
McLellan added that neither player has skated since their respective injuries. So that’s the latest and off of those comments, don’t expect to see either Fiala or Durzi in action tomorrow. Once we see one of them on the ice during a practice setting, we’ll get a better sense of when they could be available for a game.
As far as today’s group, nothing necessarily indicated what tomorrow’s lineup could look like. We saw the lines skate as they were assembled versus Nashville, but we also saw those who did not play rotate in at various points. Jordan Spence and Arthur Kaliyev were involved in power-play drills, rotating in on the second unit. Jaret Anderson-Dolan took rushes throughout the bottom six. We’ll see what tomorrow morning’s skate brings and we should have a better sense regarding any potential lineup changes come the AM.
To Standings Watch, Or Not To Standings Watch
A random question around the room to kick off the week – Do You Standings Watch?
Phil Danault: A little bit, but I try not to. It can change until the end and until that point, there’s not really a reason to do it. Maybe if we’re watching for the first position, we’re 2-3 points from Vegas, but playoff-wise, we don’t know.
Blake Lizotte: Yeah I do, absolutely. I think every athlete likes to standings watch, whether you admit it or not, everyone’s kind of watching to see where teams fall and check that scoreboard each night.
Trevor Moore: We have it around [the team facilities], so I look at it, but I’m not super focused on it. We’re focused on our own destiny more than anything.
Sean Walker: Yeah, I do. I think everybody is kind of in that position, with how close the standings are. Every point is going to matter, there are no nights off right now, so we have to bring our A-game.
We’re all human and we’re all checking the scoreboard most nights. Lizotte said that he likes to remove himself from the game a bit when he goes home, so while he’s not watching games every night, he’s checking the scoreboard. Trevor Moore was in the same boat, where he sees what’s going on and takes note, even if he’s not watching every game.
If there’s a reason to watch, it’s certainly not helping this month. While the Kings are 5-0-1 over their last six games, Vegas is 6-1-0 in the same stretch of time, Seattle 4-1-1 and Edmonton is 4-2-0. Despite all of those records, the Kings are firmly in control of their own destiny, which is something that McLellan indicated when answering the question himself.
“We look all the time, yeah, but I believe that you do a lot more scoreboard watching and cheering for other teams when you don’t control your own destiny,” McLellan said. “When you’re in control of what is in front of you, you don’t have to watch, you just make sure that you do your job as well as you can and good things will happen. Right now, that’s the situation where in.”
That is indeed the situation the Kings are in. As long as they take care of their own businesss, the games around them mean less and less. With six straight games here at home, that’s exactly what they’ll look to do.
Thank you for coming to my Trev talk!
Two games under Trevor Moore’s belt since he returned to action from injury in Colorado on Thursday.
Moore began his time playing on the fourth line against the Avalanche, with a fully-healthy group in front of him. With everyone healthy, the Kings have what I suppose you could call a great problem, organizationally speaking. They have 10 players who have played in the Top 9 for extended stretches, at various points in the season, but only nine spots in which to play them. With Moore returning from injury, he was the easiest choice to start lower in the lineup, though he moved up perhaps more quickly than expected, with Fiala’s injury in Colorado.
On a personal note, Todd McLellan felt that was a good thing for Moore. He got to feel the game again before he was thrust back into a heavier-minute role right off the hop.
“I thought the way the game played out, it was unfortunate for Kevin, but for Trevor it was probably good, because he got to wade into it and then he was thrown into the fire and went back to familiar teammates.”
Moore was quick to agree.
Never one to self-promote, Moore tried to just be his hard-working self, regardless of where he’s at in the lineup. He called the opportunity to play in that role a good one and got to get a feel for the game first, before upping his workload.
“I thought it was a really good opportunity to go play on the fourth line, get some minutes there and play with two guys who are going to work hard,” he said. “Going forward, I don’t know where I’ll be, but I know that we have such a deep team that it doesn’t really matter.”
Having that type of attitude from a player who is counted upon to be a part of the team’s secondary core is key. Moore expressed frustration with not being able to be in the lineup regularly and an equal amount of excitement to be back at it, being a part of the team once more.
It hasn’t been easy for him to be away from the team and it hasn’t been easy to be on the sidelines, watching his teammates compete each and every night. While he was happy with the success they’ve had, he wants to be a part of that success, as he was in Colorado. Now, the Kings are in need of contributions from Moore, with Fiala out of the lineup and a top-six role likely open heading into tomorrow’s game versus the Islanders.
Moore is focused on getting his game back to where he knows it can be, contributing to a group in search of a playoff berth.
“I’m just happy to be out there and happy to be able to just be a part of it. We’ve got such a good team, it’s so hard to watch and not be out there. Right now, I’m just trying to find my game and contribute however I can. Work hard and be a positive presence on the ice.”
Back To School
Lastly, Insiders, a look at several NCAA-based prospects within the Kings organization who will participate in their conference’s semifinals this weekend.
Forward Alex Laferriere (Harvard – ECAC) and goaltender Erik Portillo (Michigan – Big 10) both advanced to their conference Final Four’s over the weekend. Both players are all but locks to play in the NCAA Tournament, regardless of their conference performances, but will play for conference crowns as well. Defenseman Ben Meehan (UMass-Lowell – Hockey East) also advanced to the conference semifinals, but he and the River Hawks would need to win the conference tournament in order to advance to March Madness. Jared Wright (Denver University – NCHC) is currently injured, but the Pioneers are in the semifinals as well and are NCAA Tournament locks, regardless of finish.
All four teams are in action this weekend, with the NCAA Tournament beginning next weekend across four regional sites.
Game Day tomorrow, Insiders. The New York Islanders are in town as the Kings look to extend the point streak to seven games, ideally getting back to winning ways in the process.
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