Another Practice Day, Insiders.
The Kings are currently on a season-long, seven-game homestand. It’s games and practices just about every other day. Perhaps that’s a feeling the coaches are more excited for than the players, but everyone involved is happy to have the opportunity to find their flow back in California.
Just a short twirl today, in between games, without much in terms of formal line structure or alignment. For reference, here’s how the Kings aligned during today’s skate, broken down by jersey color –
Gray: Arvidsson, Byfield, Danault, Kempe, Kopitar, Moore
White: Anderson-Dolan, Grundstrom, Iafallo, Kaliyev, Kupari, Lizotte, MacEwen, Vilardi
Black: Anderson, Doughty, Edler, Gavrikov, Roy, Spence, Walker
Goaltenders: Copley, Korpisalo
Kevin Fiala and Sean Durzi remain out injured, while the rest of the group was present and accounted for.
McLellan Talks Fourth Line, Goalie Rotation
We’ve hammered home this point, but the Kings have a lot of available options right now, especially at the forward position. Much of the change came with regards to the fourth line, which had a strong evening versus the Islanders. The stat line read 14 shot attempts for, compared to six against, for a team-leading CF% of 70 percent. Nine high-danger chances, compared to one against, shows they had the quality too, even if they didn’t score.
McLellan was highly complementary of the fourth line last night, so we’ll see if that trio gets another game together tomorrow evening. He touched on Arthur Kaliyev specifically, after he returned to the lineup following a few consecutive healthy scratches.
“I liked the fourth line [against New York], I’ve liked the fourth line lately, they’ve done a real good job with different ingredients,” McLellan said. “I thought Arthur came in and played a tremendous game. Everybody knows that he can score and shoot the puck, that’s a given, but he did good things along the boards, he rolled off and beat people to open ice, he backchecked, he was physical. It’s nice to see that and I’m happy for him because he’s a real important part of our team, and the other two played very well also.”
One thing we do know is that the Kings will continue with their rotation in net for tomorrow’s game. Pheonix Copley will get the start and the Kings won’t break up something that’s working really well right now for the sentimental reason of Joonas Korpisalo facing off against his former team.
“I don’t think it’s going to change, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, there’s no sense or need to get really sentimental,” McLellan said. “I know it’s Korpi’s former team, but Copley’s going to play, it’s the rotation we’ve been going with and we don’t need to change anything. That’s what we’re going with, we’re in a really good spot right now and we want to stay in a good spot.”
With regards to the rotation, McLellan is confident in both goaltenders and there seem to be tendencies that describe both Copley and Korpisalo, when between the pipes.
McLellan used the word “calm” yesterday evening, when answering a question about Korpisalo’s performance, both last night and over his three starts with the organization. We’ve heard that word about Copley’s game as well. McLellan believes that there are some benefits with having two goaltenders who are similar stylistically and perhaps that’s made the rotation easier and more comfortable for the group in front of them.
“Yeah, I think there is,” McLellan said. “You kind of get repetition, you get a sense of comfort and you can also tell when they’re off a little bit too and maybe you’ve got to tighten things up because it shows up in each of them. I think the answer is yeah, it does help.”
Happy For Trevor
Todd McLellan said it after last night’s win – Trevor Moore’s goal meant a lot personally to the player, but it also meant a lot to the Kings as a group.
Moore is a valuable piece for the Kings, showcased publicly by his five-year extension signed back in December. Just about a week later, Moore was taken out of the lineup due to an injury and had played just five games between the Christmas break and the beginning of March. He returned for what everyone hopes is for good in Colorado last week and buried his first goal back, his first overall since December 1, in yesterday’s win over New York.
While Moore started with a new line – skating on the fourth line with Rasmus Kupari and Zack MacEwen – he was quickly bumped back to a familiar home, with familiar linemates, where he’s skated ever since.
“Two guys who are confident and do things right all the time,” Moore said of Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson. “That makes it easy to know where they are on the ice and fit back in.”
For their part, Danault and Arvidsson were both extremely happy for their longtime linemate. They know the struggles that Moore has overcome and they know the work he’s put in to get back to that point. It was evident in their joy for their linemate when speaking on his goal.
Arvidsson – It was unbelievable. He’s been going through some stuff and it’s not fun to see your teammate struggling a little bit. Now he’s back and he’s playing well and he’s helping the team to win, so it was awesome to see him score that goal.
Danault – It felt good. It’s hard for the confidence when you come back from a big injury, play big minutes and we need him to be good too, which he was. It was a big release for him and it just was just a matter of time. It feels like forever, but it was just a matter of time. He worked hard to do the right things and I’m not surprised he scored yesterday. Well deserved and I’m happy for him.
With the Shawshank Redemption themed celebration that followed, an important goal for both player and team, no doubt about it.
— Zach Dooley (@DooleyLAK) March 15, 2023
Lastly, Insiders, checking in with some updates provided from the NHL’s general managers meetings.
Coming out today was an interesting statement as it pertains to the 2023-24 NHL Salary Cap. Initially, the salary cap was scheduled to go up by just $1 million, as it did last summer, with a look towards a larger increase for the 2024-25 season. Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated today that the salary cap could rise by as much as $4.5 million heading into next season, should finances shake out above projections. He also left open the possibility that both sides could agree to increase the cap regardless of that, by somewhere between the 1 and 4.5 figures, but that’s something that would have to be agreed upon.
When speaking on potential extensions for Joonas Korpisalo and Vladislav Gavrikov, an unknown salary cap figure was one of the factors that Kings General Manager Rob Blake mentioned as to something that would need to be sorted out. It does not sound as if there was a general takeaway, at least not publicly, but that’s a sizeable difference and something that all organizations will want to know before making commitments, both short and long-term.
Additional topics of conversation over the three days included an expanded video review for delay of game, puck over the glass, as well as for high-sticking minors and identifying the stick that caused those infractions. Also discussed were those fights that seemingly come frequently after clean hits, with talk of potentially increasing the instigator penalty in that situation from two to four minutes. Player safety, with regards to cut-resistant equipment on wrists and legs, was also brought up, as well as certain detail surrounding the Ottawa Senators ownership situation.
The league also announced that the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin on April 17, meaning that should the Kings qualify for the postseason, that would be the first day they could play.
It’s a Columbus reunion tomorrow for Gavrikov and Korpisalo, with more to follow on both players in advance of tomorrow evening’s showdown!
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