Day 2 Report – McLellan On Adjusted Camp, Dubois On First 2 Days, Blake Update on Clarke

Another day, another training-camp skate.

The Kings were back at it again this morning in Melbourne for Day 2 of training camp at O’Brien Icehouse.

Camp certainly looks a bit different so far this year, at least on the front end. In years past, the Kings have typically run similar sessions between two groups during the first week of camp, running identical practice plans and drills, with scrimmage elements between the two groups in between.

This season’s schedule does not allow for that, with the group here in Australia running on a separate timeline than the players who attended Rookie Faceoff, or the group that will be getting underway in El Segundo on Thursday morning, Pacific time. Despite the circumstances, though, the coaching staff is still hoping to achieve similar results as a normal camp.

Regardless of where camp is, or how it’s structured, the Kings know they have to use these days to prepare because, well, look at the upcoming schedule.

Today is the second of two regularly-scheduled practices in Melbourne. Tomorrow is a team day off and Friday (Australia time) is a public practice, which McLellan admitted he is not sure exactly how it will go. Saturday and Sunday are games against Arizona and this group will not reconvene for practice until September 28 back at Toyota Sports Performance Center. Knowing that Friday’s practice is there, today is the last down and dirty practice for more than a week.

“I think the schedule itself and the group that we bought kind of took care of that,” McLellan said after practice today. “Building on what I said yesterday, we have 27 guys here, but for the most part, they’ve played in the league, they’re experienced. 24 skaters and most of them know the language. We can get a lot more done in an hour here than we would at home with junior-aged kids or players that haven’t been in the organization. We packed a lot into two days. We do have our Friday skate before the two games, I’m not sure how that’s going to go, it’s a different environment, but we’re still trying to get something out of that. We’ll play the two games, which will be good for us, and then we’ll worry about what happens at home when we get there.”

With that in mind, here’s how the group aligned during today’s practice. As noted in today’s primer, lines were the same as they were on Day 1 of camp.

55 – 11 – 9
12 – 24 – 33
22 – 80 – 34
91 – 46 – 61
28 – 38 – 68 – 45

44 – 8
84 – 3
5 – 53
43 – 7

29, 31, 39

Second consecutive day with that alignment, just a bit of a different focus to the practice itself. While yesterday’s practice focused more on the game going one way, the Kings structured today’s skate with a focus on the inverse.

“We started working on coming back into our end, a lot of the backchecking principles, gaps, and we got into breakouts,” McLellan added. “We’re trying to put the long part of the game together and then took it up a little bit more with board play and battles. We play in three days and the physicality is going to go up, so we’re trying to prepare them for that as well.”

Two skates down, with one more to go here in Melbourne before the games begin this weekend.

Dubois Debut
Over the last two days, we’ve gotten our first look at forward Pierre-Luc Dubois in an LA Kings jersey.

For McLellan and the coaching staff, it was their first opportunity to see a player they previously knew as an opponent. It’s clear that Dubois is a talented player and one that McLellan has been excited to see up close. So far, he’s come just about as expected.

“Very much as we expected,” McLellan said today. “Very intelligent player, he understands the game, he anticipates well, he’s got some size obviously and he’s able to use that. I think for us, the big thing is getting to know him as an individual, the type of questions he asks, how he interacts with teammates and us. Situational stuff is important and the quicker we can make it comfortable for him around everybody, the better it’ll be.”

From Dubois’ point of view, it’s two skates down with his new organization.

It’s not as if he met his new teammates yesterday – he’s been integrated with the group informally over the last month – but this week marked the first time we officially saw him on the ice as a member of the LA Kings.

“It’s been good, the coaching staff has been really helpful, but at the end of the day, it’s still hockey, it’s the same sport,” Dubois said. “They’ve sent me video, communication on the ice, video in the mornings and it’s been good. I’m sure there’s still a lot more to learn, but for now, it’s been really helpful, everybody’s been really helpful in helping me out.”

Dubois has skated alongside Kevin Fiala and Arthur Kaliyev during the first two days of camp, an extremely interesting combination. If it clicks, it could be electric. Naturally, they deserve a training camp and some game time before we make any sort of determinations on whether or not it works and we’ll give them that time.

For now, it’s an exciting start, with a focus on what’s to come.

“[Kevin’s] a great player and Arty is also a great player, has a good shot,” Dubois said. “Kevin is hard to play against, he’s so shifty out there, he can make plays happen out of nothing, so that’s going to be really exciting. Obviously, it’s fun in practice and when we do these drills, but it’ll be even better in a game.”

Blake on Brandt
Lastly, Insiders, providing an update from Kings General Manager Rob Blake on defenseman Brandt Clarke.

From speaking with Blake today, he indicated that Clarke attended the NHL’s Rookie Orientation event in the Washington, DC area and had an awkward crash into the boards during an informal 3-on-3 skate. Clarke hurt his shoulder on the fall and the injury requires him to avoid contact for 7-10 days. That timeline did not make sense with the Kings trip to Australia, as he would be ready to resume contact around this weekend, when the Kings have games in Australia, so he would not have gotten a practice in on the trip. The group here in Australia does practice on Friday, but won’t hold another full-team skate until September 28 back in El Segundo. Therefore, it made a lot more sense for Clarke to remain back in California, where he will resume skating at Toyota Sports Performance Center. Blake said that right now, the Kings expect Clarke to be back up to speed by the time this group skates again at TSPC on 9/28. Clarke could link up with the group that opens camp tomorrow back at home and could potentially even factor into exhibition games on 9/24 in Anaheim or 9/27 in Vegas. To be determined, but a good sign that this is note expected to be a serious injury.

Regarding that group in El Segundo, here’s there schedule through September 27 –

Thursday, September 21
Group A: Australia
Group C Practice: 10:00 a.m.
Group B vs. C Scrimmage: 10:50 a.m.
Group B Practice: 12:25 p.m.

Friday, September 22
Group A: Australia
Group B Practice: 10:00 a.m.
Group B vs. C Scrimmage: 10:50 a.m.
Group C Practice: 12:25 p.m.

Saturday, September 23
Group A: Australia
Group B Practice: 10:00 a.m.
Group C Practice: 11:45 a.m.

Sunday, September 24
Group A: Australia
Game Group Morning Skate: 9:30 a.m.
Non-Game Group Practice: 11:00 a.m.
Game at Anaheim: 5:00 p.m.

Monday, September 25
Group A: Australia
Group B Practice: 10:30 a.m.
Group C Practice: 12:00 p.m.

Tuesday, September 26
Day Off (all groups)

Wednesday, September 27
Group A: Off
Game Group Morning Skate: 10:00 a.m.
Non-Game Group Practice: 11:15 a.m.
Game at Vegas: 7:00 p.m.

More to follow, both from Australia and Los Angeles!

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