WHO: Los Angeles Kings (0-1-0) vs. Arizona Coyotes (1-0-0)
WHAT: 2023 NHL Global Series: Melbourne
WHEN: Saturday, September 23 @ 9:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Rod Laver Arena – Melbourne, Australia
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: NHL Network, ESPN+ – AUDIO – iHeart Radio – TWITTER: @DooleyLAK & @LAKings
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: Melbourne, Part 2! The Kings and Coyotes square off again this afternoon in Australia to conclude the 2023 NHL Global Series.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Kings lost their preseason opener last night, as they dropped the game by a final score of 5-3. Forward Viktor Arvidsson led the way with a multi-point night (1-1-2), while forwards Trevor Moore and Adrian Kempe also scored for the Kings in defeat. Goaltenders Pheonix Copley and David Rittich split the game in net, with Copley starting and playing the first 40 minutes.
KINGS VITALS: Expect to see several changes for the Kings today, with everyone who did not play yesterday expected to skate today. With that in mind, the following seven players will play today, as per Head Coach Todd McLellan’s post-game press conference yesterday evening.
Forwards: Jaret Anderson-Dolan Samuel Fagemo, Carl Grundstrom, Alex Turcotte
Defensemen: Tobias Bjornfot, Jacob Moverare
Goaltender: Cam Talbot
That means seven players coming out, so expect to see a different looking LA Kings team here on night two, even if several of the team’s big names will play again. With the showcase event, the thought going in is that we’ll likely see some of those bigger-named players playing in both games. Exact lineup remains to be seen, but those seven guys will play for sure.
“We’ll try and get seven new bodies into the lineup, so we’ll see a dramatically different lineup from tonight’s to tomorrow night’s,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said yesterday. “It’s going to be really good because there’ll be some younger players that are going to go in and get an opportunity to try and make their mark and make the team.”
For some players, though, they will need to go back-to-back and they’ll need to do it early in the preseason. They’ll have just three practices and one game under their belts, but for eight forwards, four defensemen and one goaltender, they’ll be playing two games in a span of 24 hours.
On paper, it’s a tough ask for players early on, but speaking last night with forward Trevor Moore, he’s actually looking forward to it, if he’s chosen to play again tonight.
“I think it’s probably good to go back-to-back,” Moore said. “Just to get those legs under you, trial by fire, just get yourself into it endurance wise and legs wise. It’s always good.”
Regardless of personnel, the Kings will be looking to make some changes an corrections from game one to game two.
Now, it’s preseason and these types of mistakes will happen. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things as long as they’re used to clean up and move forward towards the regular season.
“What we do as a staff is we go back, we’ll look at certain parts of the game, things we did well, things we didn’t do well and it will be about us,” McLellan said. “They’re a great team, they did some really good things tonight that they normally do throughout the year, but at this stage, with where we’re at, we’ll look at what we’re doing not what they’re doing.”
In the preseason, winning is about more than the scoreline. The Kings will look for more wins tonight as they prepare for the ultimate goal.
Regardless, it’s the situation at hand and the Kings will embrace it as they go. Game 2, coming later on today.
Expect to see the LA Kings debut, preseason at least, for goaltender Cam Talbot.
Talbot signed a one-year contract back on July 1 to reunite with Head Coach Todd McLellan, whom he worked with in Edmonton earlier in their respective careers. The Kings planned to get both Talbot and Pheonix Copley a game here in Australia, with David Rittich likely to be Talbot’s batterymate tonight against the Coyotes. Rittich played 20 minutes yesterday.
Talbot appears set to make his preseason debut with the Kings here tonight, in Game 2 against the Coyotes. While he’s an external acquisition, making his Kings debut, he is at the least familiar with how a McLellan-coached team plays and McLellan is familiar with Talbot’s approach between the pipes. While it’s not the same as what the Kings had a season ago in terms of familiarity, there is that common link between the two that should help ease the transition.
“I played for him for four years, and I had some of my best seasons under him,” Talbot said of McLellan. “I know what I’m going to get with him and he knows what he’s going to get from me. It was a great relationship there and I’m looking forward to building that again.”
For veterans during the exhibition season, it’s about getting what you need to be ready.
Talbot has been around this league for a long time and likely understands what he needs and what his body needs to be successful. He’s also here to compete and he’s here to win, so getting the work he needs during the preseason is important. Speaking with McLellan, he recalled fondly of his goaltender, who has come into camp healthy and ready to go.
“Talbs is a very competitive individual and he is excited about being here,” McLellan said. “He’s had some tremendous years, he’s had a couple of setbacks due to injury and right now he looks as healthy as I can remember. The fact that coaches, because Trent Yawney was with him a little bit [as well] know him, I think that helps him and he can be a little more comfortable. But, when the game starts, we all have to perform and get it done and that’ll be expected from him. He wants it that way.”
Talbot is here to compete with Pheonix Copley and David Rittich for the organization’s two roster spots in net.
Talbot is naturally the most senior of that group and has been an established starter for a number of seasons now. He’s got experience and chose Los Angeles for a variety of reasons, though the two at the top of the list was the chance to win and the chance to compete for starts. Talbot will hope to rekindle his form from his time in Minnesota from just a couple of seasons prior, removed by just a year from three straight seasons at over a .910 save percentage. Behind what figures to be as competitive a Kings team as we’ve seen in years, he’s hopeful to be able to do that.
“This team is built to win right now and I just wanted to be a part of it.”
A Chance To Prove
Beyond Talbot lies six players who you would consider to be on the younger side who are set to step into today’s action.
Of that group of six, forward Carl Grundstrom is in a category to himself, in that he appears to be more likely than not to be on the Kings roster come opening night. Grundstrom has been skating with the team’s fourth line, alongside Trevor Lewis and Blake Lizotte, as he’s earned his place in the lineup over the last few seasons. Though he did not dress yesterday, today could mark Grundstrom’s first opportunity here this fall.
Beyond Grundstrom, however, represents a group of players with something to prove.
Starting alphabetically, look at forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who spent all of lsat season at the NHL level, though he also saw several stretches out of the lineup as a healthy scratch. Anderson-Dolan is as versatile as they come – he can play both center and wing – and has shown the ability to play up and down the lineup as needed.
Also up front are forwards Samuel Fagemo and Alex Turcotte, who are both eager to prove that they could be regular roster players in the NHL. Fagemo scored a couple of goals last season in a small sample size, while Turcotte has shown a lot of promise when healthy at the AHL level. Both have NHL projections in the longer run, and both are approaching a point at where they’d like to be more and more in that picture. A good first chance for both to prove their worth.
On the backend, it’s defensemen Tobias Bjornfot and Jacob Moverare, both of whom are angling for the same, LD3 job. With Brandt Clarke missing the trip due to injury, Bjornfot and Moverare have actually partnered together on the backend, with Moverare getting a chance to play on the right. Both are more of a known commodity at this point, though we’re still trying to find Bjornfot’s eventual destination. He’s a toolsy player who remains in the mix, though he would now require waivers to be assigned to the AHL.
Kings and Coyotes, coming up in a bit from Melbourne before we head back stateside tomorrow!