WHO: Los Angeles Kings (2-1-1) @ Anaheim Ducks (3-0-0)
WHAT: NHL PRESEASON GAME
WHEN: Friday, September 29 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Pechanga Arena – San Diego, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AnaheimDucks.com – AUDIO – iHeart Radio – TWITTER: @DooleyLAK & @LAKings
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The preseason slate continues this evening as the Kings travel South to take on the Anaheim Ducks at Pechanga Arena in San Diego.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Kings dropped the preseason opener against the Ducks by a 3-2 final in overtime, at Honda Center on Sunday. Forwards Alex Laferriere and Francesco Pinelli – both expected to play tonight – scored against the Ducks in that game. Defenseman Tobias Bjornfot, who is also expected to play today, scored his first career NHL goal against the Ducks.
KINGS VITALS: Below is tonight’s expected game group against San Jose –
Forwards (13) – Martin Chromiak, Samuel Fagemo, Ryan Francis, Samuel Helenius, Hayden Hodgson, Alex Laferriere, Tyler Madden, Mikhail Maltsev, Francesco Pinelli, Akil Thomas, Alex Turcotte, T.J. Tynan, Koehn Ziemmer
Defensemen (7) – Tobias Bjornfot, Angus Booth, Brandt Clarke, Tyler Inamoto, Cole Krygier, Steven Santini, Jordan Spence,
Goaltenders (2) – Jacob Ingham, Erik Portillo
For the first time this week, we’ll see players who made the trip to Melbourne get back into game action. Four players from the Australia group – defensemen Tobias Bjornfot and Jordan Spence, along with forwards Alex Turcotte and Samuel Fagemo – will return to exhibition action this evening in San Diego. Spence skated in both games in Melbourne, while tonight will be the second preseason contest for the other three players.
For those four players, and several others in this group, this will not be unfamiliar grounds. The majority of the players on this trip have played in San Diego before, as members of the Ontario Reign, so they’re familiar with what a Friday Night down there feels like. For us, it will be unfamiliar circumstances heading down to San Diego for an NHL game, but for a large chunk of the players, it will feel right at home.
Spence & Turcotte, Making Their Mark
“I thought that some individuals that we wanted to see had really good games. I’d say Turc and Spenny had really good games. We believe they’re knocking at the door and we hope they can get there.”
Two of tonight’s expected players – Alex Turcotte and Jordan Spence – were highlighted by Kings Head Coach Todd McLellan yesterday for their performances in Australia.
For Spence, he factored into both games in Melbourne and was a standout, on and off the ice. With the “Australia native Jordan Spence” line now behind him, Spence is looking forward to the hockey part of training camp, an important two weeks for a player who is firmly competing for a spot on the Kings blueline here during training camp. There is a spot to be won, at RD3, and a we saw yesterday on a one-day basis, an injury or illness can create additional opportunity.
Spence was a standout across the two games, collecting an assist in both contests. He’s been arguably the AHL’s top offensive defenseman over the last two seasons and really committed to improving his defensive game last season as well. With the Reign, Head Coach Marco Sturm used Spence in a top-pairing role, against top players from the opposition on a nightly basis. Now, he’s producing at the NHL level and McLellan took notice.
“He’s a young, hungry player that really wants to play in the National Hockey League,” McLellan said. “He’s really close and if he keeps playing like [he did in Australia], he’s going to force his way onto the team and that’s a great thing for him.”
For Turcotte, the path is less clear, but his performance isn’t showing it any lack of clarity.
At the forward position, the Kings will carry either 12 or 13 forwards to start the season and there are 12 players on NHL contracts who figure to make up the lineup on Opening Night. That stacks the deck against a player like Turcotte a bit, who is waiver exempt, and who the Kings want playing every night, whether that be at the NHL or AHL level.
It’s an important season for Turcotte, who is now on the final year of his entry-level contract. McLellan has been impressed by early showings and knows it’s about the long game for Turcotte, more so than the immediate future.
“It’s still early, were not counting him out and we think that he can work his way into the lineup, but the most important thing for Turc is to feel good about himself and to apply his traits on a consistent basis, game after game, shift after shift,” McLellan said. “I would say try and stay healthy, but it’s not that easy, but this a big year for him, personally and for us as an organization and we want him to be a part of it for the long haul.”
Another opportunity for both players tonight to showcase themselves to Kings management, with both individuals having eyes on an NHL roster spot.
The first two games this week for the LA Kings have featured anything but consistency.
One guy who has gone against that rule, however, has been veteran forward T.J. Tynan. Tynan is the captain of the Ontario Reign when he’s in the AHL and has served as the leader of a young group here over the two exhibition games played in Anaheim and Vegas. He’ll make that three-of-three this evening, leading the group heading to San Diego for tonight’s contest.
For Tynan, there are several responsibilities that come with his game. For starters, he was the MVP of the AHL in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and he’s widely regarded as the best player at the AHL level. On an individual note, he’s expected to be the leading scorer for Ontario and a player who makes his teammates around him better. On Sunday and Wednesday, he skated between fellow veteran Charles Hudon and promising young winger Alex Laferriere. It was a strong connection, felt even during practice, as the three talented individuals get used to each other.
“I think we’re getting better, just building as much as we can,” Tynan said. “We’ve never played together, so any time you can get the reps in, I think that’s what’s most important. They’re two, incredibly talented players, who work hard, and are great players. For me, I’m just trying to find those guys as much as I can and build up that chemistry.”
Tonight, however, Tynan’s linemates will change, as Hudon is not expected to play tonight in San Diego and Laferriere could play elsewhere. At the AHL level, you’re always dealing with change and preseason in the NHL amplifies that even more. Game to game, even practice to practice, you’re likely dealing with change. Tonight, Tynan will skate with new linemates against the Ducks.
The organization features several new players this season, including Hudon and (mostly) Laferriere. In tonight’s group alone, there’s Mikhail Maltsev who joined from Colorado, Francesco Pinelli who turned pro from the OHL, Hayden Hodgson who was acquired from Philadelphia, Koehn Ziemmer who was drafted out of the WHL and Ryan Francis who is in camp on a PTO. Lots of new faces, with Tynan still getting to know his new teammates.
“I know some of the guys, I’ve played with a couple, and obviously I’ve played against a few of them for a couple years [in the AHL],” he explained. “It’s been good to get to know them on a teammate and a friendlier basis. They’re tough guys to play against, so I’m glad they’re on our side now.”
He’ll look forward to leading the way again tonight, as a familiar face in familiar circumstances. The only real difference will be a Kings logo on the front of the jersey in lieu of the Ontario Reign crest.
Lastly, Insiders, five additional roster moves were made earlier this morning.
The Kings assigned forward Kaleb Lawrence back to the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, where he will spend the 2022-23 season. Additionally, the following four players were released from their ATO or PTO with the Kings –
Nathan Burke (F)
Max Coyle (D)
Sean Tschigerl (F)
Ty Thorpe (F)
The Kings training camp roster currently stands at 57 players (32F, 18D, 7G).
We should expect to see a larger wave of transactions this weekend. Ontario Reign training camp officially opens on Monday, meaning Sunday should be the large cutdown day, coming on a team off day. Should have a decent sense this weekend of how the Kings are shaping up heading into the final week of training camp.
Kings and Ducks tonight, first of two this weekend for LA!