Back at it this morning, Insiders!
The Kings took the ice for a more extended skate this morning after they were not on the ice over the last two days. Sunday was a scheduled team off day for the group, which Todd McLellan admitted the team needed, and yesterday was the team’s annual golf tournament, with the full team hitting the links for a round of golf. Back to business today, however, with a look towards Thursday’s game against Florida.
Such is life for a team right now that is entering their quietest stretch of games this season in terms of games. It’s the opposite of this time last season in many ways. A season ago, the Kings were among the NHL’s leaders in games played in the first couple of months, with other teams catching up on the stretch run home. This year, the Kings will be the team with the stacked backend of the schedule, which means more downtime now. Six games in 21 days is certainly downtime and that’s just about as much downtime as I’ve seen in an NHL schedule, without a holiday or All-Star break.
“We went back to work today and our day was about working,” Todd McLellan said this morning. “It was about fixing a few things within our group that we needed to fix. Tomorrow, we’ll start getting prepared for Florida and then after that, we’ll kind of read react to where our group is and what we think we need to get after, but we’ll have some good practice time and we’re home for most of it.”
It will certainly come back around for the Kings, who will make up the games in December and January, where they’ll go just about every other day on average. For now, though, it’s about taking advantage of the time they have and hoping it benefits them in the long run.
“It’s great, you’ve got to take advantage of it while we can,” forward Pierre-Luc Dubois said. “There’s months where we play 16 games and we’re playing every other night, so it’s early in the season, the bodies are still good for now, but we’ve got to take advantage of all the practice we can get, all the rest we can get. The schedule is going get busy soon and nobody feels bad [for] you in January or March, when you have 16 games, everybody sees as an opportunity.”
For today, we saw similar combinations to what we saw on Saturday against Philadelphia. The Kings made a couple of adjustments up front and while there was not instant success, there is also a need to give the moves time before judging whether or not they are effective.
The Kings lineup from today is below –
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Moore
Laferriere – Dubois – Kaliyev
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
After Saturday’s game against the Flyers, McLellan indicated that 60 minutes without any practice time is probably too soon to judge whether or not the lines as currently assembled can be effective. They’ll have two practice days this week to assess whether or not they’d like to roll out the same lineup on Thursday against the Panthers, with McLellan adding today that the Kings still have some time to “go through and evaluate” in order to best make a decision for Thursday’s game.
In terms of any potential changes, McLellan was quick to highlight forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who went to the AHL for the weekend and scored two goals, turning in a pair of solid efforts, as he’s tended to go in games which he’s gone down for.
“JAD went and had a couple of real good games in Ontario, he’s worked really hard, he’s getting pretty damn close to earning an opportunity,” McLellan said today. “Plus, our game slid a little bit, so there’s reason to maybe make a change, but I can’t tell you what our lines or pairs will look like quite yet.”
One more practice day tomorrow before we get a better sense of if any additional changes could come along for Thursday’s game.
Regarding additional personnel, McLellan also provided a short update on forward Viktor Arvidsson, who remains out on a month-to-month basis. A long ways yet from playing, but always good to get an update on a key player.
“I see him walking around the rink, smiling, so that’s a real positive,” McLellan said this morning. “I think he’s taking more on as far as therapy goes, but I can tell you we haven’t even discussed putting him on the ice or getting him going in that situation.”
– Yesterday was the annual LA Kings golf. outing, the first year that the players have been able to participate since the 2019-20 season.
Monday at the course ⛳️ pic.twitter.com/sL2Z24nMvK
— LA Kings (@LAKings) November 13, 2023
While it did take up a day on the schedule, McLellan reinforced the importance of events like that to engage with fans and partners as a part of the team’s community involvement and interaction.
– McLellan was also asked about his thoughts on potential changes that are being discussed with relation to overtime rules.
Sounds like changes could be coming for NHL 3-on-3 OT. Lots of discussion about reducing puck possession, potentially by trying to make “half court” rules on circling back in your own zone.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) November 14, 2023
McLellan gave what I thought was a pretty fair take on the situation today –
“We keep trying to change the game, change the game and change the game. We play for five minutes and players are smart, they adapt to situations, so they hold onto the puck a little longer, but we only do it for five minutes. The best players in the world end up on the ice. They can control the puck as long as they want, they look for holes and try to take advantage of other teams’ mistakes, that’s how it goes. In my opinion, I don’t think they need any help doing that, they’re pretty good at it. What we didn’t know when overtime started, we didn’t figure all these things out, they learned as they go, but it doesn’t matter what we do. They’re going figure it out, they’re really smart people, these players.”
Personally, I’ve seen and heard the solutions with regards to 3-on-3 and I’m not sure that any really help things. I’ve also never really thought 3-on-3 had a problem, but then again, there’s always skepticism when changes are made and the proof will always be in the pudding. We’ll see what comes from the GM Meetings and the league has typically used lower-level professional leagues to test out new concepts and formats before introducing them at the NHL level, to see if they work. A switch from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of shootouts, achieving the desired outcome for the league. We’ll see what, if anything, comes out of this.
– Lastly, hear below from Province of Quebec native Phillip Danault on the Kings deciding to play two exhibition contests in Quebec City during the 2024 preseason. Danault is a native of the province and seemed quite excited to play near his hometown –
“I hear it’s a good market,” Danault said with a laugh. “I think it’s awesome. It’ll be good to bring the boys to kind of my hometown, not my hometown personally but it’s pretty close, so it’ll be good to see. The boys always laugh at my French, so we’ll see if they’ll laugh over there.”
More to follow here, Insiders, with notes on the penalty kill, on Pierre-Luc Dubois settling in and on forward Carl Grundstrom to follow over the next few days. A busy one for me here, so quick hitters only for today, but will have some additional substance to come in those areas.