WHO: Los Angeles Kings (8-3-3) vs. Florida Panthers (10-4-1)
WHAT: NHL REGULAR-SEASON GAME
WHEN: Thursday, November 16 @ 7:30 PM Pacific
WHERE: Crypto.com Arena – Los Angeles, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: Bally Sports West – AUDIO – iHeart Radio – TWITTER: @DooleyLAK & @LAKings
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: Following a four-day, in-season break, the LA Kings are back in action this evening as they host the Florida Panthers on Thursday evening at Crypto.com Arena.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Forward Anze Kopitar led the Kings last season against the Panthers, with three points from the two games played versus Florida. Five additional players collected two points against the Panthers including forward Trevor Moore, who had a multi-point night as the Kings defeated Florida 5-4 on home ice last November.
KINGS VITALS: The Kings held an optional morning skate today, coming off a pair of full-team practice days here at home.
Goaltender Cam Talbot did not take the ice for today’s morning skate, making him tonight’s projected starter in net for the Kings. Talbot has faced the Panthers 12 times throughout his professional career, posting a 7-5-0 record, with a .918 save percentage and a 2.76 goals-against average.
The Kings are making one roster change tonight, with forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan checking into the lineup in place of forward Alex Laferriere. Assuming it’s a 1-for-1 swap, here’s how the Kings could align tonight against Florida –
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Moore
Anderson-Dolan – Dubois – Kaliyev
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
On the ice this morning was Laferriere and the recently recalled Jacob Moverare – more on the status of both players below.
PANTHERS VITALS: The Panthers are in the middle of a 3-in-4 set in the State of California, entering tonight’s contest off a 5-3 win over San Jose on Tuesday, their fifth consecutive victory overall.
After the Panthers turned to their backup goaltender in San Jose, expect to see regular starter Sergei Bobrovsky back between the pipes tonight at Crypto.com Arena. All-time versus the Kings, Bobrovsky has a record of 3-9-2 from 15 starts, with a .898 save percentage and a 3.04 goals-against average.
Per Curtis Pashelka, here’s how the Panthers aligned on Tuesday in San Jose –
Panthers lines, d-pairs pic.twitter.com/N95lBKsRwT
— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) November 15, 2023
Defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour, who have not played yet this season, are on the California trip with the team but did not play on Tuesday against San Jose. Forward Sam Bennett, who had been out since October 30, has played each of the last two games for the visitors.
Moves, Lineup Edition
As noted tonight, an expected lineup change this evening for the Kings will see forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan checking into the lineup in place of forward Alex Laferriere.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan will play tonight, with Alex Laferriere checking out.
Good chance for 28, as TM noted –
“He knows who he is, he knows what he has to do to play & he’s worked really hard. He’s going to get the opportunity tonight & we’re sure that he can make good on it.”
— Zach Dooley (@DooleyLAK) November 16, 2023
Anderson-Dolan has featured just once with the Kings this season, as he dressed in the second game of the regular season, with Arthur Kaliyev missing out due to suspension. Anderson-Dolan has gotten into three games in the AHL with the Ontario Reign, scoring twice in his most recent outing this past weekend. It’s not the goals, though, that stood out. It’s a player who took the assignment as an opportunity to show everyone his style of play, imposing it at the AHL level.
“The feedback that I got from Marco [Sturm] and his staff was that he did exactly that, again this time, when he went down there,” McLellan said this morning. “He knows who he is, he knows what he has to do to play and he’s worked really hard. He’s going get the opportunity tonight and we’re sure that he can make good on it.”
While Anderson-Dolan played on Sunday for the Reign, it’s been nearly a month since his last NHL game and he’s only played three AHL contests in that span. Not that it’s anything new for a player who played in just two of the team’s first 17 games last season.
Part of the job for a player in that spot is the ability to check in under less-than perfect circumstances and be able to perform. McLellan believes that Anderson-Dolan has that in his arsenal.
“He’s proven that he’s been able to do that, he’s very focused and committed on his craft, regardless of whether he’s in the lineup or not,” McLellan added. “He’s planning on getting better every day. I’m sure mentally it’s hard on him, te team went on a pretty good run and we didn’t flip the lineup around very much, so that couldn’t be easy. But, if there’s an individual that can handle that, it would be JAD.”
On the other end of the move is forward Alex Laferriere, who checks out for the first time as an NHL player.
McLellan made clear that the move is more about giving Anderson-Dolan a game he’s earned, as opposed to anything directly related to Laferriere’s play. The message delivered was “not to over-react or read into this”, which it could be natural for a younger player to do.
It’s been a wild first two months in Los Angeles for Laferriere, who has been playing games dating back to the Rookie Faceoff in Vegas back in mid-September. He’s played in several exhibition contests – both NHL and AHL – as well as all 14 regular-season games since. In total, he’s played 22 games by my count, coming off a season at Harvard where he played 34 in total. The heavy slate of games was the opportunity he earned with a high level of play during camp. Today, this move is another part of his process, but it’s not a reflection on the player.
“Alex has had a tremendous start to the season and he’ll have a great middle and a good end too, but this does happen, especially in his case,” McLellan said today. “If you think about his arrival, it was unpredictable, it happened quickly, he played a large number of emotional games right off the bat. His schedule is such that it’s different now than it was in college and sometimes just to take a deep breath and watch a game won’t hurt him. We’re not disappointed in him by any means, it’s just it’s time to get JAD in and unfortunately for Alex, he’s that guy but it doesn’t have to stay that way.”
These are the changes for today and we’ll see how, or it, things change moving forward.
Moves, Transaction Edition
Additionally, Insiders, a pair of roster transactions this morning.
Defenseman Tobias Bjornfot has been assigned to AHL-Ontario on a conditioning loan, with defenseman Jacob Moverare coming the other way. Moverare took morning skate with the Kings today and was on late alongside Laferriere. Moverare is a responsible and trusting player, capable of filling a third-pairing role if he is needed. He plays a simple game, is responsible defensively and has terrific hockey sense, though he’s not a player to expect a ton of offensive contribution from. Expect him to serve as the team’s seventh defensemen for now and we’ll see what happens.
For Bjornfot, it’s an opportunity for him to play some games, which have been hard to come by this season. Bjornfot played on opening night and has not dressed since, with the Kings finding comfortable pairings on the backend that they’ve used in each of the 13 games played since. Bjornfot is in his first season of waiver eligibility and the Kings clearly value the player, believing he could be claimed if placed on waivers. The conditioning loan gives him a chance to play in a minimum of three games – Ontario plays Friday, Sunday and Tuesday – with the possibility of two additional games, which would come in San Jose on 11/24 and 11/25.
Todd McLellan said that there’s not going to be a ton of expectations for Bjornfot right off the bat, and that the Kings won’t be asking a ton of questions until he’s had the chance to get his legs under him and play a couple of games. When he does ask those questions, the hope is to get feedback that mirrors that of Anderson-Dolan.
“We’ve got to give him a few days before we even ask questions, because it’s been a long time since he played a game,” McLellan said of Bjornfot. “It doesn’t matter what league you’re in or what league you’re going to, it’s not easy. He’s going to get a good chunk of games while he’s down there, we won’t ask a lot of questions early and then we’ll go and figure out how he’s feeling and what he’s doing well, what he may need help with. That’s what the staff in the American League is there for, not only to develop players for us in the future, but to develop today’s player as well, and Toby is today’s player.”
Today’s moves give Bjornfot a run at extended playing time and with Ontario playing five games in nine days, the timing makes a lot of sense.
For Moverare, reports from Ontario suggested a solid start to the season, for a player who aside from the occasional bad game, generally carries himself with a pretty steady level of play. Moverare was on the team’s trip to Australia during the preseason and scored in the game he played against Arizona. He was solid all-around in that game and the group knows him pretty well from spot duty over the last two seasons. He’ll fit in naturally and for now, he’ll serve in a seventh-defenseman role with the NHL club.
Also, Insiders, wanted to share a bit more of a lighthearted note on forward Kevin Fiala.
Fiala spent his time on Tuesday after practice going to the Children’s Hospital LA to spend time with a couple of the kids he’s committed to supporting this season. For a player who is, by his own admission, not at the level he knows he’s capable of on the ice, he’s answering the bell off the ice, as he has throughout his time in Los Angeles. A good sign of character, for a player I can note is also putting in extra work to get his game in a good place as well.
— LA Kings (@LAKings) November 16, 2023
Kings and Panthers, tonight at Crypto.com Arena as the Kings look to start reverting course on that home record. I promised you a PLD note today, but found myself already at 1700 words after today’s information…will include with a bit more expansion during tomorrow’s practice report.