Practice 11/27 – Kings Utilizing Practice Time + Lizotte Update, Grundstrom’s Elevation, Photo Dump

The Kings got back on the ice today at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo, following yesterday’s team off day.

We’re approaching the last day for a long time with this type of schedule. The Kings last played on Saturday. They’ll next play on Wednesday. After that, they’re off until Sunday. That’s one game in a span of seven days, which provides ample time for both practice and rest. The Kings have practice days today, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, with rest days yesterday and Thursday in between.

“The other day, I said this – Last year, we were begging for a two-day break, this year, we’re begging for games,” McLellan said. “That’s just the way the schedule goes but we will pay for this later on in the season.”

During the month of November, trickling into the first two days of December, the Kings have five stretches of three-plus days off in between games. From the start of December through the end of the season, the Kings will have two such stretches in total. TWO.

Those two stretches are the NHL’s mandated holiday break from December 24 – 26 and a ten-day gap around the All-Star break, which combines the NHL All-Star break and the team’s bye week, culminating in an extended opportunity in the schedule to reset. Therefore, the Kings will take the time now to focus on their game.

“For us to have today’s practice, it will not exist in January or February,” McLellan added. “We did some 1-on-1 work, long 1-on-1’s, stuff like that, where you just use up a lot of energy, but you’ve got to polish things up when you can. January and February we won’t get that time, so it’s both mental and physical right now, but it’s an odd schedule.”

One element of today’s practice was a lot of targeted work on the power play, knowing that this is the time in the schedule to do that work on the ice. Come January, that work will have to be done via video, but today, certain members of that unit were able to get out early to work on specialized focuses of the man advantage. Something Adrian Kempe was happy to get some work on now, knowing what’s coming in front of him.

“It’s nice to have a couple of days and practices, where you can go out there early, you don’t have to think about preparation already, we have couple of days before the game,” Kempe said. “It’s nice to get out there and do some extra work, talk about it with the other guys and see what they think, just stuff like that. It’s been nice.”

Kings aligned today as we saw them on Saturday, shown below –

More on an update regarding Blake Lizotte below, who has missed the last three games with an injury, with defenseman Jacob Moverare skating as the extra defenseman today, rounding out the group of 21 on the ice.

Notes –
Lizotte Update
First off, Insiders, sharing an update on forward Blake Lizotte from Head Coach Todd McLellan.

“He is healing, he’s done a real good job of it,” McLellan said today. “We play on Wednesday, I don’t know if he’ll be available, we’ll get a better indication tomorrow, but probably more likely pushing for Sunday.”

McLellan indicated that Lizotte could be a candidate for injured reserve, simply because he’s already been out of the lineup for a week and would be eligible to be placed on injured reserve should the Kings opt to do that. With a team not currently hurting for roster spots, however, not sure if that would be necessary at this time, though it is an option for the Kings if they choose to pursue it.

Lizotte skated on his own this morning, before the Kings did, and is still getting better on the track that was initially described by McLellan, back in Arizona, which was a 7-10 day timeframe, with today marking the eighth day for Lizotte. He’s progressing well and that’s what’s important right now.

As McLellan noted, not sure if we’ll see Lizotte against the Capitals on Wednesday, but it’s a good sign that we’re discussing it. If not Wednesday, he’ll be pushing for Sunday’s game against Colorado. Will look for more of a firm status as we go along.

Grundstrom’s Evolution
“Grunny knows who Grunny is. I don’t know any other way to explain it.”

That was Todd McLellan speaking today about Carl Grundstrom and his strong play both as of late, with a pair of good showings over the weekend.

Grundstrom scored in Saturday’s win over Montreal and played a season-high 14:40 in the win over Anaheim on Friday. Grundstrom hasn’t been on the ice for a goal against over the last six games and in that span, no Kings forward has been on the ice for more shots on goal, or shot attempts, on a per/60 basis. At greater than 62 percent of shot attempts controlled with Grundstrom on the ice, no Kings forward has a higher percentage of attempts for in that stretch.

It’s been that way for Grundstrom all season long, really. He leads all forwards who have played in all 19 games in those same categories over the course of the season as a whole.

Grundstrom’s done that with a few different roles, including a new one here over the last two games.

After Viktor Arvidsson’s injury, Grundstrom started the season playing with Trevor Moore and Phillip Danault but found a regular home with Blake Lizotte and Trevor Lewis on a consistent and hard-working trio. Over the last two victories, he’s flanked Pierre-Luc Dubois and Alex Laferriere, with that line combining on Grundstrom’s goal against Montreal on Saturday.

“I think Grunny adds to any line, he can go up and down, that’s what’s so good about him is he’s a utility guy,” McLellan said. “Regardless of where we put him, he finds a way to have an impact physically, with his shot, with responsibility, penalty killing now, but he gave that line that.”

McLellan added that he felt that line was the one driving the bus on Saturday, on the second half of a back-to-back, calling it a “real good night” for that unit. 12 attempts for, compared to just three against, and an 8-1 advantage in terms of scoring chances, per Natural Stat Trick.

With Lizotte currently sidelined, Grundstrom has also picked up penalty-killing responsibilities, skating on a pairing with Lewis when the Kings are playing 4-on-5.

Grundstrom said that he views penalty killing as an area where he can help the team, while also expanding his own role. It’s something he’s done here before, sometimes as a regular, sometimes on spot duty. The Kings are a team with two-way forwards aplenty throughout the lineup, so regular time on the penalty kill can be hard to come by at times. But, with a player out in Lizotte, it’s been Grundstrom who has risen to answer the call and given the Kings minutes while shorthanded.

“He just goes out and plays,” McLellan added. “We often talk about where he was five years ago to today, him grasping drills and concepts, polishing his game up and he’s come a long way. That gives us a lot of confidence to use him more and more and I’m sure he feels that too.”

Practice Photos
Lastly, Insiders, a small photo dump from today’s practice.

Lots of smiles. Vibes are good. Getting the work done, while having fun. Good sign for the Kings.

Few more storylines to come this week, Insiders!

Looking into Jordan Spence’s strong play here early in the season, as well as the team’s improvements in the defensive zone, plus a look at forward Koehn Ziemmer, who recently signed his entry-level contract with the Kings last week. Thanks as always for reading!

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