1/13 Preview – Full-Team Skate Today + 3v3 Thoughts, Wing Reversal, Offense From The Blue Paint

WHO: Los Angeles Kings (20-10-8) @ Detroit Red Wings (20-16-5)
WHEN: Saturday, January 13 @ 4:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Little Caesars Arena – Detroit, MI
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: Bally Sports West – AUDIO – iHeart Radio – TWITTER: @DooleyLAK & @LAKings

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Kings will take on the Detroit Red Wings for the second time in nine days, as they conclude the season series tonight in Michigan.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Forward Adrian Kempe scored twice when these teams met nine days prior, while forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois and Alex Laferriere each tallied two assists on that night. Dating back to 2019, Kempe has six goals from his last seven games played against Detroit. Michigan native Matt Roy scored his first career goals against the Red Wings in that game earlier this month.

KINGS VITALS: After an off day yesterday, the Kings held a full-team morning skate this morning at Little Caesars Arena.

Goaltender Cam Talbot looks to be making his fourth consecutive start here in Detroit, after he was the first netminder off this morning at Little Caesars Arena. Talbot has an all-time record of 7-3-2 versus the Red Wings, with a .902 save percentage and a 2.89 goals-against average.

Today’s line rushes showed a couple of changes from how the Kings lined up in Florida on Thursday, shown below –

Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Fiala
Laferriere – Dubois – Anderson-Dolan
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Lewis

Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Clarke


For tonight, rushes showed that forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan will check in on Pierre-Luc Dubois’ line, while defenseman Brandt Clarke took rushes alongside Andreas Englund on the third defensive pairing. Clarke and forward Alex Laferriere both worked with the second power-play unit, with Laferriere providing a right-handed shot to that group, something the Kings have not had regularly this season.

RED WINGS VITALS: Detroit recently swept a three-game trip to California and brings a four-game point streak in total into tonight’s action.

Goaltender Alex Lyon has been the starter in five consecutive games for the hosts, and is expected to get the nod again here tonight. Lyon has faced the Kings twice in his professional career, including last week in Los Angeles. He brings a lifetime record of 1-1-0, with a .920 save percentage and a 2.92 goals-against average.

Per Detroit’s team account, here’s how the Red Wings lined up last time out against Edmonton on Thursday –

Expect to see former Kings defenseman Olli Maatta, who tallied an assist against his former club last week, in tonight’s lineup. Detroit forward Patrick Kane has 43 points (15-28-43) from 48 career regular-season games against the Kings. Only Dallas’ Joe Pavelski (24-29-53) has more career points against the Kings amongst active forwards than Kane.

Notes –
Overtime Woes
Over the course of their seven-game losing streak, the Kings have lost four of those games in overtime.

Getting a game into overtime isn’t bad. Especially on the road. But, when losses continue to pile up in those situations, there’s some cause for concern. On the season, the Kings have a record of 2-8-0 in overtime, the lowest winning percentage in the NHL. That record breaks down into 1-4-0 in games decided in overtime and 1-4-0 in games that go into the shootout.

“It’s a good question,” forward Kevin Fiala said, when asked about the team’s play in overtime. “3-on-3, obviously we have not had success. Just bury our chances, maybe try to get them tired, get better changes, a little bit quicker changes and try to beat them like that, if they’re more tired than us. I think maybe that’s what [other teams] have done against us lately.”

There were similar themes in speaking with several of the skaters this morning who are on the ice in those scenarios. The Kings feel that they’re getting chances. Todd McLellan said it after the Florida game as well. They’re just not going in. Trevor Moore also touched on something that Fiala did, which pertains to line changes.

In 3-on-3, it’s extremely difficult to change on the fly, because if you don’t have possession while doing it, you’re giving up at best a 3-on-2 the other way. Could be a 2-on-1 or worse. Lots of thoughts about those situations, as the Kings look to find success.

“I think we’ve just got to finish our chances, we’re getting looks,” Moore said. “Maybe along the puck a little bit more, get fresher guys out there and stuff like that, but overall, it doesn’t feel terrible, we’ve just got to get on the right side of it.”

Adrian Kempe, who had a couple of good looks on the first shift of overtime in Florida on Thursday, started with one word when asked what’s missing right now in overtime.


To a few laughs. Because, obviously, right.

“I think we’ve had a lot of chances,” Kempe added. “I think I had some good looks, PL had a breakaway that should have been a penalty, probably. We’ve had some 2-on-1’s in previous games too, that we’ve just got to score on. It’s just the way it goes right now, for us.”

To try and quantify it, metrics skating 3-on-3 don’t feel the same as 5-on-5. So, using puck possession numbers probably carries a bit less weight than at even strength. The Kings rank almost directly in the middle of the pack – 15th in the NHL – in percentage of scoring chances controlled. 19 for, 17 against. All three goals against this season at 3-on-3 have come on high-danger chances. So, you could say it’s about defending in those situations, but if the Kings buried the looks they did have, which have regularly come early in overtime, those chances don’t happen.

Overtime performance, generally speaking, is an area the Kings know they need to improve, when the situation calls for it. A focus in that area should overtime be necessary again tonight.

Reverse, Reverse
Midway through the game in Tampa Bay, forwards Trevor Moore and Kevin Fiala felt they wanted to switch things up for their line.

In an effort to spark something, Fiala and Moore switched wings from what they’d been doing, with Fiala moving to less familiar territory on the right and Moore going to the left.

“We switched in Tampa, in the middle of the game, it’s just a little bit of a different look to see how it is,” Fiala said. “I haven’t been on the right wing for a couple years now and we wanted to see how it looked.”

Lineup alterations typically come from the coaching staff, but Todd McLellan will take player feedback into consideration as well in those situations.

It’s not simply ask and receive, but McLellan saw a pair of veteran players come to the staff together with an idea to switch something up. It wasn’t one player coercing the other, but rather two players, who have both had success, wanting something together.

“They came to us and said hey, can we try this, and we would be remiss if we weren’t listening to what the players wanted,” McLellan said. “They don’t always get what they want, but they’re playing the game, they have a sense of what feels comfortable. It’s not like a veteran player intimidated a younger player and said I’m playing here, the two of them got together and said this would be best for our line, so we’re prepared to do that.”

The results were seen almost immediately.

In Tampa Bay, it was Fiala’s pass from the right wing that setup Matt Roy for the team’s second goal of the game. Against Florida, that line struck again, generating the game-opening goal off a high cycle, and it was Fiala who made a play from the right side that first got the puck on net. He spun outside, from the right-hand circle, leading to a backhanded shot on goal, with Moore eventually burying the rebound.

It’s a small change in all honesty, because Moore feels that the three of them, including Danault, have good movement and rotation anyways. But still for a team that that mired in a slump, to see a player-driven adjustment bear fruit is a good sign.

“It’s just shaking it up a little bit and getting some different looks,” Moore said. “It’s not too different honestly, just a little shakeup. We switch on the lineup sheet, but we really are interchangeable anyways, so it’s not that big a difference.”

Still, that’s goals on consecutive nights for the line that has provided the most offensive opportunities here over the last stretch of games.

Goals have been hard to come by for the Kings, regardless of situation. That much is apparent. McLellan was happy to get the offense in whatever way he could, but also to have examples of success to show the rest of the group is important as well.

“They’ve been able to provide, maybe, the most offense for our club the last two games and it was nice to see them score in and around the blue paint,” McLellan added. “It’s happened twice now, Tampa and Florida, and we did use some of those clips today so that everybody can see it.”

Now, the Kings are hopeful to see that trickle throughout the entire group.

In speaking with Adrian Kempe, he believes that his line can do a better job of executing and producing from around the net as well.

“We’ve got to sharpen up a little bit in front of the net,” Kempe added. “When we have the puck, I feel like we get some chances, but I still feel like we can be a little sharper. I can only speak for myself and I think I’ve got to be a little bit sharper. Our line is the one I watch the most and we’ve got to be sharper when we have the puck, maybe attack a little bit more and not always look for the next play all the time. We’ve got to start scoring again.”

It’s right there. The chances have been there and the Kings have shown an ability to finish in those areas before. A good night to go out and execute it.

Kings and Red Wings, 4 PM puck drop on the West Coast, 7 PM here in Detroit! Talk soon.

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