4/3 Preview – “We’ll See” on Danault’s status, Grundstrom Out + Time To Raise The Level, Kraken Report

WHO: Los Angeles Kings (38-25-11) vs. Seattle Kraken (31-30-13)
WHEN: Wednesday, April 3 @ 6:30 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: With eight games remaining in the regular season, the LA Kings return home to take on the Seattle Kraken.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Anze Kopitar, Blake Lizotte and Trevor Moore have each scored against Seattle this season, with each team winning once back in December. Tonight’s matchup will conclude the season series between the two clubs.

KINGS VITALS: The Kings hit the ice for an optional morning skate here today, considering the 6:30 PM puck drop tonight in Los Angeles.

Goaltender Cam Talbot was off first this morning, making him tonight’s projected starter in net against the Kraken. Talbot has faced the Kraken five times so far in his career, posting a lifetime record of 2-3-0, with a .903 save percentage and a 2.74 goals-against average.

For reference, here’s how the Kings lined up last time out –

Lots of notables surrounding today’s morning skate, which we’ll go into in further detail below.

Regarding the above combinations, there are certainly some hurdles ahead. Everyone from the group that traveled to Canada was on the ice here today at Toyota Sports Performance Center, though there are a couple of unknowns as it relates to tonight’s action. More below on where it all stands.

KRAKEN VITALS: Seattle began a three-game California roadtrip with a 4-2 win over San Jose, giving tonight’s opponent three wins in total from its last four games played.

Goaltender Joey Daccord was off first for the Kraken this morning in Los Angeles, making him Seattle’s projected starter this evening. Daccord has faced the Kings twice, with both games coming earlier this season. He’s got a record of 1-0-1, with a .963 save percentage and a 1.44 goals-against average.

Per Emerald City Hockey, here’s how the Kraken lined up on Monday in San Jose –

Seattle recalled 2022 fourth-overall draft pick Shane Wright in advance of Monday’s game and he scored in the win over San Jose. The Kraken are one of just four teams with fewer than 200 goals scored this season, with their 197 ranking ahead of only Chicago, San Jose and Anaheim.

Notes –
“We’ll See”

Jordan had his flu game and consider tonight to be the “we’ll see” game for the LA Kings.

One thing that we do know is that forward Carl Grundstrom will not play tonight for the Kings. He is still on long-term injured reserve as of this writing and Jim Hiller confirmed that it won’t be tonight for his return to the lineup off a lower-body injury.

“Carl won’t [be activated] or play, that one I’ll give you.”

Grundstrom originally suffered a lower-body injury on February 13 in Buffalo and re-joined the full group for practice in Vancouver early last week. In order for Grundstrom to be activated, the Kings would likely need to assign forward Akil Thomas and defenseman Jacob Moverare to AHL-Ontario to find the necessary salary-cap space.

For today, Grundstrom remains on long-term injured reserve, alongside forward Alex Turcotte and goaltender Pheonix Copley. Copley’s injury was thought to be season ending, while Turcotte is on LTIR until at least April 12, which would be 24 days applied retroactively to his injury date. Certainly a conversation for down the road, just not sure how far down the road it’ll be.

On to the “we’ll see” category, that group likely comes down to Phillip Danault, Akil Thomas and Jacob Moverare.

Two words that tell us such little with certainty.

First things first is the status of Danault, who missed the last two games with an upper-body injury. Jim Hiller called Danault “50/50” to play in Winnipeg, though he ultimately missed out after taking the morning skate. Danault was in the same boat here this morning, just with a different synonym used regarding his game status.

Danault has naturally been a big loss for the Kings in defeats against Calgary and Winnipeg. His absence is not the only reason the team lost, though, and the entire group will need to raise its level. Still, Danault brings fire and a competitive spirit each and every night, competing in all three zones and elevating his teammates, both as a leader and as a player.

“For sure we missed him all over the ice and he’s one of those guys that pretty consistently shows up to play hard,” Hiller said of Danault.

We’re at the time of the year when few players are playing at 100 percent, after a long season. Danault took the morning skate in Winnipeg on Monday and was a coin flip to play. He ultimately did not. Looks like a game-time decision again tonight regarding Danault.

That brings us to the status of Thomas and Moverare, who were also out beyond the regulars. Danault is likely the first player to start the trickle down. If Danault is not able to go, the Kings could go with a 12/6 or 11/7 look, with Thomas and Moverare appearing to be the ultimate decisions to be made, assuming everyone else is good to go. Look for everyone to likely take warmups and we’ll see from there how the team aligns for tonight.

Unfortunately not a ton of info here, but that’s what we’ve got for this morning. As Jim Hiller put it……we’ll see.

Raise The Level
It’s that time of the year.

Kings have eight games remaining in the regular season and it’s the time of the year to get your game in order. At this point, the team is simply focused on winning hockey games. That’s priority number one.

“Get some wins,” forward Kevin Fiala said, matter of fact. “That’s the main thing. We don’t have so many more games, so every two points count and we’re going to make it happen.”

How they’ll get there, though, is by raising the overall level of the group.

There’s little sense in dwelling on the games in Western Canada, as disappointing as the results on that trip were. The game in Calgary, specifically, was one when the Kings did not show up, but the team has to move past that. Winnipeg wasn’t perfect, but it showed a group that had moved on. The focus is onto tonight’s game against Seattle, which is the team’s game in hand over St. Louis. All the focus on two points at home here tonight.

“Obviously we wanted to win one of those three games, but the past is the past and we’ve got to move on,” defenseman Jordan Spence added. “We’re playing against the Kraken, they’re a good team, so we have to just play one game at a time, not think about it too much, the standings. If we do that, if we focus on every game, I think we’ll be just fine.”

Lots of different areas of the game were pointed out here over the last few days as things to raise.

Whether it’s playing a full 60 minutes, the little details within a game, forechecking, simplification, consistency…..the list goes on. And, they’re probably all right to some extent.

It all centers, for the Kings, on bringing the right approach and the right style of play, then executing that style of play at a high level.

“It’s the same conversations we’ve had since we came back from the All-Star break and that’s we have to play to our identity,” Jim Hiller said this morning. “When we do, we’re a really hard team to play against. When we don’t, Calgary game, then we get bad results guaranteed. We feel good, we’re back home, we’ve played really well at home since the break, so there’s nothing too specific. We don’t change the message all that much, we just know that if we do what we do, very well, then we’re a very hard team to beat.”

The Kraken are a team playing with nothing to lose. They’re outside the playoff picture, but every time the Kings and Kraken meet, it’s a game that typically trends towards a lower-scoring affair. Take that 9-8 outlier outside of the picture, and Seattle makes things difficult on their opponents.

Hiller estimated that the Kings had one scoring chance on their 20 shots on goal when the Kraken came here earlier this season.

“They make it hard on you, they box out really well, they’re deep and strong, you’ve really got to work to get to the end game,” Hiller added. “That’s been every game we’ve played them, despite that one crazy game, every other game was very, very tight.”

Eight games to go. Kings will play each of the next two nights, with four important points on the line. Time to get it done.

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