With three wins in their past four games, the LA Kings are looking to close out a short four-game roadtrip with another victory. Prior to tonight’s rematch with the Minnesota Wild, coach Todd McLellan scheduled an optional morning skate. However, there were no changes to the line combos or D-pairings at yesterday’s practice and Jonathan Quick was the first goalie off the ice today.
LA Kings expected lineup for Game 8 vs. Minnesota Wild
Iafallo – Kopitar – Kempe
Athanasiou – Lizotte – Carter
Andersson – Vilardi – Brown
Grundstrom – Amadio – Moore
Anderson – Doughty
Clague – Roy
MacDermid – Walker
Other players available on the road trip:
Jaret Anderson-Dolan (activated 1/28)
Taxi squad – Boko Imama, Sammy Fagemo,
Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Mark Alt, Matt Villalta This article will be updated following McLellan’s media scrum later this morning.
Mclellan on if the upcoming four days off after tonight’s game will be a welcome break
I believe it will be. There’s been a lot of work that has gone into the start of the season, not only physically, but mentally it’s been stressful on everybody because of the the change in environment. Coming home a road trip, it’s always good to get a little bit of time. It’ll give us an opportunity to really work on our game without worrying about fatigue or burning out players, so it’ll be important practice time.
On if media should remove the word meaningless in front of exhibition games
They’re meaningless when it comes to stats and standings and all that type of stuff, but not meaningless when it comes to an organization or staff having to make decisions, getting to know players, finding out whether combinations might or might not work, to evaluate the youth that is the organization that isn’t ready to play in the NHL, but at least give them an opportunity to taste it a little bit and experience it. It gives players a sense of the intensity of the game you can’t replicate everything in practice, when it comes to physicality – especially against your own teammates. So I think there’s a necessity or a need for them. Are they meaningless? Yeah when it comes to the stats, you throw them all out when you start again. But I don’t think they’re meaningless, if that makes any sense at all.
On teams in the West that have won the first game of a two-game series so far this season, having a 3-8-1 record in the second game
I think you start all over again [in the second game]. Obviously, nobody wants to go on a and extended losing streak, so maybe that team that lost that first game, they’re intensity maybe isn’t what it was in game one. I think it’s still too early to read into any of those trends, personally. We’ll see what happens here tonight. We’ll worry about our own world, we won’t look at stats and over evaluate anything. Let’s get ourselves to play a better game than we did in game one, where we were successful.
On if he planned anything out in advance to cover during the upcoming practice time this weekend
We didn’t plan specifically for certain areas of the game. We didn’t know where we would be at, what our strengths or weaknesses would be at this time of the season. There are still areas of the game that we haven’t really got to yet – due to minimal practice time and being on the road, numerous games back-to-back. You really have to pick and choose what you want to attack on any given day. There will be a menu of things that we want to get through in our overall game – special teams, they’ve become a big factor in all of the games. It seems like there have been a lot of penalties called on a nightly basis. We’ll spend a good chunk of time there and our play in all three zones.
On if there is any aspect of the team’s game he’s a little disappointed in right now
Last year, early in the year, we had really good starts. We are able to get out of the gate and get a team on their heels. We haven’t necessarily been able to do that. We did it, I think, in St. Louis. I’m not sure you could call it that here in Minnesota the other night. I think we’re wading into games a little bit, where I think we should be diving in. Now, can we practice that? I don’t know. I think it’s more mental and executing right off the bat. That’s going to be a big part of it. The number of penalties we took, obviously they’re starting to come down a little bit. It’s still an area of concern. Are we using our legs to check or are we still reaching and hooking and holding? We want to eliminate that. But, as far as surprises, nothing dramatic at this point.
On how much his face-to-face time with individual players and the team at large has been cut down because of the protocols this year and does that make it harder to gauge morale or get a message across
I don’t think it’s been cut down that much. At home, when we’re in our practice facility, it’s easy. We have a huge area set up, that will keep set up basically all season, to host team meetings. They’re almost seamless now. Everybody shows up in their masks and we’re ready to go. On the road, we have certain areas where we can have meetings, so that’s easy. The one-on-ones, a lot of times there’s casual one-on-one conversations with individual players, when those happen now or even direct in one-on-one players, they’re not happening in offices behind closed doors. We find a big area in the arena somewhere, somewhere where we’re still within the bubble and it’s safe. We find a corner where we talk to the individual or maybe to the groups. Everything’s done now mask-wise, distancing. I don’t feel like we’ve missed out on relationship building at all to this point.
On Gabe Vilardi’s recent comments about not liking to practice face-offs
I’m not a very good golfer. My swing is awful. And if I don’t practice it, it’s not getting any better. I think there’s a way to practice, there’s a way to study, there’s a way to improve everything. Gabe has his own way of looking at things, that’s fine. My opinion might differ from that. It’ll be our job to work with Gabe to get him to improve in those areas. I’ve been around some of the best players in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to coach Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski. Those type of players worked on their face-offs; they committed to it. The dramatic increase in Sid’s [first year] face-off number to his second and third year is well noted. I believe Connor and Leon are well on their way to becoming better face-off guys. Face-offs are just like any other part of your game. You go out and work on stick handling, you work on your shot; you don’t get to use the shot or the stickling if you don’t have the puck. So I think it’s important to work on it.
On any possible lineup changes for tonight
Not at this point. We’re just finishing up our skate. We’ll get an update on bumps and bruises, then make a decision from there. Nothing that’s dramatic at this point.
On the possibity of bringing somebody like Jarret Stoll on a roadtrip to help out with face-offs
It’s a great thought and idea, but we spend about 70% of our time at home. Practicing at home, pregame skating at home, etc. During that 70% of the time, he’s accessible to the players there full-time. He has been out on the ice with them in different situations. I don’t think we have to bring Jarret on the road, especially in these circumstances right now, to work on face-offs. That can be done with the assistant coaches and video during the the regular days. If we go home and Jarret has to be a part of it, or if we request him to be a part of it, that’s the perfect place for it. … He has been on the ice with us, not every day, but he has gone out and worked with players. He’s done presentations to us, as a staff. He’s done presentations to the players. He’s involved.
To enter tonight’s FIRST GOAL CONTEST — sponsored by Violent Gentlemen — simply click the image below.
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com