After a day off yesterday, the Kings returned to the ice this morning for a short skate in advance of playing the first of their two-game set vs. the Minnesota Wild this week.
Coming off wins in two of their past three games, Kings coach Todd McLellan will be going with the same lineup that toppled the Blues on Sunday in St. Louis.
LA Kings expected lineup for Game 7 vs. Minnesota
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:
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.
On if he subscribes to the typical coaches theory of not wanting to change the lineup coming off of a win
I think it depends on the type of win and how certain individuals played. In our case tonight, we’ll keep the same lineup. We thought the group as a whole, player one through player 20, performed at a high enough level to stay in and give them another opportunity to win.
On any improvements he’s seen from Kale Clague thus far this season
It’s been a process. It takes dmen a while to to adapt, especially smaller, offensive-type defenseman. I think you’re either all in right off the bat or it takes you a little while. It’s taken Kale a bit of time, development time, they did a real good job in the American League with him. It’s important that we show confidence in him and it’s important that he shows confidence in his own game. We’ve been able to find that from him. He’s been able to jump in the play make good outlet passes. We’ll continue to work with him on the defensive part of the game, but he’s been a good addition to our team.
On preparing for a Wild team that they’ve already faced twice this season
Well, we have more evidence; tactically and strategy-wise we get a good idea of what they were trying to do to target our weaknesses and vice versa. Special teams, you you can find tenancies a little bit more. Really, when we look at the pre-scout, we look at if they changed anything against San Jose or Anaheim. When they went and played them after playing us, if they changed anything, why? And what can we do to fix those things? For the most part, we’re still at the stage where we’ve got to get our game in order. We’ll give the players as much information about the opponent as we feel they need, but the rest of it is about our execution and positioning and our game.
On if the Kings power play has more variety this year
It does. We’re trying to expand it into into different areas and there’s also the opportunity to maybe have two different looks from a first unit and a second unit. We’re trying to evolve and give them more options than they maybe had in the past. If you’re recognizing that, then great. I still think we’re a long way away from polishing it up, though.
On Athanasiou showing a greater commitment to defense in the last game
Yeah, we want him to be a factor in all three zones. With his speed and skill, and experience, he should be able to do that. Offensively, we’ve seen him shoot the puck in the net, we’ve seen him have bursts of speed where he’s been able to challenge defenseman with his speed. Defensively, when you go look at, he’s been able to block shots, he’s been able to be well positioned a number of times. I think, for the most part, he’s been able to contribute in the six games that we’ve played and we’d like to keep him going in an upward direction.
On if the penalties in the first two games against the Wild were forced or unforced errors
When I hear that, I think of the opponent putting you in a position of stress where you you react wrong. Forced errors are also self-induced and lazy. It could come both ways. I think we could easily eliminate them. Two too many men on the ice penalties right off the bat, so there’s four minutes of hockey we can get back. Some of the holds and the reaching that we had earlier in the year, if we can eliminate a couple of those a night, there’s another four minutes. All of a sudden you’re talking about using your third and fourth line players a little bit more instead of burning them out. In St. Louis, you saw what happens when we can use those players, and they are playing well, they become factors.
More on Kale Clague, on if the weight he put on in the offseason has made a difference
Perhaps. I always thought that Kale had explosive legs, he has the ability to be really quick out of the starting blocks, and he has confidence with the puck. I think we’ve seen that. But the retrievals, being a little heavier, a little bit stronger, keeps him over the puck a little bit longer which certainly helps. I think it helps even around the the net. Not everybody plays the game the same way. Kurtis MacDermid and Kale Clague probably play completely opposite. Sometimes you engage and sometimes you front shots. Dermy is much more engaging, Clague is smaller, has to be a little more cerebral maybe than been using the brawn part. He’s been able to do that to this point.
On if Martin Frk and/or Matt Luff traveled with the team
They did not travel and we’re hoping that when we get back they’ll be closer to entering on-ice activities. I don’t know if they’ll be close to playing, but we’ve got to get them up and running, skating again. Both of them have been out for a little while.
On building 3-1 leads in both previous games vs. Minnesota
We’d liked segments of those games, even in the third period when we gave up leads, we still like some of the things we did. They get a lot of offense from their bluelines, we have to be aware of that. And they have big bodies that like to cycle along the boards low in your zone. The combination of both makes them dangerous in your end. Their forecheckers were effective against us. I think we’re going to find ways to come out cleaner against them tonight. If we can do that, and take advantage of some offensive opportunities that we may create, well then we may be okay. But there’s still stuff to clean up against them.
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