In advance of the Kings debuting their Reverse Retro jerseys on Tuesday night vs. the visiting Anaheim Ducks, they took to the ice this morning wearing their Forum Blue and Gold practice gear for the second day in a row.
Yesterday, coach Todd McLellan referred to Sunday as being a day where the team was looking to just get their “engine going again” after being idle since Thursday night in Minnesota. McLellan went on to say, “We want to be fast [on Monday], we want to be clean. We’ll spend some time on special teams and then we’ll be ready to play our our rival.”
Forward Adrian Kempe also returned to practice today after missing yesterday due to feeling under the weather. He was not in COIVD protocol.
Below are the line combos and defensive pairings McLellan utilized at Monday’s practice:
LA Kings Lineup at Practice
Iafallo – Kopitar – Kempe
Wagner – Amadio – Carter
Grundstrom – Vilardi – Brown
Moore – Andersson – Kaliyev
Luff – Anderson-Dolan – Frk
* note: Luff and Frk remain on IR
Anderson – Doughty
MacDermid – Clague
Maatta – Alt
NOTE: several roster moves have taken place over the past few days.
Kings Roster Move
And there isn't much to see here. We previously reported the plan coming into the season was to rotate Ingham and Villalta between taxi/AHL.
Today, LA flip-flopped the two, Jacob Ingham recalled to taxi and Matt Villalta reassigned to AHL.
This will continue.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) February 1, 2021
Additionally, Arthur Kaliyev and Austin Strand were recalled from AHL Ontario, while Sammy Fagemo and Boko Imama were returned to the Reign. Thus, the Taxi Squad is officially listed as – Andersson, Anderson-Dolan, Kaliyev, Strand, Mark Alt, and Jacob Ingham.
This article will be updated following McLellan’s media scrum later this morning.
McLellan on the additional time he’s having to spend thinking about line combos and defensive pairings this season
Well the last few days [for sure] because of the COVID issue and the situation we’re in there, as well as the injuries. Quickly guys get shuffled around; we look at pairs, hands, lefties and righties, experience with each other. Then up front, trying to build four lines that can consistently give us good 5-on-5 minutes has been a challenge, but it looks to me like Luff and Frk are getting close to being back. They had good practices, so they give us more options. Then, on the back end, we’ll be able to see if some of our younger players, our inexperienced players, can have more minutes. You want that sometimes during the season, especially with where we are as an organization. It gives us a great chance to evaluate what we have and what we might need. It’s time to step up and play.
On how much he talks to Arthur Kaliyev, a younger player who has primarily been a top-six player, about adapting to a bottom-six role for his NHL debut?
Well, if Arty gets into to a game situation, a lot of the kids that are coming in start in that bottom six. It normally gives them competition that’s a little less strenuous to play against, whether that’s the top pairing or top line on another team. To break into the league, it’s often done that way. Sometimes, if you’re an exceptional player, you may get put in a situation that’s a little bit different. For the most part, that’s how they enter. We’ll talk to Arty about his role on any line against any opponent, nevermind playing in the top or bottom six; and get him prepared and turn him loose. If he plays we want him to play free, just play hard and make mistakes. We’ll help you with those. I think he’ll have an opportunity to have a really good game if he gets that chance.
On the desire to keep Jaret Anderson-Dolan around the big club vs. letting him get games with AHL Ontario.
He will get games, it’s just a matter of where and when. This week was odd because we had a gap in our schedule and the minor league team played a couple games which we initially thought we could maybe get him into – but, again, COVID threw a wrinkle into that and he couldn’t play on the weekend. He will get some games and we do recognize his effort and his commitment to becoming a better player. I’m sure he’ll play games for the Kings and also maybe play some games for the Reign this year. He’s the type of player that will be ready for both situations.
On his recent comments about Frk more likely not playing until the weekend series in Vegas
He’s had an opportunity to skate twice now. As I mentioned yesterday, I think it was a groin injury, lower body. When you have one of those, you have a tough time putting the skates on and trying to keep up with pace and getting the training in that you need. That injury happened in the first or second shift of our inner-squad game three and a half weeks ago now. He may need a little bit more work, in all fairness to him and his teammates, to be effective. But he has looked good for the last two days. The reports from the trainers are that he’s coming along just fine, so maybe sooner than later.
On how much he considers guys playing together in the past when putting new defensive pairings together, for example MacDermid and Clague
We do talk about it. Right now, we’re talking about righties and lefties as much as anything. Losing Walker and Roy, both right-handed shots affects the group. In any case, we have players that can go on their off-side, Clague is one of them. Clague and MacDermid have played together in the past and are familiar with each other, so it makes sense to give them a look or an opportunity to play together as early as tomorrow.
On any feedback he’s received from the Ontario management group regarding Kaliyev, and any impressions he’s formed this month of the young forward
The second part of your question first, the visual of Arty goes back to last year. He’s gone from a boy last year to a young man now. He’s trained hard, he’s in better condition, he’s physically stronger more mature mentally. We see that, we see it evolving. We witness the work that he put in over the summer, so good for him. He put himself in a good situation that way. And then the feedback, he’s always going to be a pretty good player in and around the puck, whether he has it or he’s about to receive it. His shot is exceptional, he’s willing to shoot it. All those things are positives and for the most part they’re there every night. The work away from the puck and the commitment to defending, and playing the full rink, is still a work in progress, but it’s improved significantly. Usually, that’s the last to come when you’re talking about a scorer at the junior level. They don’t necessarily always have to do it, they can get away with just ‘shoot the puck in the net’ and putting their hands in the air. That doesn’t happen at our level, but he’s worked really hard at it. We continue to focus on it. He’s he’s a much better player now than he was last year at this time.
On having a couple days off to be able to reset after the injuries and absences piled up after the game last Thursday
I don’t know if it’s done much for us other than get us rest. We’ll pay the price at some other point during this season and who knows what kind of shape we’ll be in. The COVID related absentees are just what they are, there’s no way we can do anything about it, they’re gone. The others, we get a chance to do more evaluation with them and we get to look at them a little bit closer. Can we squeeze them into a game? Is it that serious or are they out? Having time allows us to do that. But at the end of the day, when we look at what we went through, it wouldn’t have changed anything whether we played two nights later or whether we played four nights later. The injuries were the injuries and it’s keeping players out for a while.
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