With four straight wins, and points in their last five games, the Kings team currently preparing to faceoff with the Blues is a different group than faced St. Louis earlier this season.
While LA is riding high at the moment, they’re also missing a few key pieces due to injury – namely, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Sean Walker. That situation isn’t unique, though, as St. Louis is currently without forward Jaden Schwartz and defenseman Colton Parayko.
Overall, both teams feature an offense that has put up goals this season. In fact, they’re producing more goals-per-game than any other teams in the West Division.
Which two teams in the West Division are scoring the most?
Highest avg goals per game:
STL gives up 3.11 per game
LA gives up 3.00 per game
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) February 22, 2021
Based upon what the Kings were showing at morning skate (and additional intel), things are shaping up as:
LA Kings projected lineup for Game 17 vs. the Blues
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Kempe – Vilardi – Carter
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Moore
Athanasiou – Amadio – Wagner
Anderson – Doughty
Bjornfot – Roy
Maatta – Walker
Other players available:
Jaret Anderson-Dolan (injured, but on the roster)
Martin Frk (IR)
Current taxi squad listed as – Rasmus Kupari, Lias Andersson, Drake Rymsha, Boko Imama, Austin Strand, and Troy Grosenick.
This article will be updated with quotes from Todd McLellan following his morning media scrum.
On if he’s been pleased with how Olli Maatta has played on the third pair with Austin Strand, a different role than where he started the season
He’s been consistent. He’s been bringing a young player along, probably doesn’t get enough credit for that. He needed to reset himself after the beginning of the year. I think sometimes when you get thrown up there and there’s a lot of talk about playing with Drew Doughty and against the other team’s top lines, you try to do way too much. In turn, you don’t do enough or you do enough just to hurt the team. Olli was real good during his reset. He’s come back into the lineup and I think he’s a much more consistent defender now than he was at the beginning of the year. We have to accept a lot of responsibility for that, we put him in that situation and we built him up. It was the wrong thing in retrospect.
On the keys to succeeding against St. Louis in their building
In any building, they are a forechecking, hold on to the puck, stick their rear-ends out to protect it, crash the blue paint team. Anytime you play St. Louis, you talk about buckling up the helmets tight and being prepared to do a lot of the dirty grunt work. If we can slow them down coming through the neutral zone and buy ourselves a little bit of time on breakouts, I think that will help. Then, like every coach would say, take advantage of the opportunities that we do create in the other end, we’ll be OK. It’s a tall task. They’re a real good team and I don’t think they get enough respect. They just won the Cup a couple years ago with a lot of the same players and and the same ingredients. They’re a team to be reckoned with.
On the importance of getting effort from all four lines and staying out of the penalty box
Like with any team, we can’t win with nine forwards and four defensemen. We just can’t. We need valuable productive minutes from everybody that dresses. We know the effects that taking too many penalties had on our team at the beginning of the year, we’ve cleaned that up a lot. We’re gonna have to continue to maintain that, so we’re not penalty killing every three or four minutes in a game.
On if he can draw any comparisons to Matt Roy and a player he’s coached previuosly
Well, different hands, but I see a lot of Mark Edward Vlasic in him – where you’re just steady. You show up and play the same game every night, over and over and over again. You can play against the other team’s top players. You can provide some offense, sneaky offense. Players rely on you and you just quietly go about it. There’s not a lot of rah-rah or anything like that coming from either of them, but when the skates go on and it’s time to play, they are productive. That’s somebody that comes to mind immediately.
On if the Kings will use the same lineup as last game
We may make some changes. We have a few things to discuss here after the morning skate.
On when he knows it’s time to put a player back into the lineup after they’ve been out for a while
It’s player specific and situation specific. You look at why they were out – Were they out just because they didn’t play real well and somebody else took their spot while they’re healthy? They’re ready to go, they don’t need to skate or battle their way back into the lineup, they need to clean some things up in their individual games so that they can get back in? With injured players, and the sports science part of the game, we’ve got a lot of people that are around – we have baselines for legs, lungs, heartrate, all that type of stuff. I rely on those people for some information. I rely a lot on the assistant coaches for the eyeball test during practice. Funny enough, the one-on-one conversations, they kind of can tip their hats sometimes – if they’re hesitant or if they’re ready. Walker is a prime example. After taking a shot in the face, we’ve got to make sure that emotionally he’s ready to go back in, even with a cage on. You have to have that conversation with him and you have to be able to read what he’s telling you. Cut through the BS sometimes and figure it out from there.
On if there is any consideration on wanting Walker to get into a game before facing Minnesota again
There’s consideration in that. Let’s face it, we want Walks in the lineup as soon as we can get him there. We’re not sitting idle and waiting for everything to line up perfectly, we’ll take it when we can get it. We have to make sure he’s ready to go, but we want him in the lineup as soon as possible.
On the growth of Trevor Moore as a player
He’s having a real confident year. Right now, I think he feels good about being on the ice and in a lot of different situations. Although, I will tell you, I think that player was here last year. We just didn’t appreciate him enough and we didn’t see him enough. We got all focused on the covid at the end of the year, but a lot of the time he was with us, our team had some success in the win-loss column. We had some success on the penalty kill and different special teams. It created depth. He’s been a really good player for our team, let’s put it that way.
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