LA’s first victory of the 2021 season came against Colorado — way back in January, which nearly feels like a lifetime ago at this point — and they’ll be looking for another one tonight when they begin a two-game series vs. the Avs.
Like Superman swooping in to save the day, goaltender Cal Petersen cleared protocol and joined the team in time for their pre-game morning skate on Friday.
And in related news — AHL Ontario is adding a goalie.
John Lethemon is coming to the Reign from ECHL Greenville.
He's a first year pro, after playing four years at @MSU_Hockey.
Also had 6 GP with the Swamp Rabbits thus far this season.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) March 12, 2021
If applicable, we’ll update this article with further information following media availability. However, it was an optional skate, so here’s how we’re sizing things up at the moment…
LA Kings projected lineup for Game 26 vs. Colorado Avalance
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Athanasiou – Vilardi – Carter
Moore – Lizotte – Kempe
Grundstrom – Andersson / Amadio – Wagner
Anderson – Doughty
Bjornfot – Roy
Brickley / MacDermid – Walker
Other players available:
Martin Frk (IR)
Jaret Anderson-Dolan (IR)
Jonathan Quick (IR)
Olli Maatta (non-roster)
LA Kings roster news
Olli Maatta has been placed on the Non-Roster list. He's entered the COVID-19 Protocol and is unavailable for tonight’s game.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) March 12, 2021
Current taxi squad listed as – Lias Andersson, Daniel Brickley, Drake Rymsha, and Matt Villalta.
NOTE: This article will be updated with Todd McLellan quotes following his media scrum
McLellan on the amount of pregame discussion regarding the altitude and need to keep shifts short
The players will discuss it. When we have our meeting, we’ll talk about shift length and the ability to sustain pressure, relieve pressure due to shift length. The players are smart enough now to know where we are and know how it affects them. Last year, when we played the outdoor game in Colorado Springs, we did a good job of managing that, but it’s talked about every time a team wheels into Denver. It’s known league-wide, so I don’t think there has to be a major conversation about it.
On what Colorado’s top line does well to be so successful
They volume shoot, they’re not selfish, they don’t need to be cute or fancy. They shoot the puck, they go and get it again. I think McKinnon had ten shots the other night in a game, that line at 19. There are some nights where teams only get 19 shots on goal. For as good as they are with the puck, they’re good without it and recovering. They make it hard on everybody.
On if Kopitar is one of the most consistent players he’s ever coached
He is, without a doubt one of the most consistent when it comes to play, but also his practice habits and preparation. Maybe more importantly, in his mood. He gets up and down a little bit with wins and losses, or how he plays, but he has a really accurate self-evaluation tool that he uses for himself. He also has the ability to keep the team up. His mood rarely dips to a level where he takes a bunch of people with him. That’s really impressive for an individual that is the team’s alpha.
On if Kopitar has taken it up a few notches this season
With my experience here — what, 90 or 100 games in — he’s been pretty consistent all along. I think he’s getting a few more results when it comes to individual stats and with the wins. All those signs would indicate that he has taken it up, but I think during my time he’s been pretty consistent. He does the things he needs to do, just finding the reward a little bit more this year.
On Cal Petersen returning to the team after what appears to be a false-negative test
Cal is fine. He’s with the team, skated this morning and everything’s good.
On if yesterday was a day where he could focus a little more, as the team practiced and then left town without having media availability
Coaches and players all have a responsibility to share our thoughts. We sell the game and you guys do such a good job of getting the information out to the fans, the listeners, the watchers. We understand what we have to do and what we don’t have to do. There are days — and yesterday would have been one of them — where we get back from Anaheim, we’re trying to put that game to rest, we’re trying to put a practice together, we’re trying to plan for a good team, we have a flight at 1pm. There’s just so much going on that sometimes the extra 20 minutes or half hour that we don’t spend with the media is welcome. But, let’s face it, you’re as important as any of the players that play the game because you tell the story to the fans and they want to hear it. It’s not an issue, it’s not a problem working with you guys.
On the availability of Bjornfot and JAD tonight
Toby’s good to go. JAD won’t be.
On calling out Vilardi and Kempe in the media earlier this season, and how he measures the timing of doing it
I never tell you who I talk to. You guys ask the questions and I’m just honest with you. There are a lot more players that I’ve talked to and challenged, you guys just don’t ask the question. Which is fine, don’t ask all the time because I like it that way. In Gabe’s case, and in Kempe’s case, it wasn’t something that I hadn’t already discussed with them. I’m not sharing it with the media to motivate them. I don’t believe they have to go to a newspaper and hear that the team needs more from them. They need to hear it from the coach the coaching staff. They need to be given direction and it needs to be very clear what we expect from them. The fact that it’s discussed with the media is really secondary. It’s after the fact and it’s usually because you guys have asked the question.
On a scale of 1-100, after 25 games in, how normal is his job as opposed to the old days
I’m assuming when you say old days, we’re talking about 367 days now. It’s changed, it’s changed a lot. At this time of the year, 25 games in, you’re still in a regular practice routine. But practices have diminished immensely. We’re trying to get better without physically taxing the players. We’re planning for curveballs that are thrown by the minute. There are so many variables that come into play. I don’t know how many times I’ve said this season already, ‘Nothing we can do about it, let’s just play.’ I think the players have adopted that attitude. We really haven’t used anything as an excuse; which has been a good thing to this point. It’s not changing. It’s gonna stay that way for a long, long time. We all hope that normalcy arrives at some point soon. Forget about hockey, just for regular everyday life for all of us. That’s what we’re looking forward to.
On Monday and Wednesday’s games vs. the Ducks being opposite games defensively, and what the Kings need to do to play a more consistent defensive game
That’s a good comparison. When you look at the two games, I look at the big picture. We’ve cut our goals against down a lot – a significant amount on the penalty kill, a lot in the d zone. A game got away on us in Anaheim. That’s gonna happen at some point. A lot of those mistakes weren’t necessarily structure mistakes or group mistakes. There were individual turnovers. We put it right on their tape and they scored. The shorthanded goal is one that’s preventable without being loose or lazy. Nights like that happen when you play 56 or 82 games. There’s gonna be games that get away on you. Nobody’s happy about it, but I don’t think it’s an overall symptom of our defensive play. In fact, we’ve improved immensely in that area from last year and from the beginning of the season. I don’t think it’s an issue at all.
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