In a season where the Kings have largely been forced to abandon their usual Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday home schedule used for decades, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that one of the occasional second-half of the season afternoon games is being played at 3pm, instead of the more customary 1pm. It’s just par for the course in a rather unique moment in time.
What coach Todd McLellan may be thinking regarding his lineup for LA’s rematch with Vegas is anything but clear.
First and third lines? Sure, no problem. Easy to pencil in those six players. (Reminder: It’s 2021, so nothing gets done in pen until after warmups. If there was ever a time when ‘Wait for the song’ was appropriate, this is it).
What happens on the second line ultimately impacts what happens with the fourth line. Where will Jeff Carter play was the question heading into Friday. That remains somewhat a mystery, as does the placement of Adrian Kempe and a few other forwards. We’re willing to take a wild swing at it and see where things land.
Then again, McLellan could just opt to go with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen again, which would throw much of this out the window.
LA Kings projected lineup vs. the Vegas Golden Knights
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Grundstrom – JAD – Moore
Kempe – Vilardi – Carter
Athanasiou – Lizotte – Luff / Wagner
Anderson – Doughty
Bjornfot – Roy
Maatta – Walker
Other players available:
Martin Frk (IR)
The taxi squad is currently comprised of Michael Amadio, Daniel Brickley, Drake Rymsha, and Troy Grosenick
Although the Kings opted to skip morning skate and media availability this morning, McLellan did share the following comments after practice on Saturday:
On his use of 11+7 in the last game vs. Vegas
The odd-man out the last little bit has been MacDermid. When he’s been in, he’s actually played quite well, so we didn’t want to lose him. We wanted to keep him up and running. It gave some of our other players opportunities for more minutes up front. It may be something we do more of as we go forward.
On if he plans to return to a fairly even Quick-Petersen rotation now that both guys are healthy and available
It’s certainly something that we believe in. We just play so many games in so few nights that if you don’t have two goaltenders that can take the net and perform at a high level, I think you’re in trouble. Right now, we have two. We want to keep them fresh, keep them rested. Some of the nights that they’ve had here lately, Cal in particular, have been pretty taxing. A lot of shots on goal, so having Quickie healthy is a real good thing.
On what more he needs from Jeff Carter right to have him being as effective as he was earlier in the season
Carts has been a guy that’s moved around a little bit too. When we look at the center ice position, he’s had different centermen here over the last two or three games. He’s been on different lines, starting yesterday. Carts has a tremendous amount of value that nobody on this call sees other than me doing my talking because I’m in the locker room, I’m on the bench. His ability to make others feel comfortable — forget about his play — is invaluable. He sells the message very well, from us through the team. He has the respect of the older players, as well as the younger players. On the ice, I thought he used his speed more [on Friday] than he has in the past. He looked a little fresher. He’s getting chances. His hands and his shot, just polish that up a little bit more. He still has the ability to be very effective and he will continue to be as the year goes on.
On the defensive pairings staying fairly consistent when everybody is healthy
We would like to keep those pairs together as long as we possibly can. I think they’ve learned to read off of each other. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect, it doesn’t mean that they don’t make mistakes. They communicate with each other on the bench, they have cues that they read off of, body language that they can sense from each other right now. The common pairs on the back end, I believe is a good thing. Lefty-righty is also a good thing. It doesn’t always work that way, but in today’s game I think when you look at the top teams, they have common pairs that they’re really comfortable running. Even after a bad night, they’re willing to throw them back out there.
On letting young players sit vs. letting them work through it and managing their confidence
There is a fine line. Having young players come out of the lineup and reset themselves, and watch a game, sit down with the coaching staff without any pressure to go back out there and perform the next night, learn visually, talk things through is valuable. We don’t enjoy pulling players out of the lineup and and sitting them, especially younger players that are maybe a little more fragile than the older ones. Sometimes it’s a really, really good thing for them. Nobody thinks that at the time, certainly the player doesn’t. Sometimes the fans don’t, the media doesn’t, and it can stir things up. It’s often the right thing to do. There are times where our young players may need that. It may get to that point. It doesn’t mean they can’t play, won’t play, and won’t be very good players. It’s just a reset mechanism that can be used.
On taking minutes away from players, including Vilardi and others
There’s different lengths of rope for everybody. It’s part of being an entry-level player, and understanding game management situations. We can talk about it, we can teach it, and we can throw them back out again and again. At some point, there has to be some responsibility for it. Among the older players, Kopi is going to get a lot more rope than Gabe is or Kempe is, or really anybody is on our team. That’s just the way it works. He’s earned the right to get that. It doesn’t mean I’m not hard on him. It doesn’t mean I don’t hold him accountable amongst the group. He just gets more rope because he’s earned the right to have that rope. There’s a wide range of rope on the team. Not everybody is treated equal. That’s just the way it is, but everybody is treated fair. That’s the way it has to be.
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