Later this evening, the Kings and Coyotes will square off at Staples Center in a game that was originally scheduled for Friday, April 23. However, with a game vs. the Minnesota Wild from last month needing to be moved into that slot, Arizona is now coming to SoCal earlier than expected. This will be the third of eight matchups between the two long-time division rivals, with the Kings taking both of the previously played games. After this matchup they won’t see each other again until April 5.
In advance of Round 3, LA will hold their traditional morning skate at 10:30am in El Segundo. Coming off two straight days of practice, coach Todd McLellan may opt for an optional on-ice session, which would also prevent us from gleaning much insight into his lineup plans.
Based on reading the tea leaves, it appears he will go with something close to this:
LA Kings projected lineup for Game 21 vs. Arizona Coyotes
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Athanasiou – Vilardi – Carter
Kempe – Amadio – Grundstrom
Moore – Lizotte – Wagner
Anderson – Doughty
Bjornfot – Roy
Maatta – Walker
Petersen (starter) *
* Purely a guess because with three games over the next four nights, somebody is getting two starts this week. Conversely, if McLellan strictly follows the alternating rotation, Quick will start tonight.
Other players available:
Martin Frk (IR)
Jaret Anderson-Dolan (IR)
Current taxi squad listed as – Tobias Bjornfot, Akil Thomas, Sean Durzi, and Troy Grosenick
As usual, there will need to be some roster manipulation in order to ice the above lineup. With Bjornfot coming off taxi, the Kings will need to replace his spot there – due to a league mandated minimum of four players on taxi. Thomas is also expected to be returned to AHL Ontario in time for their game tonight, so that would also require a second move.
Updated taxi squad listed as – Drake Rymsha, Daniel Brickley, Markus Phillips, and Troy Grosenick
Thomas and Durzi returned to AHL Ontario
NOTE: This article will be updated with quotes from McLellan following his morning media scrum.
McLellan on the ongoing development of Mikey Anderson
I think he’s meeting expectations now. That probably doesn’t answer your question, but when we put him up there with Drew, it was a test. We wanted to see what he could do and and he’s meeting expectations right now. He’s doing a really good job of shutting the other teams top line down. He feels comfortable there. Him and Drew work well together; 95% of the time Drew’s helping Mikey, but there’s also that 5% of time where Mikey can help Drew. And I think that’s a real valuable thing. He seems to understand the other team’s top lines right now. He’s been through the batting order once, if you will; he gets a good idea of what to expect from the other team and he’s been able to defend well. I think, eventually, there’ll be a little more offense there too, but right now we’re happy with where he’s at.
On the possibility of any lineup changes tonight
There’s always a chance for changes. We’re just getting off the ice right now from pregame skate, so we’ll see how that goes.
On if there’s any update on Jaret Anderson-Dolan
He has started to skate again on his own, starting to feel better. I wouldn’t expect to see him at all between now and through the weekend.
On if there are things the Kings need to change from their games in Minnesota to prepare for Arizona
We don’t want to get ourselves in a three-goal hole. We did that two games in a row in Minnesota, so we want to change that, obviously. The start has to be better and the ability to stop the bleeding once it starts is going to be really important. They’re a real competitive team, they compete for open or loose ice as well as anybody. They have good escape skills in the offensive zone, so we’ll have a certain focus on what we need to do to play against them. At the end of the day, it’s a lot more about us than them.
Bonus quote from Carl Grundstrom:
Grundstrom on some of the focal points when facing Arizona
Trying to get them to stop in our d-zone, so they don’t run around so much because. They have a couple of quick forwards who are really good at turning. So we’ll try to get a stop right away and get it going from there.
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