On Friday night, the Kings and Wild will play a game that was originally scheduled for Feb. 13, yet needed to be moved due to protocol reasons surrounding Minnesota at the time. Originally planned as the opening matchup of a two-game set, the second game was played then, with the Kings winning 4-0. Jonathan Quick was in net that night and he’s expected back between the pipes once again — assuming the goalie rotation stays on am even split/rotation.
Coming into the 2021 season, the West Division appeared to have three sure-fire playoff teams at the top of the standings and a handful of other teams all fighting for the fourth playoff spot. Now in the final stretch of games, that’s exactly how things have played out.
Well, with one small change.
The three teams predicted to be dominant were Vegas, Colorado, and St. Louis. As it turned out, Minnesota took that third spot, leaving the Blues to slug it out with the likes of the Kings, Coyotes, and Sharks.
Big 3 vs Bottom 5 in the West Division…
Vegas, Colorado, Minnesota in firm control. Meanwhile, that fourth playoff spot continues to be a wide open race.
#️⃣s via Boomer@SiriusXMNHL
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) April 23, 2021
After tonight, the Kings will be right back at it again on Saturday with a game vs. the Coyotes. This could influence how coach Todd McLellan ultimately decides to use his plethora of healthy defensemen.
Per the norm coming off a few days of practice, McLellan opted for an optional morning skate this morning. Thus, little could be gleaned related to those decisions.
LA Kings projected lineup vs. Minnesota Wild
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Kempe – Vilardi – Moore
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Athanasiou
Lemieux – JAD – Wagner
Anderson – Doughty
Maatta – Walker
Other players available:
The taxi squad is currently comprised of Troy Grosenick, Drake Rymsha, Lias Andersson, and Tyler Madden
Should coach Todd McLellan provide any key updates during his media availability, this article will be updated.
McLellan on Jaret Anderson-Dolan
What he’s done is he’s settled in right now, and that is common for players. He started the season not playing a lot, just waiting and waiting and waiting for his opportunity. He played and scored, had a lot of confidence, and really took off. Then, he got hurt through no fault of his own, and then missed a lot of the prime time stuff that he needed to continue to work on and to grow. A shoulder injury doesn’t allow you to do a lot, other than skate. Since that time, he came back real early and was effective. Now it’s hard, but he’s not somebody I worry too much about. He’s the consummate pro – he works at his game, takes responsibility and owns his shifts. I believe he understands and has hockey-sense. The concepts that are put into place, he’s capable of grabbing onto. It’s just getting a little more confidence back again. He still plays power play, he’s on the penalty kill – which is a lot to handle for a young player. We’re asking Gabe Vilardi and other young players to take on a lot of responsibility, by design. We want them to, but it’s not an easy task. You go through ups and downs, and JAD is experiencing that right now.
On Blake Lizotte
If you take Blake Lizotte as a hockey player and you list his his assets and his liabilities, the assets come out almost every night /. Yes, it’s come out almost every night – the effort, the pace that he plays with, the tenacity that he arrives to the rink with, the ability to have that rub off on others, the respect that he has for his teammates. All of that goes on the positive side of the ledger night after night. Yeah, he gets knocked down every now and then. He’s not the biggest or the strongest guy. But quite frankly, I don’t care. He plays bigger than a lot of players do. And he’s always involved. It was great to see him get rewarded with a goal and a couple assists the other night. He’s not a natural scorer at this level, but he can score. He’s one of our unsung heroes. Fans, people around the league, they may or may not like him. But come and live here for a week, and get to know him a little bit. Sit in the locker room, watch him in practice, and I think you’ll change your mind quickly.
NOTE: Lizotte was a fascinating guest on Kings Of The Podcast. Check out that episode here.
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