To say tonight’s game is a big one for the Kings would be both obvious and perhaps even underselling the magnitude of the situation. LA currently sits five points behind fourth-place Arizona. Sure, the Kings have three games in hand, yet the bigger picture is still an issue. Even using points percentage, LA trails St. Louis and Arizona for the final West Division playoff spot.
Coach Todd McLellan pointed out after Friday night’s loss, “We didn’t climb tonight, but we didn’t fall. That’s a good thing.” And while true at the moment, another loss tonight would be a horrific blow to their playoff hopes.
As for what lineup he’ll use vs. the Coyotes, at least one question comes between the pipes. McLellan has played a steady 50-50 rotation of Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen all season long, when both goalies have been healthy. McLellan deviated from that when Petersen got the start on Friday vs. Minnesota. Will he go back to Petersen again, playing him on consecutive nights and for the third time in five days? Or does Quick get the start? We’re projecting the latter, but that’s solely based on 2021 precedent.
One thing is more certain, the Kings have recalled forward Lias Andersson from the taxi squad.
UPDATE: This was an emergency call-up and does not count toward the Kings four allowed call-ups, see here for more information.
It remains unclear if Andersson will play. Perhaps there is an unreported injury at forward and they needed an extra healthy body for warmups.
This season, Andersson has split time between the NHL and AHL, having scored two goals in 13 previous games with the Kings, while also picking up 14 points (5G, 9A) in 13 games with the Ontario Reign.
We’re also expecting Matt Luff to return to the NHL lineup for the first time in more than month. He last played March 17 against St. Louis. In 11 games with the Kings this season, Luff has recorded one goal. His most recent game action came via a brief stint with Ontario, where he recorded three goals in four games.
On defense, although nothing is confirmed, McLellan did indicate in a recent media availability that his preference is to roll with the same six defensemen he’s used the past few games.
With the back-to-back games this weekend, McLellan opted to have the team skip the traditional pregame skate this morning.
projected GUESSTIMATE lineup vs. Arizona Coyotes
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Kempe – Vilardi – Moore
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Athanasiou
Lemieux – JAD – Luff
Anderson – Doughty
Maatta – Walker
Other players available:
The taxi squad is currently comprised of Troy Grosenick, Drake Rymsha, Daniel Brickley, and Tyler Madden
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