In the first of four games against the Avs on Friday, Colorado did what was necessary to snap the LA Kings modest two-game win streak. If this was New York and a headline was needed for the newspaper’s back page, ‘Back To Reality’ would be fitting. The Kings are simply at a different stage of the plan when it comes to building a championship caliber club.
One element the game did provide was a final look at the future. Quinton Byfield played in his sixth straight game and he’ll be headed back to the AHL soon, as his brief taste of NHL life has come to an end for now. He’ll rejoin a Reign team that his red-hot, having won five straight games during his absence and only has three regular season games remaining before they’ll kick off their postseason journey on Tuesday, May 18.
One other important Byfield-related note to pass along here is the fact that he can’t play in the AHL next season. This year was an anomaly because the OHL wasn’t up and running. If this had been a normal season, the 18-year-old center would have been playing junior hockey. Come training camp, the Kings will need to decide if they keep him in the NHL or send him back to the OHL. It’s the same rule that impacted fellow prospect Arthur Kaliyev back in October 2019. See this article for more info:
Luckily for the Kings, they have another center to replace Byfield in the lineup on Saturday. With Blake Lizotte still sidelined, Rasmus Kupari will officially receive the Kings final call-up later today. As of now, he’s officially listed on the taxi squad – which allowed him to skate with the team during their pre-game skate on Friday, his first time back with the Kings since a three-game run in March.
Perhaps the biggest question heading into LA’s rematch with the Avs centers on goaltending. Will coach Todd McLellan go to Cal Petersen in back-to-back games? He’s done it before this season and certainly could opt to go in that direction again, as it looks like Jonathan Quick remains sidelined. However, Petersen has seen a lot of rubber lately. With any postseason possibilities off the table, it’s certainly conceivable to think McLellan could go with Troy Grosenick in net tonight.
Without a pre-game skate and the accompanying media session with McLellan, the below lineup is mainly a best-guess attempt at putting the puzzle together.
LA Kings projected lineup vs. Colorado Avalanche
Kempe – Kopitar – Moore
Iafallo – Vilardi – Athanasiou
Andersson – Kupari – Wagner
Lemieux – JAD – Grundstrom
Bjornfot – Roy
Maatta – Walker
Petersen or Grosenick (coin flip)
Other players available:
Blake Lizotte (injured, upper body)
Dustin Brown is out for the season (injured, upper body)
Jacob Ingham, Drake Rymsha, Cole Hults, and Tyler Madden
If you missed McLellan’s comments yesterday on Byfield and Brown, see the article linked below.
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com