Sometimes it takes a while to reach the destination.
That simple sentence could apply to many of the sub-plots surrounding today’s LA Kings matchup with the visiting Montreal Canadiens.
We’ll start with one of the more obvious ones first – Tyler Toffoli. Shortly after the Kings traded him to the Canucks in February 2020, the world changed. He never received the big homecoming, with the tribute video and the fanfare that usually accompanies a player of his stature returning to faceoff against the club that drafted and raised him as a pro. Toffoli instead ended up in Montreal later that offseason as a free agent, signing a four-year contract with the Canadiens. Now, he returns to Staples Center for the first time. How will it feel? We spoke with him at length about the entire journey of the last 18 months during an appearance on Kings Of The Podcast. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s well worth a listen, as he was extremely honest and forthcoming.
Ironically, the Kings added two of Toffoli’s former teammates this past summer – defenseman Alex Edler (Vancouver) and Phillip Danault (Montreal). The latter was very clear during training camp with the Kings last month, he appreciates his time with the Canadiens, yet he’s turned the page and is excited for this next chapter of his career. His tribute video will have to wait until LA visits Montreal on November 9. Still, today will mark his first opportunity to faceoff against many of the guys he went to the Stanley Cup Final with back in June.
There’s also 23-year-old defenseman Kale Clague. His journey to becoming a full-time NHL player has been anything but linear. Left unprotected in the recent Seattle Expansion Draft, many expected him to be a member of the Kraken right now. Not so fast, though, he began the year back with the Ontario Reign and is now hoping to seize the moment afforded him due to injuries on the Kings blueline. We spoke at length with him recently about all the starts and stops to his young career and what he’ll need to do to reach the next level.
On the surface, one might now expect Viktor Arvidsson to enter today’s narrative. However, he’s very much a key cog in the conversation. To put it bluntly, the tenacious winger appears to be pressing a bit too hard. Like many players before him, he’s likely carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, looking to prove the naysayers wrong after being traded to LA by Nashville over the summer. Kings coach Todd McLellan has been patient with him, giving an opportunity to develop some chemistry with captain Anze Kopitar (it’s only been seven games!). Yet, temporarily moving him off the top line might be best for all involved. Overall, the Kings aren’t scoring goals as collective team, nor is Arvidsson individually. Perhaps pairing him with Danault on the second line for a few games may take some pressure off No. 33 and allow him to get his offense going again.
[ed. note – Arvidsson also came on KOTP, linked here for your reference]
Down on the bottom-6, things are also taking a little while to fully come together in a productive way. Brenden Lemieux was looking good during camp and there was a noticeable difference with him out of the lineup the past few games. He’s now out of protocol and has practiced a few times with the team. He’s expected to draw back into the lineup today.
LA Kings roster moves…
Lias Andersson has been activated from IR. Rookie Vladimir Tkachev headed to AHL Ontario to make room for him.
— The Mayor (@mayorNHL) October 30, 2021
Tkachev situation is delicate. He left money on the table in KHL to come over and try NHL. Ball is now in his court. All in how it's viewed. Time in the AHL can be good for him. Needs to be more than just a PP guy. Will he stay and put the work in…or will he use opt out clause?
— The Mayor (@mayorNHL) October 30, 2021
Lias Andersson is also ready to draw back in after practicing with the Kings this week. To make room for him, rookie Vladimir Tkachev was assigned to AHL Ontario. That’s certainly a developing situation and one we’ll likely be talking more about in the days to come.
Next up on the injury front is Andreas Athanasiou, who we hear is targeted to return by Wednesday. As of now, the Kings would need to clear a roster spot for him, as well. To do so would likely mean one of Grundstrom/Lizotte going on waivers or one of Kaliyev/Vilardi being sent down to the Reign. Although Rasmus Kupari is technically eligible to go back to the AHL without waivers, we’re hearing they like him on the third line and he isn’t part of the decision making process that’s coming up over the next few days.
LA KINGS PROJECTED LINEUP vs. MONTREAL on 10/30
Arvidsson – Kopitar – Brown
Iafallo – Danault – Kempe
Moore – Kupari – Kaliyev
Lemieux – Lizotte – Andersson
Other options: Grundstrom and Vilardi
Maatta – Roy
Edler – Clague
Björnfot – Anderson
Other options: Strand
Quick (unconfirmed starter)
Injured Reserve: Athanasiou, Doughty, Walker
KINGS MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Alex Edler – one goal away from career number 100
Phil Danault – one game away from reaching 400 NHL games played
Anze Kopitar – needs 61 points to pass Dave Taylor for third on the Kings all-time scoring list
Puck drop is scheduled for 1:00 pm PST tonight and the game will be televised on Bally Sports Network.
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