In the absence of a morning skate today, predicting LA’s lineup for their Sunday game vs. the Washington Capitals comes with more questions than answers.
For starters, assuming everybody is healthy, Kings coach Todd McLellan is like most NHL bench bosses in that he typically rolls with the same lineup following a win. That isn’t the case here, as Carolina swept past LA 5-1 on Saturday.
An inconsistent team — which the Kings certainly meet the definition of this season — also usually isn’t afforded much stability in back-to-back games. Coaches will often tinker with their lineups in such situations, often looking to give older players a rest (rather than play them on consecutive days at the end of a road trip) and/or attempt to give younger players an opportunity to step into bigger roles.
Enter your 2021 LA Kings…
In net, Jonathan Quick has been better than anybody could have reasonably expected this season, especially of late. With Cal Petersen expected to miss about 10 days in protocol, Garret Sparks was recalled from AHL Ontario. Would McLellan have him start a regular season game (he looked good for LA during the NHL preseason, yet has gone 4-3-0 in Ontario this year with a .894 save percentage). We’ll assume McLellan sticks with Quick.
More LA Kings roster news…
— The Mayor (@mayorNHL) December 18, 2021
With Cal out ~10 days, goalie carousel continues:
— Garret Sparks to join the Kings today, as we reported yesterday
— Jacob Ingham is being sent to AHL Ontario
— Lukas Parik, who was flown to Ontario for last night's game, expected to start for @RapidCityRush today in Boise
— The Mayor (@mayorNHL) December 19, 2021
Defensively, McLellan’s only option would be to use 23-year-old blueliner Jacob Moverare, in what would be his NHL debut. Although he was Ontario’s Outstanding Defenseman last season — as a rookie! — he still only has 45 games of pro experience in North America. Sliding him in against the Caps could be a tall ask, even for a promising young player. We’d estimate there’s a less than 30% chance that happens today.
At forward is where most of the questions come into play. Lias Andersson has been sitting on the sidelines waiting to get back into action. Additionally, after holding rather steady with his line combinations in recent weeks, it’s likely time to mix things up a bit. With that in mind, we’re taking the uncommon approach of providing a few alternate lineup projections below.
11am UPDATE — Danault has entered protocol, so back to the drawing board…
LA KINGS PROJECTED LINEUP vs. WASHINGTON CAPITALS on 12/19
Kempe – Kopitar – Brown
Iafallo – Moore – Arvidsson
Andersson – Kupari – Grundstrom
Lemieux – Lizotte – Kaliyev
Other options: N/A
Bjornfot – Durzi
Maatta – Roy
Wolanin – Anderson
Other options: Moverare
LA KINGS PROJECTED LINEUP – OPTION B
Andersson – Kopitar – Arvidsson
Iafallo – Kempe – Kaliyev
Moore – Kupari – Brown
Lemieux – Lizotte – Grundstrom
LA KINGS PROJECTED LINEUP – OPTION C
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Kempe – Lizotte – Arvidsson
Andersson – Kupari – Grundstrom
Lemieux – Moore – Kaliyev
On the Capitals side of things:
#Caps forward TJ Oshie is unavailable due to the NHL's COVID-19 protocol.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) December 19, 2021
With Oshie joining Backstrom and Kuznetsov in protocol and both Wilson and Mantha still out with upper body ailments, the #Caps will take the ice against LA tonight with Alex Ovechkin as last man standing among group they envisioned as their top six forwards last summer.
— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) December 19, 2021
NEWS | The Capitals have recalled forward Joe Snively, a native of Herndon, Va., from the Hershey Bears.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 19, 2021
KINGS MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Anze Kopitar – needs 45 points to pass Dave Taylor for third on the Kings all-time scoring list
Dustin Brown — 8 goals away from passing Bernie Nicholls for fifth place in Kings franchise history
Drew Doughty — 14 games away from playing in his 1,000th NHL regular season game
Puck drop is scheduled for 4:00 pm PST today and the game will be on Bally Sports Network.
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