Saturday’s mid-day (late afternoon?) game vs. the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs comes with many questions on the LA side. First and foremost, will the Kings players respond to coach Todd McLellan’s recent postgame comments, where he implored them to stop utilizing a run-and-gun style offense?
While that remains to be seen, one thing appears to be certain — forward Quinton Byfield is ill and will sit this one out. He was a late scratch from Thursday’s matchup with Winnipeg and missed practice yesterday, as well.
No Byfield today pic.twitter.com/cConk5wPpb
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) October 28, 2022
With Alex Iafallo already on IR, that brings the number of healthy forwards down to 12; in comes Rasmus Kupari. As an extra precaution, he was recalled from AHL Ontario on Saturday morning. He comes in having scored goals for the Reign in three of their past four games. Although he was used at both center and wing last season, he’s played exclusively at center through six games thus far. From what we’ve been able to gather, he will slot in tonight at 3C. In replacing the spot previously held by 6-foot-5 Byfield, Kupari will give them similar size on that line, with the 22-year-old Finn checking in around 6-foot-2.
But, wait, there’s more. As McLellan hinted at when talking about Gabe Vilardi on Thursday night, look for No. 13 to ascend to the top line tonight… followed by a slight reshuffling of the deck.
Without a morning skate, predicting the starting goaltender is a toss-up. Cal Petersen could potentially get the net. This is a Hockey Night in Canada game for those north of the border. Don’t discount that element going into the decision.
Sean Walker could easily return on defense tonight too, after sitting out the past three games. As for rookie Brandt Clarke, the long-term decision has already been made (see linked article below).
LA Kings Projected Lineup vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Kempe – Kopitar – Vilardi
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Fiala – Kupari – Kaliyev
Lemieux – Lizotte – Grundstrom
Anderson – Doughty
Durzi – Roy
Edler – Clarke
Scratches: Anderson-Dolan, Byfield, Walker
Long-term Injured Reserve: Iafallo
Additional Game Notes
Puck drop is set for 4:00pm PST and will be televised by Bally Sports.
For Toronto, they’ll counter LA’s chrome helmet look with their own specialty get-up, as the Leafs will be wearing their Justin Bieber inspired jerseys shown below. Not many visiting teams have worn black sweaters when facing the Kings in Downtown LA since the league switched to home teams using dark jerseys back in 2003.
They’ll will go with Ilya Samsonov between the pipes. Here’s a look at the rest of their lineup, including former Kings fan favorite Wayne Simmonds at right wing:
Leafs D at practice
Rielly – Brodie
Sandin – Holl
Giordano – Kral*/Mete
*Kral taking first reps … has yet to play in NHL @TSN_Edge
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) October 28, 2022
Kings Of The Podcast: Ep. 138 – Season Preview with LA GM Rob Blake
Lineup image created by ALo Images
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