Los Angeles, GM Rob Blake and coach Todd McLellan had their fair share of issues to sort out near the end of training camp. The team was looking to get their proper rest and find a rhythm coming back from Australia, plus they had to deal with Arthur Kaliyev being suspended and Viktor Arvidsson needing back surgery. Sveral weeks later, they seem to have weathered the storm just fine and have settled in.
At the opposite end of the spectrum would be the Ottawa Senators. In little more than 24 hours, they have been fined a first round draft pick for their part in botching a trade between the Ducks and Golden Knights, parted ways with their longtime GM, plus their new owner openly questioned the league’s decision process. It’s been a wild week in Canada’s capital, to say the least.
On the ice, the Senators have been beset with injuries. Despite rumors swirling around Ottawa coach DJ Smith, his job appears to be safe for now.
If Smith’s counterpart in LA has any concerns heading into Thursday night’s matchup, McLellan is mostly thinking about the health of Phillip Danault, Kevin Fiala, Vladislav Gavrikov, and Jaret Anderson-Dolan. All four skipped practiced on Wednesday for what was reported as precautionary reasons. The latter has been a healthy scratch nearly the entire season and is itching to get into a game. If there is any opportunity for JAD to draw in, he will certainly make himself available. Defensively, Toby Björnfot has also seen action in only one game this season. He’s also chomping at the bit and ready to go if needed.
Regardless of how the Kings lineup ultimately shakes out, they will be looking to continue their dominance on the road when facing off against the Senators on Thursday. Following a full 60-minute performance in Toronto two nights ago, LA is carrying a perfect 4-0-0 record when playing outside Southern California to start their 2023-24 campaign. Even further, they have led for 129 minutes as the visitor this season – the second most among all NHL clubs, trailing only the Rangers (184:21) who have played three more games.
If the Kings can put together a victory tonight, they will join some rare company. Since 2010-11, the longest road winning streak to begin a season is eight games, done by the Nashville Predators in 2018-19. Winning five or more has only been done seven times.
Sure, the Kings will be looking to take advantage of a Senators team who is potentially distracted by a myriad of off-ice controversies currently facing their organization. However, LA’s potent offense has been too much to handle for even the most focused of groups.
No other team in the league is scoring at a higher rate than the Kings right now. Only the Red Wings have more total goals scored and they have played one more game than the Kings have. There has not been this much depth scoring on LA’s roster in a very long time. It’s also showing up in how they’re winning games, as McLellan and his staff are not only getting production from all four lines, even the defensemen have been chipping in. Drew Doughty leads the blueline crop in goals (4) and his partner Mikey Anderson leads in points (7).
Adrian Kempe scored his first goal with a goaltender in net on Tuesday. He has been known to be a streaky goal scorer too. If he gets hot soon, the Kings could become even more dangerous.
Another key to the team’s success of late has been the play of Quinton Byfield. He has gotten off to a great start this season, and it has not gone unnoticed by McLellan. Following Tuesday’s game, LA’s bench boss noted that his young forward seems to improve a little more every game. Byfield has been a force on the forecheck, provided strong board play, and shown a willingness to go to those dirty places on the ice to help his linemates. Through nine games played, he currently sits at six points.
LA Kings Projected Lineup vs. Ottawa Senators
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Kaliyev
Fiala – Dubois – Laferriere
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Likely scratches: Anderson-Dolan, Bjornfot
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 4:00 pm Pacific Time and will be televised by Bally sports West.
Across the Ice
Here’s how the Senators lined up at practice on Wednesday:
Zub in yellow non-contact jersey #Sens
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) November 1, 2023
For more on the drama in Ottawa this week, see here:
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) November 2, 2023
On This Day in Kings History
On November 2, 1999, Ziggy Palffy had his first multigoal game as a member of the @LAKings. Palffy and Donald Audette each scored two goals, Rob Blake recorded two points, and obliterated Pittsburgh Penguins forward Martin Straka in a 5-4 win for the #LAKings.#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/Wt3opKLXv5
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) November 2, 2023
Game day graphic created by ALo Images
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