After being idle since Saturday, the Kings are set to return to action Thursday night against the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Florida Panthers. For Todd McLellan’s group, they didn’t just take the four days off, though. Along with a few practices — where there was a heavy focus on the power play — he wanted his team to use this short break as a reset button. Despite the recent struggles on home ice, the team is still holding an 8-3-3 record overall. It’s now time to end their modest two-game losing streak.
Following their most recent loss to the Flyers, McLellan admitted there is some worry about the team’s inability to win at home. The issues don’t seem to be related to offensive abilities. When Carl Grundstrom has six goals on November 16th while playing on the fourth line, it suggests the team has some serious depth. Up top, Quinton Byfield is playing some of the best hockey of his young career and is at nearly a point-per-game pace so far. The problems appear to be some of the bigger names aren’t performing at a consistent enough level over the past month. Kevin Fiala and Pierre-Luc Dubois have yet to get things going, at least not to the extent McLellan had hoped. To collect more points at home, both guys will likely need to help lead that effort.
While the penalty kill has improved drastically in 2023-24, last year’s lethal power play has slipped a bit. Thus, LA took much of their practice time over the past few days to work on special teams; hoping to find something that will work a tad better. It remains no secret that the absence of Viktor Arvidsson has hurt them when playing with the man advantage, largely because of his elite playmaking ability. With No. 33 still at least a month (likely longer) away from returning, McLellan and assistant coach Jim Hiller are looking at several creative solutions. Generally speaking, it will remain a collective effort to get the power-play going.
If trends matter, the Kings have scored on the man-advantage in each of the last four games against the Panthers played in Downtown LA. And all-time, the Kings have scored 21 goals in 79 man-advantage opportunities for a power-play percentage of 26.6%, the highest among any team vs. Florida at home.
Defensively speaking, in 14 games this season, the Kings have allowed only six power-play goals during 47 shorthanded opportunities. That gives them a penalty-killing percentage of 87.2%, fifth best in the NHL. McLellan’s squad also enters tonight with 14 straight penalties killed against the Panthers.
Lineup changes are coming, as hinted at in yesterday’s article:
Look for Jaret Anderson-Dolan to draw in on third line tonight, in part for the reasons described above.
Additionally, the Kings officially assigned Toby Bjornfot to AHL Ontario for a conditioning assignment earlier today. In his absence, they’ve recalled Jacob Moverare from the Reign. He’s appeared in 12 games this season, picking up three assists along the way. The 25-year-old blueliner has briefly appeared in NHL games for the Kings each of the past two seasons. He also has received tremendous praise from Mark Yannetti, saying he had the “highest hockey IQ of [all] defensemen in the Draft” the year he was selected.
Similar to Brandt Clarke’s conditioning assignment last season, Bjornfot can play with Ontario for two weeks. His first game is expected to be tomorrow night at home in Ontario.
As for the Kings-Panthers matchup, it’s a series that historically has favored LA — especially at home, where the Kings have an all-time record of 16-6-0-0 (.727 PTS%) in 22 games against Florida at Crypto.com Arena. The Kings also have a five-game winning streak against the Panthers, dating back to Feb. 20, 2020.
Several stats you might not have known:
– Andreas Englund leads the team in penalties drawn (8)
– Matt Roy leads the Kings in blocked shots (31) and in hits (34). He also has a four-game point streak against the Panthers.
– Arthur Kaliyev has the second-most PPG (16) among 2019 NHL Draftees
– Anze Kopitar has 11 blocked shots, the most among all Kings forwards
– Adrian Kempe currently has a career-long nine-game point streak (6G, 7A) going. If he pushes that to 10 games by collecting a point tonight, he will become the first Kings player to establish a double-digit point streak since Dustin Brown did it in 2012.
Somehow, we made it this far into today’s preview without even mentioning Drew Doughty vs. Matthew Tkachuk.
Reminder — these same two teams will play a preseason game in Quebec City next year. More information on that is available in the article linked down below.
Kings Projected Lineup vs. Panthers
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Moore
JAD – Dubois – Kaliyev
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Likely scratches: Laferriere, Moverare
Injured Reserve: Arvidsson (LTIR)
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 7:30 pm PST and will be televised by Bally Sports West.
For those live in attendance, the LA Kings Booster Club will offer their popular ‘Puck for a Buck’ contest — featuring Phil Danault for this game. Just $1 could win you an autographed puck from an NHL star. Visit their table outside sections 317-318 on the upper concourse for more information.
Across the Ice
Florida is coming off a 5-3 victory in San Jose on Tuesday night. Here’s how they lined up this morning:
FLA Panthers lines this AM in LA-
— Katie Engleson (@KatieEngleson) November 16, 2023
As a reminder, Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov seems to enjoy playing against LA. In 14 career games vs. the Kings he has 16 points (7G,9A).
Florida Panthers game day. Taking it back to 2017 as the Cats ended a 15-year winless streak in Los Angeles thanks to one of the more insane goals that Aleksander Barkov has ever pulled off. #TimeToHunt #FlaPanthers #NHL pic.twitter.com/StSbZ3uefw
— Panthers Historian (@FlaCatsHistory) November 16, 2023
On This Day in Kings History
On November 16, 1991, @LAKings head coach Tom Webster was ejected for throwing a stick at referee Kerry Fraser in a game against the Red Wings. The stick-throwing incident earned Webster the longest suspension to an NHL coach (12 games), and a $10,000 fine.#LAKings #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/EYopNihhJM
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) November 16, 2023
Lineup graphic via ALo Images
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