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The Kings took to the ice this morning for a full team practice in El Segundo ahead of tomorrow’s Pacific Division showdown against Edmonton.
The Kings gave several of their most clocked players a day off from practice yesterday, while others were able to spend time on the ice as needed. Today saw each of the healthy players on the ice, as well as the trio of Dustin Brown, Brendan Lemieux and Matt Roy, who have now joined the full squad for three straight days. Also, forward Andreas Athanasiou was on the ice today wearing a non-contact red jersey.
Brown – Andersson – Athanasiou (red)
All nine defenders rotated during drills, giving us less than an affirmative look at potential pairings, but we saw that approach at least in one set of drills.
Bjornfot – Moverare – Strand
Rapid / Petersen
Probably more of a confirmed preview of tomorrow’s lineup to follow during morning skating.
“We could win some and lose some, the way it goes,” said Todd McLellan when asked about tomorrow’s roster. “We will probably have to make a decision, some decisions will be made for us regarding the bumps and bruises.”
Some interesting decisions are certainly ahead of us. The Kings will eventually have to decide who is inside and who is forward and defense, and after that they will have to decide who plays in what role. Defenders Mikey Anderson and Drew Doughty, along with forward Blake Lizotte, are still out of action, though the importance of the three will certainly impact the conversation as they get closer to a comeback.
Full team practice (!)
It’s been a minute.
Perhaps the last time the Kings had a real full-team practice was on trade deadline day on March 21. Now the whole group has been on the ice for practices by then, but there is a difference between just a practice that everyone is there for and a real practice.
“It’s probably been 10 days, right around the trade deadline,” Todd McLellan said today. “We played eight games in 13 days, there will be no full training in this segment. Yesterday was good training for half the team, guys with few minutes and injured, today today was a good team practice.
Today the Kings held the latter – a REAL practice – with a focus on the ice to prepare for some of the details surrounding the Edmonton game tomorrow, as well as a fresh look at special teams. More on that below.
“The good thing was full practice today, we haven’t had that in a long time, a good 40 minutes of full teamwork,” McLellan said. “Our group needed it, I hope it pays off, but given the schedule, there won’t be many left, so let’s take advantage of it when we can. It was good like that. »
For today though, it was good to get everyone together for a full team skate, with McLellan sharing that the team was able to implement a few Edmonton-specific elements into today’s skate, putting into practice video learning. Trevor Moore talked about how Edmonton uses the net in the offensive zone, owning the puck under the goal line and bringing bodies up front.
Although the upcoming schedule is lighter, which could allow for additional opportunities, there is also the balance between training time and rest time. We’ve seen what rest can do – the game in Winnipeg for example – but we’ve also seen what a game can look like after a rest day gone wrong, i.e. the 6-1 loss. against Seattle.
Either way, days like today will be cherished by players and coaches alike for their significance going forward.
“It’s good, it feels like a week honestly,” Trevor Moore said today. “It was a good refresher, getting our legs back under us, it’s been pretty busy. It’s important to get the rest and then we can watch more videos about us, and some more structural stuff that will help us here.
Special teams representatives
It hasn’t always been noticeable, but the numbers would show large-scale improvement in special teams over the last slate of games.
The Kings are 20 of 21 shorthanded in that span, and they’ve scored a power-play goal in six of eight games.
“The penalty kill is improving, the power play has had a bit of a spike and now it’s kinda come back and needs to improve,” McLellan said today.
When it comes to the penalty kill specifically, McLellan and Moore saw some aspects of that part of the game improving and perhaps more importantly, becoming more consistent and familiar. Things like communication, both verbal and visual, and comfort and fit with pairings have come a long way.
Moore- A short time ago we tried to be more aggressive, but we tried to be more talkative and help each other. Guys move so much, these power plays are so good, you can have someone else to be your eyes and it helps things that way.
McLellan- Our partners, especially in attack, have become much more frequent in the last two months, unless one of them is in the penalty box. The starting pair was Kopi and Al, it changed a bit, it allowed them to be fresher later on. Communication happens, we think it’s just verbal, but it’s also anticipating and reading where the puck might go next, being predictable shorthanded, and also body language or giving visual cues to whoever’s on the ice cream. If Mooresy talks about it and he feels it has improved, that’s a good sign for us.
On the power play, Moore felt today’s practice was good to give those units some reps. One of the things you don’t get a ton of reps for, when the team isn’t practicing a lot, is the power play.
An interesting point was brought up by Kings radio analyst Daryl Evans who wondered if in a team with a team like the Kings where a lot of the personnel is the same between the power play and the penalty kill , can you learn from one area to help the other. Moore was okay with the idea and perhaps put the blame on him and his teammates to see how they can fit it in. Here’s McLellan’s take –
“That should help you, because you get a sense of what it feels like to be in a comfortable or uncomfortable situation. When you’re in a knockout, you’re trying to put the opponent in an awkward situation where they have to make quick decisions and low percentage decisions. When you’re on the power play, you do the opposite. You’d think sensation transference, if that’s the best word, would go from one to the other, but we’re still struggling with that.
Tradin’ Jabs with Peters
Finally, Insiders, a conversation with Chris Peters, who joined the Tradin’ Jabs program today to discuss the plethora of young players currently playing with the LA Kings, and those soon to be on the way.
An in-depth look below –
More to come, Insiders, as we prepare for Edmonton tomorrow. Today’s skate, as noted, centered around the Oilers, and two huge points are on the line with very little help for the Kings via yesterday’s games. Go Canucks. Speak soon!