Daily News Kings feeling healthy ahead of another playoff matchup against Edmonton


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
EL SEGUNDO – With the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs awaiting the L.A. Kings in Edmonton on Monday, the best-attended practice of the year featured a full house in the stands cheering on a full complement of skaters at the Toyota Performance Center.

The Kings didn’t play a single game this year with every player available. On Saturday, interim head coach Jim Hiller, who guided the Kings to a third place finish in the Pacific Division after taking the role in February, saw the fully formed team that will seek to avoid a third straight opening round loss to the Oilers.

“It’s been a long road, there’s no question,” Hiller said. “So credit to the guys who picked up slack when we had injuries. But yeah it’s great.”

Carl Grundstrom practiced after being recalled from his conditioning loan. Hiller expects the Swedish winger to be ready and in the lineup.

“Carl got a chance to play a couple games in the American League, did well,” Hiller said. “He practiced well out there today. It’s a different pace, of course but yeah we’re excited. It goes to the point: we feel strong. We feel like we got everybody together. We’re strong. Raise our emotional level and let’s go.”

An estimated 3,500 fans turned out for the morning session and saw “a really good practice,” from Hiller’s perspective, who actually mentioned to team captain Anze Kopitar and how energetic it felt inside the building.

“He pointed out that the stands were full,” Hiller said. “I didn’t even think about it. Maybe that’s the reason. I was hoping it was just because we were excited to get out there. There were people in the stands so there were cheers when a couple nice goals went in. But I think we’re pretty focused. Without the fans today, I think the practice would have been very similar. It was businesslike. I thought we were moving pretty well.”

Goaltender Aaron Dell also joined the group after being recalled from the Ontario Reign.

Hiller said he knows which way he’s leaning for the starter in Game 1, but did not tip his hand between 2024 All-Star Cam Talbot (27-20, 2.5 goals against) or David Rittich (13-6 2.15 goals against).

For the third time to be the charm against Connor McDavid, Leon Draitsil and the speedy, talented Oilers, the Kings will need to rely on all of their parts.

To do damage while competing for a Stanley Cup, said defenseman Drew Doughty, you need to go through the best teams either way. This, not redemption, has occupied his mind since losing in six games last year.


Series schedule, all times PT

Game 1: Monday, at Edmonton, 7 p.m. (Bally Sports SoCal, ESPN2)

Game 2: Wednesday at Edmonton, 7 p.m. (Bally Sports West, TBS)

Game 3: Friday, April 26, at Crypto.com Arena, 7:30 p.m. (Bally Sports West, TBS)

Game 4: Sunday, April 28, at Crypto.com Arena, 7:30 p.m. (Bally Sports West, TBS)

Game 5 (if nec.): Wednesday, May 1, at Edmonton

Game 6 (if nec.): Friday, May 3, at Crypto.com Arena

Game 7 (if nec.): Sunday, May 5, at Edmonton

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