They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
- Jul 28, 2004
All that remains for LA before the All-Star break is a three-game road trip that kicks off Friday in Colorado. It’s continued to be a disappointing stretch of games for the Kings, yet things won’t come any easier against the Avalanche — who carry a .677 points percentage, fourth best in the NHL.
Following the Kings loss to the Sabres last time out, coach Todd McLellan spoke candidly about being on the hot seat, not shying away from the subject.
“I’m responsible for this,” said McLellan, referring to the team’s two wins in their past 14 games. “When you look at the team that played the first 25-30 games, it doesn’t look like the team that’s playing right now and I’m responsible for it. Our staff is doing what we can, or what we believe we can, to get them to turn it around. We’re trying different things at different times, but I’m going to keep pushing away, I’m going to try and push buttons, poke people, praise people, look at how we do things. Our numbers, our underlying numbers, say we’re more the first half team than the second half team, but the win column doesn’t say that and that’s all that matters. So, it’s a very fair question.”
Despite the team’s coach taking responsibility for the outcomes, his players pointed the finger at themselves.
“It comes down to this room,” added captain Anze Kopitar. “[The coaches] give us a plan, they give us the structure, they give us the motivation or the kick in the butt, [however] it’s about the guys that have to bring it out on the ice and make things happen.”
Drew Doughty had quite a bit more to say about the subject here:
As far as lineup changes are concerned, Arthur Kaliyev is expected to get some playing time on this trip. Given the lack of production coming from LA’s fourth line, perhaps he can provide a much-needed spark.
Defenseman Jordan Spence is also an option to draw in tonight. Spence seems likely to replace Brandt Clarke due to the fact that Colorado is an offensive juggernaut and he does have more NHL experience against that caliber of opponent.
As discussed on the latest Kings of the Podcast episode, the goaltending is becoming a real problem. All-Star Cam Talbot is winless in his last nine starts, dating back to early December. His game has definitely fallen off of late, with several of the five goals against Buffalo appearing to be stoppable. Meanwhile, David Rittich has been more like a Pheonix Copley 2.0, in the sense that he seems to have a better chance at pulling out a victory, despite not having great numbers. Just a couple of weeks ago, it almost seemed impossible that GM Rob Blake would make a move for a goaltender. Now, although still unlikely due to cap reasons, the topic is at least on the table.
After tonight, the Kings will play in a matinee game at St. Louis on Sunday, then they’ll face the Predators in Nashville on Wednesday.
What happens over the next six days will obviously have a huge impact on what’s talked about during the team’s 10-day break from Feb. 1-10.
— No Kings skater has more multi-point efforts this season than Adrian Kempe’s 12.
— Anze Kopitar has eight points (all assists) over his last four games against the Avalanche, dating back to March 9, 2023.
— With his 12th assist of the season on Wednesday, and the 95th point of his career, Matt Roy is now just five points shy of becoming the fifth American-born defenseman in franchise history to record 100 career points.
— Quinton Byfield’s 20th assist of the season on Wednesday established a new single season career-high for the team’s top young forward. He also extended his point streak into a third game (2G, 2A), marking his third different three-game point streak this season.
— At some point, the second power play unit should benefit from Viktor Arvidsson’s return. PL Dubois averaged 5.3 pts/60 on the power play over the past the seasons in Winnipeg. He’s at 1.1 this season with only two points (both goals). Jordan Spence only has two assists with the man advantage, plus Phil Danault and Arthur Kaliyev have also seen a 50% decline from their power play rates from last season.
Danault is scoring 3.8pts/60 on the power play, compared to last season when he had 7.1/60. Kaliyev is at 3.7pts/60 on the power play vs. 6.1pts/60 with the man advantage last season.
How much did Arvidsson likely help prop up those numbers? Last year, he recorded 8.7pts/60(!) when the Kings were on the power play.
Kings Projected Lineup vs. Avalanche
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Moore
JAD – Dubois – Laferriere
Grundstrom – Lewis – Kaliyev
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Likely scratches: Clarke, Fagemo
Injured: Arvidsson (LTIR), Copley (LTIR)
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 6:00 pm Pacific Time and will be televised by Bally Sports.
Across the Ice
Colorado is coming off a 6-2 Victory against Washington on Wednesday.
Here’s how they lined up for that one:
Drouin – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Wood – Colton – O’Connor
Cogliano – Johansen – Lehkonen
MacDermid – Olofsson – Kiviranta
Toews – Makar
Girard – Manson
Byram – Malinski
In their last 10 games, the Avs are 7-3-0. As the home team, they’re 19-5-0 this season.
On This Day in Kings History
On January 26, 1981, Charlie Simmer became the fastest player in @LAKings' history to score 50 goals in a season. Simmer scored his 50th goal in his 51st game of the season in a 7-5 win over the Quebec Nordiques.#LAKings #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/hgn6SnGOyF
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) January 26, 2024