10/8 Preview – Gameday Ideas + Byfield Update, Net Play, Versatility at the Bottom

Who is the: Los Angeles Kings (2-3-1) – Anaheim Ducks (4-2-0)
what or what: NHL PRESEASON GAME
when: Saturday October 8 @ 1:00 pm Pacific Ocean
where: Crypto.com Arena – Los Angeles, California
How to proceed: Video: Bali Sports So Cal – My voice – i heart radio – Twitter: Tweet embed & Tweet embed

Tonight’s match: The Kings are approaching their pre-season finals this afternoon, hosting the Anaheim Ducks for a game at the Crypto.com Arena.

face to face: The Kings and Ducks have split their pre-season meetings thus far, with each team winning at home. Gabi Velardi and Arthur Kaliev each scored two goals from the two games, while Jonathan Quick won in Los Angeles with 24 saves on October 2.

Kings of Vitals: Without skiing this morning, we’re guessing a bit with today’s lineup, but here’s an overview of what we saw of the Kings when they were healthy…

Kevin Fiala – Anzi Kopetar – Adrien Quimby
Trevor Moore – Philip Danault – Victor Arvidson
Alex Yavalo – Quinton Byfield – Arthur Kaliev
Brendan Lemieux – Blake Liszot – Karl Grundstrom
Garrett Anderson Dolan – Rasmus Kopari – Gabi Velardi

Mickey Anderson – Drew Dottie
Sean Walker – Matt Roy
Alex Adler – Sean Dorzy
Jacob Mofrier – Brandt Clark

Jonathan Quick
Cal Petersen
Phoenix Copley

It wouldn’t be out of the question to see an additional name added to that roster from those recently assigned to the AHL, but there’s at least a strong assumption that today’s game against Anaheim will be the closest we’ve seen so far in terms of the full Kings roster. There is something to be said for not only engaging individuals and providing them with pace, but also seeing everyone play in their expected roles in the squad at the same time. We haven’t quite got that yet and it could be today’s match when we see it.

Not to see him go more than a week without playing a game, the expectation for today is goalkeeper Jonathan Quick to start between the tubes. Quick has only allowed two goals out of 4+ periods of exhibition work so far, and if he does start this afternoon, he’ll wrap up this afternoon’s pre-season roster against the Ducks.

Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

Koenning time
Welcome back Quinton Byfield!

After missing a series of skates due to illness, Byfield has skated with the group over the past two days, including a full practice yesterday. Byfield’s absence was notable, but it came at least while he was able to enter a couple of early Showtime games, so he’s not playing catch-up to the degree that some of the others have.

Byfield also played for Rookie Faceoff in San Jose which continued into training camp, giving him a few extra matches to get him under his belt. Regardless, he’s missed a few chances to get more games under his belt, so he’s treating tomorrow as an important step toward getting ready for opening night.

“I have to look at it like it was my first game,” Bifield said. “It’s my first match, so I have to be prepared for that, and there’s no time to waste. Just leave everything there and then hopefully I’ll be ready to open the house.”

As he got back into the equation, he noted that a little extra rest wasn’t a bad thing, but he certainly didn’t outgrow getting into camp every day and getting ahead with the team.

“I got a good rest, you know, I’ve been playing a lot of hockey, so that was great but you want to play hockey every day,” Bifield said, looking at the pros of the situation if you like that. “It definitely sucked, but they’ve let me easily get back into it for the past two or three days, so I think I’m back to speed with cardio and everything. I’m just trying to get back into it.”

As he heads toward today’s game, he will likely enter between Alex Yavalo and Arthur Kaliev in the team’s third offensive line. The trio made waves early in training camp, establishing themselves as an energetic group that excelled in forward screening in the attack zone, using a tenacious approach to create multiple looks and offensively extended sequences.

Assuming they’re all playing, today will be their second game as a streak, after the Empire Classic in Ontario, and we’ll talk about how to translate that play into live action.

home protection
Drew Dottie and Todd McClellan talked about the concept of grid play after yesterday’s workout, as Kings focused on the smaller details yesterday to improve their final pre-season performance.

“Our net play, quite frankly, wasn’t very good,” McClellan said. “We spent a large part of the training [yesterday] I am only working on that specific area and would like to see it come to fruition as soon as tomorrow. It will be a work in progress.”

Dottie also felt the Kings have been lacking in this area over the past two games, noting that it’s something you can’t really focus on during the summer because of the fitness and teamwork it entails.

“[Yesterday] Practically speaking, we focused on net play.” “We’ve been struggling a little bit all pre-season and that’s something you obviously don’t work during the summer because you’re not trying to hurt guys or anything like that. That’s something that you need to take back during pre-season, because you can’t work on it, maybe the main things, defending for real and pure play.”

It’s also something, along with many other smaller and more elaborate aspects of the game, that you need a smaller group on the snowboard to get the most out of.

Early in camp, with more bodies on the ice, the repetition is reduced and the ability to make impressive progress out of those little details is reduced.

With a group that has been somewhat reduced to an NHL-sized squad, these things are being focused more and more on.

“The workouts at the beginning of camp are a bit slow, a lot of guys, and you don’t get enough reps,” Dottie added. “Now that we narrow it down we can work on individual things, like at the end of the training we worked on 2 on 2 and 1 on 1 and things like that. If you have to start camp, there are too many guys and guys not getting reps .so you have to wait until you pair it up.”

As McClellan said, things are in progress now, with the Kings expected to continue to improve rapidly.

Deep V-shaped.
As we continue into opening night, the Kings have some decisions that still need to be formalized over the next 48 hours. At the moment, the list has more than 23 names and decisions must be made as to who is on the list for the first game versus Vegas and from there, who is in the lineup for that game.

Squad decisions are one thing, as they affect that game directly, but players vying for a spot in the squad are more likely to make the team if they aren’t among the skaters in the first game. When decisions exceed those of the final players on the list, your team is allowed three more players. This configuration usually constitutes two attackers and one defensive man, although the Kings did not rule out the possibility of carrying eight men of defense, for a variety of factors.

Having players in those final roles requires a few elements, with diversity being one of those elements, Todd McClellan also highlights the reliable player element.

“This player has to be a reliable player,” McClellan said. “The eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, seventh or eighth day, you have to be someone you trust because you may not go every night but when your number is called, we must be able to trust you to come in and do the job on both sides of the dial.” .

A follow-up came about how much we were able to see players used in different roles during the show season.

One player who has been used in every role imaginable is Garrett Anderson Dolan, who has featured in the front three at one time or another. This is definitely not a bad thing in his arsenal. Rasmus Kupari can play central and wing, as is the case with the recently reassigned Lias Andersson.

“We have [moved players around] Throughout the show season, some by design, sometimes when it just happens.” “Players on the left side, right side, I think Anderson Dolan has played just about everywhere. You’re trying to calculate where he fits best, or where that group fits in in case of injury, poor play and how you spot them.”

While there won’t be any single factor likely to put a player on the shortlist, or put him out of play, it’s good to hear thoughts on some of what he’s playing at.

Kings and Ducks, today at 1pm from Crypto.com Arena. I’ll see you later!

Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

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