10/31 Preview: Fast Waiting + Looking for Consistency, Walker Comfort, Kupari Focal Points

10/31 Preview: Fast Waiting + Looking for Consistency, Walker Comfort, Kupari Focal Points

WHO: Los Angeles Kings (5-5-0) @ St. Louis Blues (3-4-0)
WHEN: Monday, October 31 at 5:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Enterprise Center – St. Louis, MO
HOW TO WATCH: VIDEO: Bally Sports West – AUDIO – iHeart Radio -TWITTER: @DooleyLAK & @LAKings

TONIGHT’S MATCH: The Kings return to the road for three games in four nights, starting tonight at St. Louis against the Blues.

HEAD TO HEAD: The Kings and Blues had home-ice advantage last season, with the Kings winning in Los Angeles and the Blues winning twice in St. Louis. Defenseman Alex Edler led the Kings in scoring last season against the Blues, with three assists in three games played. Since Anze Kopitar entered the league, only Patrick Kane has more points against the St. Louis than Kopitar (60 of the 58 games played).

VITAL KINGS: The Kings opted not to practice yesterday before traveling to St. Louis and so they went on an all-team morning skate today in St. Louis.

Goaltender Jonathan Quick looks likely to get the nod tonight in St. Louis, as the Kings return to the veteran after Cal Petersen sat out Saturday. Quick was the first goalie out this morning at the Enterprise Center. All-time against the Blues, Quick has posted a 13-16-3 record, but has a .914 save percentage and a 2.49 goals-against average against the St. Louis.

Below is how the Kings lined up earlier this morning, with no apparent changes from how the team dressed against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday afternoon.

Kempe – Kopitar – Vilardi
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Vial – Copper – Grundstrom

Anderson – Doughty
Noble: walking


Forward Quinton Byfield did not skate today and will miss his third straight game with an illness, although he was a little better yesterday, according to Todd McLellan. Byfield is not in St. Louis, but is still not ruled out for the remaining two games of this trip. Forward Rasmus Kupari was recalled from the AHL-Ontario on Saturday and made his season debut at the 3C position, usually held by Byfield, in the win over the Maple Leafs.

VITAL BLUES: It’s been a tale of two weeks to start the season for the Blues, who started with three straight wins out of the gate but have lost their previous four games going into tonight’s action.

St. Louis had an optional skate this morning at the Enterprise Center, with goaltender Jordan Binnington as the first player in net, according to the Post Dispatch’s Jim Thomas. Binnington carries with him a career 5-4-2 record against the Kings to go along with a .919 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against average.

According to Thomas, the Blues didn’t have the full group on the ice this morning, but here’s how they lined up during yesterday’s practice:



Forward Brandon Saad has an upper body injury, did not skate this morning and is not expected to play tonight against the Blues. For Thomas, expect to see defenseman Niko Mikkola and forward Nathan Walker out tonight, with defenseman Calle Rosen and forward Logan Brown playing.

Consistency comes with more consistency
Say that five times, quick, huh?

Over the past four games, the Kings have looked much closer to the way they play. In those games, the Kings have scored 3, 4, 4, and 4 goals, showing that even by minimizing defensive risk, there is still success to be found on offense.

It’s been nine good innings for the available 12 in those four games. The wins over Toronto and Tampa Bay were as complete a performance as we’ve seen all season. The 40 minutes against Washington was a low-key affair, with the Kings ahead, while the first 20 minutes against Winnipeg could have seen the Kings out of sight had it not been for breakdowns at the other end. While consistency is still sought after, we are starting to see the desired playstyle more consistently.

“I think we’re getting closer to it, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a Picasso tonight, but we’re realizing the value of certain things again,” Todd McLellan said this morning. “It’s important and you can hear the guys talking about it a lot more, situational decisions. I said the other day, Hockey 101, there’s a lot more Hockey 101 talk in our locker room right now than there was after games three and four.”

McLellan was happy with the control effort against the Maple Leafs and there was no shortage of offensive opportunities in that game, with the Kings also converting on the power play.

In general, the Kings believe that if they play the way they want to play, the focus will naturally lead to points. Players like Drew Doughty and Adrian Kempe have talked about that notion over the last week or so, when they discussed the need and desire to fix things on the defensive side of the puck. McLellan thinks so too.

“We have to play like this,” he said. “I know there will be others who think that if they go this way, they won’t be able to score. Well, we scored a lot better against Toronto and we were still able to score, so I don’t look at that as an excuse … it’s not just one man, one staff or half a team, it’s got to be everyone believing that.”

Another chance to string things together this afternoon!

Walk this way
From Sean Walker’s perspective, Saturday’s game was perhaps the most like him he’s felt this season.

Walker returned to the lineup for the first time in over a week and was extremely effective, finishing third among defensemen in ice time at 5v5. Walker was moving pucks quickly to forwards and his legs also felt good, partnering with Alex Edler in an effective third pairing. The duo are expected to play together again tonight in St. Louis, hoping Walker can build on that performance.

“Yeah, I’d say yes,” Walker said this morning, on whether he felt more like himself on Saturday. “I think every game is getting more and more back to normal, just getting the fundamentals down and then going from there. It’s about being comfortable and confident from there.”

His head coach felt the same way about his performance.

Walker looked as confident and effective as we’ve seen all season. As Todd McLellan pointed out after the win over the Maple Leafs, Walker’s injury has made his return to action perhaps more difficult than you might think, and time lost is time lost, you can’t get it back like this. . His play Saturday, however, was simple and effective, within the system the Kings are trying to play. Good for him for a good performance.

“Yeah, closer,” McLellan said. “We talked a little bit about him and you can’t make up for lost time. No matter how hard you try and how you want to do it, wasted time is wasted time and it’s gone. Sometimes when you’re chasing that makeup phase, it becomes very difficult… we have to give him opportunities to experience it. The other night was a really good night for him, he did a lot of things well.”

Walker talked about the notion of simply playing the game at this stage, which is where he thinks he is in his comeback. Once the simple stuff starts to come more and more naturally, then he will continue to expand his game, but right now the focus is on being simple, making the right passes to the forwards and using his legs when the situation calls for it. .

“I think that’s the way we want to play in general anyway, you know, quick rebounds and if the forward is there, you get the puck to him,” Walker said. “The legs feel good, I wouldn’t say that’s what I’m specifically focusing on, if I can skate it, I’ll skate it, but if somebody’s open, I’ll make that play.”

RasmusBerry beret
Finally, hear from Kings forward Rasmus Kupari this morning from St. Louis.

Kupari was pulled before Saturday’s game against Toronto and made his season debut with Kevin Fiala and Carl Grundstrom. Kupari talked today about his play with AHL-Ontario, working on his physicality this season and playing with a player like Fiala.

“He’s a big man who skates really well and his game without the puck is something we’re proud of,” Todd McLellan said of Kupari this morning. “He does a really good job of setting things up going back to his end, he defends well, with a long stick and he’s a very good penalty killer when he has to do those things. So often, these first round picks are always trusted to score, if this guy is going to score 35 or 40, we want him to score, but there are some things he’s doing really well right now. If he keeps doing these things, he’ll keep them within reach.”

That’s all for this morning, Insiders! Minus the change in net, it looks like status quo as the Kings look to string two games together in the style of Saturday’s win, really for the first time this season. Kings at Blues, tonight starting at 5pm in Missouri. Talk soon!

#Preview #Fast #Waiting #Consistency #Walker #Comfort #Kupari #Focal #Points

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