11/11 Practice: Dive into lineup changes and the state of the power play with Todd McLellan
Happy Friday, Insiders!
Today we are full of articles. If you haven’t read it yet, Jared Shafran’s feature on Alex Turcotte today is a great read. Turcotte takes us through his recovery process, from the check to the nod he received in last season’s AHL playoffs, through a tough summer and finally getting back into the lineup with the Ontario Reign yesterday in the evening in San Jose.
Nice to see Turcotte back in action and here’s hoping for good health moving forward. I would expect to see him again this weekend as the Reign continue their early season success. Also in action yesterday was forward Quinton Byfield, who missed several games with the Kings due to an illness that caused him to lose a lot of weight. Now he’s working his way back to fitness, and while he didn’t score a point, he was on the ice for two of Ontario’s three goals yesterday and made a selfless check in overtime that preserved a chance to win on penalties, even if there was a chance. was not taken Good signs for those two, as well as forward Samuel Fagemo, who returned to the lineup for the first time since October 29.
Many times on the farm.
With the big club, the Kings are back on the ice today as the pace of the schedule begins to pick up. In many areas of the game, we’ve seen that pace hit translate to ice. The Kings have played dramatically better defensively lately. Three of the last four games have seen the team allow one or fewer goals playing 5-on-5. Aside from the Florida game, the Kings have allowed a total of five goals during 5-on-5 play between their previous six games. As Phil Danault said last night, it’s more like Kings hockey.
As for today’s practice, there were a couple of larger talking points after the skate as Todd McLellan addressed the media and broadcasters who attended today’s skate. The first of these topics concerns the balance that exists between maintaining momentum and continuing a winning lineup versus the potential of “losing” a player who isn’t playing. The second issue was regarding a power play unit that has struggled from a production standpoint of late.
McLellan said last night that he believes a power play is all about rhythm. The Kings have found their rhythm in many areas of the game but special teams has not been one of them. The games against Minnesota and Chicago were closer than they should have been, in part because the power play failed to convert. The Blackhawks power play was in control when they were on the ice last night, leading to their only goal scored on a night where the even strength game was generally controlled by the Kings.
An area of focus the Kings spent more time working on during today’s practice.
“We’re a work in progress and we’ll talk about that,” McLellan said of the power play. “We have a new coach who comes in with some power play ideas, it doesn’t happen right away. Sometimes it kicks in and you try to add a little bit more, and as you add a little bit more, you disrupt what you had, because they start thinking again. When we’re just playing, when teams play special teams, it’s valuable. When teams think about it, you can still be good, but you’re probably not where you want to be.”
McLellan emphasized the idea that on the power play, the Kings are not expected to be stuck in one spot on the ice. It’s a concept we picked up during the pre-season and it was extremely refreshing and looked effective in the early going. Even through the struggles recently, we’re seeing new concepts tested and players trying to pivot as intended and that’s been evident in practice.
During today’s skate, we saw a slightly different look, but the bottom line is that there isn’t just one lineup that the Kings have. We’re talking about Anze Kopitar as a netminder, Adrian Kempe at center, and Drew Doughty in a one-time position on the left. It’s a new look that we haven’t seen before, but if things play out as intended, it’s not meant to be THE look, but a look. This is why the Kings are working.
“Part of our power play problem is everybody thinks they have a place to play and they have to get to that place,” McLellan said. “That’s not how it works. It’s hockey, you’re going to roll and be in different spots. If Kopi ends up in front of the net, great, but he could end up on the blue line running stuff from up there, you’ve got to be interchangeable parts and not you’ll be predictable if you’re moving. If you’re standing in the same places and it’s predictable if you’re standing still.”
With that in mind, there are no apparent changes to the lines with how the Kings lined up during today’s practice.
Kempe – Kopitar – Vilardi
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Vial – Copper – Grundstrom
Anderson – Doughty
Fast / Petersen
And that brings us nicely to the second story we discussed today. It was actually the first sequentially, but I thought the story unfolded better that way.
This is the notion of the balance between consistency and stability that the Kings have built and created over the last few games. The Kings have won three straight games, with points in four straight, using the same lineup of 12 forwards, six defensemen and starting goaltender in each of the four games. The only line not on the ice for multiple 5-on-5 goals during that span has been the Fiala – Kupari – Grundstrom line, but if you expand the time frame to seven games, they’ve been on the ice for the majority of goals between the four lines. So the balance is there. The 5-on-5 defense is also much improved, with the Edler-Walker pairing, the “third pairing” if you will, looking as intended, controlling 60 percent of shot attempts and allowing just one goal against . On the web, Jonathan Quick has been exactly Jonathan Quick.
As McLellan said when asked about the lineup selection, “We’re trying to do everything we can to win as a group and we make decisions based on that, as simple as that.”
The job here, day in and day out, is to win the game in front of you and it’s the job of the coaching staff to select the group they think does the best. The flip side, though, is that the Kings want to avoid a situation where a player doesn’t play for four straight games, like Brandt Clarke and Cal Petersen have done, or seven straight games like Jaret Anderson-Dolan. There is a risk of “losing” a player, to use an expression McLellan has used in the past. It’s a balance and it’s one the Kings are currently working on.
“It’s really Clarkie and JAD right now, the two guys that have been out for more than two or three games and it’s not easy,” McLellan said. “We have to look at them as individuals, and they’re great human beings to begin with, they want to be there, but when they’re not, we have to be accountable as a staff to make sure they’re ready to be there. . That’s the hard part, because JAD has lost the most and worked hard, so we have to understand that we have to make sure he gets his reps, but we also have to help him when he’s ready to go. to be on the team, no matter where you are in your career, sometimes it’s accepting it and it’s not always easy.”
As for Petersen specifically, you can’t reconfigure a lineup to get him into a game, it has to be an option on a given night between him and Quick. Over the past four games, Quick has gone 3-0-1 with a shutout over Minnesota and just one goal against Chicago. Quick’s save percentage has been .936 and he’s been a rock most nights. That said, Petersen remains an important part of a goaltending tandem that will have to see some sort of split as the season progresses.
“Yeah, I think it’s different [with goalies]it’s one or the other,” McLellan said. “With forwards, you pick between 12 bodies, but with a goaltender, it’s a team game and you have an individual spot. With forwards, you have three guys you have to “intertwining your play, defensive pairings, five at a time, different units. Goalies play with the team all the time, but they play their position as an individual more than anyone else.”
As for Clarke, contracts and logistical ramifications aside, he’s going through something he’s certainly never experienced in his career so far. Clarke has always been a star player and you’d imagine he’s never been a healthy scratch in his career, as most players of his skill level and pedigree haven’t been. He didn’t even deserve to be a healthy scratch here with the Kings, but there hasn’t been another odd man out lately, with more consistency shown by the other players who have missed a game this season in Sean Durzi. and Sean Walker.
“They don’t know what they don’t know, so when they come in, they’re not sure how this is all going to happen. Think about it, they’ve had a dream their whole life to play in the NHL, now they’ve arrived and now they’re here, so d “ok what’s up? Play a game, practice the next day, but now I’m out, what do I do now, how am I doing, why is this happening to me? We need to spend a lot of time talking to these people, maybe Clarkie more than JAD right now, because he’s come and things are going well and suddenly you’re not in the lineup, but why, how do you need to? behave? He’s never been a healthy scratch in his entire life. Pee wee, bantam, midget, juniors, he’s just kept playing. His approach to the day might be, throughout his career so far, maybe more like what Drew Doughty does after playing 30 minutes a night. Drew’s responsibility in the practice might be a little different than Brandt Clarke’s, just because of minutes, time and experience. So Brandt is Drew in junior, but Brandt is already in junior He has to understand all this and we have to help them.”
Knowing the type of player Clarke is, it’s hard to imagine he won’t get there. Very high potential, who can contribute at this level, and someone with the ability to contribute for the Kings as the season progresses. Where is your situation,
There are a lot of longer quotes today, but the quotes I felt were important to provide the head coach’s perspective as they relate to a couple of the bigger talking points as we’ve seen them develop and escalate during the last few days. They skate tomorrow morning before the Kings look to make it a 4-for-4 homestand with the Detroit Red Wings in town.
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