Practice 5/7 – Today’s Alignment + Assess the Problem, Mental Adjustments, OHL Prospects Advance
Let’s get back to it, Insiders.
Today’s skate was short overall, with a few drills designed around skating and puck movement and not a ton more beyond targeted power play work. We didn’t get a good feel for online races today, with players being separated more evenly by shirt color and less in groups of three.
Here’s how the team lined up today –
Gray: Andersson, Athanasiou, Danault, Grundström, Iafallo, Kempe, Kopitar, Moore
White: Brown, Byfield, Kaliyev, Kupari, Lemieux, Lizotte, Vilardi
Black: Anderson, Bjornfot, Durzi, Edler, Maatta, Moverare, Roy, Spence, Stecher, Strand
Goalkeepers: Quick, Petersen
After back-to-back six-goal losses, seeing some personnel changes for the Kings wouldn’t be surprising tomorrow. Today’s groupings don’t necessarily give us an indication one way or the other, but what we’ve seen a lot this season when it comes to line adjustments is keeping pairs of players together and swap the third man. That’s generally how things have gone, so the Kings needed to make adjustments before tomorrow, that’s the historical trend, as opposed to a full-fledged change.
Regarding Carl Grundstrom, who missed yesterday’s game through injury, he trained today as stated above and ‘there is a chance’ he will be available for the Kings tomorrow, according to Todd McLellan. Viktor Arvidsson was all but ruled out for Game 4 earlier today and didn’t train with the squad. McLellan prefaced both assessments by saying he hasn’t spoken with the coaches yet, so take what he said with that information in mind. 33 are certainly not expected in the roster, and we’ll see what tomorrow brings for 91.
Where to improve
“You have to give the other team credit because when they put you in a position where you walk away from your game, they do a good job, but we also have to put our thoughts and our minds together about us. We needed seven goals in Edmonton and we needed nine last night, does anyone remember the last time the Los Angeles Kings scored seven, let alone nine? not our number. I thought the first game, 2-0, was kind of a kick you know where because I thought we played a pretty solid first, but we can’t live without it As soon as you open up start chasing goals three, four and five, they get goals six, seven and eight so we need to manage the game better and we talked about that today I believe we can To do.
That was Todd McLellan when asked about improvements and where the Kings will go.
In his brief press release after Game 3, one of the phrases McLellan used was that the Kings played Edmonton’s game, not theirs. Today he has widened out, giving his thoughts first giving credit to the opposition for forcing the game in this direction, but then shifting the blame back to his group. More likely than not, the Kings won’t win a playoff game 7-6, but you only have to score seven if you give up six.
The Kings have scored seven goals exactly zero times this season. They’ve scored six goals just four times, and that would have forced extra time in Game 2 at best and still missed several goals in Game 3. We’ve watched this team play 85 games now and we know that’s not not LA Kings hockey.
That’s what needs to change from Game 4, and that’s what the Kings discussed after practice today.
Kopitar- It’s about going out tomorrow and playing the game we know how to play. It’s paying attention to detail, being solid defensively, controlling better and going from there.
Lizotte- I think we have to stick to our identity. The last two games have moved away from that and it shows, they have great players who can expose our identity when we’re not playing. I think it’s important for us to go back to our way of playing and stick to our system, which is what we’ve been doing all season.
The Kings are built to play and win close one-goal games. They are not made to win a horse race or an athletic competition, to cheat for offense in order to outsmart their opponent. Getting back to the basics of what made the Kings successful and what made them successful in Game 1 is the focus of today’s practice.
Mental vs. Physical
There are two sides to improvements – physical and mental.
At this stage of the season, there is very little a team can do physically to change anything, especially to change anything by tomorrow. You can’t learn a new system, you have the players you have and unless there’s a massive change in Viktor Arvidsson’s status over the next 24 hours, that won’t change for Game 4 .
From there it comes down to mental improvements, which were the focus this morning after training.
“I think the most important thing is mental,” said Anze Kopitar. “It’s snowballed a few times now, obviously you don’t want to score 14 in two games, but there are things we can look at and have done well. Not everything is negative and in the end we lost 2-1 in the series. You don’t want to be tagged 14 times, but we’ll fix that and prepare for tomorrow.
Todd McLellan hinted at similar thoughts when speaking to the media earlier today.
The Kings have a structure and game plan in place dating back to September. As a 99-point team in the regular season, we’ve seen what happens when that game plan works. We’ve also seen what happens when it doesn’t, like it doesn’t in the last two games here in the playoffs. It’s easier said than done to just execute as planned, but it ties back to the larger notion that Kopitar talked about, which is that these changes are mental rather than physical.
There’s a way to play the game, and after back-to-back six-goal losses, it’s all about the mental toughness to play Kings hockey in Game 4.
“It depends on the amount between the ears,” McLellan said. “I can’t answer if there’s a lot to fix, because we’ve spent a lot of time building what we know, and now when we need it, we have to rely on it and we don’t have it. fact.”
Speaking to Alex Edler and Blake Lizotte over the past 24 hours, both players spoke about the importance of focusing on this series as 2-1, with the last two games as 0-2 by opposed at 14-2. The Kings might be in this position after a pair of one-goal losses, but they’re here after a pair of six-goal losses.
In this regard, it does not matter much.
For Lizotte, his mental preparation involves controlling the things he can control. When I worked in the ECHL, our coach had a motto: there are two things you can control every time you come to the rink, your effort and your attitude. Lizotte gave her version of that quote today.
“That’s what you live for, you play 82 games, you spend the whole summer training and don’t hold it back now or be mentally loose. I think it’s important to control the things that you you can control and that’s part of the preparation. Showing up ready to play and your level of effort. You can’t always control the score, but you can control your level of effort and for me that’s something you I’m proud. As long as you give your all and bring mental acuity to the game, that’s all you can do.
OHL playoff update
To take a look down the road, two Kings forwards – Francesco Pinelli and Martin Chromiak – have each advanced to the second round of the OHL playoffs. Pinelli and the Kitchener Rangers won their first-round series in seven games against the London Knights, while Chromiak and the Kingston Frontenacs won their first-round series in six games against the Oshawa Generals.
Pinelli led his team in points in the first round, collecting eight points (3-5-8) in seven games played. Chromiak scored a ppg in the first round with six points (1-5-6) and opened the second round with a goal in a 6-4 Game 1 loss. Chromiak and Kingston trail their best-of-seven series against North Bay, while Pinelli and Kitchener start their second-round series tonight against Windsor.
Full playoff schedules for both players can be found HERE.
Finally, I joined the All The Kings Men podcast today to make sense of Game 3 with a preview of Game 4. Listen below.
That’s it for today, Insiders. Game preview to follow in the morning as the Kings look to even the series at two. A win tomorrow would guarantee Game 6 at home Wednesday, while a loss would set the Kings up for elimination Monday in Edmonton. Tomorrow’s reactions will be posted here as they arise.