3/12 Preview – Andersson In, Athanasiou to IR + Lias’ Path Back, Playing Kings Hockey, “Graduation”

WHO: Los Angeles Kings (32-19-8) @ San Jose Sharks (25-25-7)
WHEN: Saturday, March 12 @ 6:30 p.m. Pacific
OR: SAP Center – San Jose, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: Bally Sports West – SOUND – iHeart Radio – TWITTER: @DooleyLAK & @LAKings

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Kings and Sharks complete the home-and-away game tonight, with a Saturday night showdown in San Jose.

FACE-TO-FACE: San Jose improved to 2-0-0 this season against the Kings, with a 4-3 overtime win Thursday at Los Angeles. Forward Trevor Moore leads the Kings in the season series with three points (1-2-3) in two games played, while Phillip Danault has a goal and an assist. Today’s meeting is one of three between the teams in eight days, concluding the season series against the Sharks.

VITAL KINGS: The Kings held an optional team practice today in San Jose, although only defensemen Olli Maatta and Matt Roy were off the ice among the skaters.

Goaltender Cal Petersen didn’t skate this morning either, making him the expected starter for the Kings tonight. Petersen has yet to face the Sharks this season and brings with him a 1-3-1 record, .907 save percentage and 2.99 career goals-against average against San Jose. Overall, Petersen has won five of his last six starts and eight of his last ten.

The Kings will be forced to switch rosters once again tonight due to injury. Forward Andreas Athanasiou was placed on injured reserve today, retroactive to March 10, creating an opening for the forward position. Arthur Kaliyev is expected to take his place with Phillip Danault and Trevor Moore, while Lias Andersson is in line for his return to the roster, as he skated yesterday with Blake Lizotte and Jaret Anderson-Dolan .

Regarding Athanasiou, he is expected to be out for an “extended period”, according to Todd McLellan. At the end of Thursday’s game, the striker “came up” which resulted in another move to injured reserve. Athanasiou is the fourth Kings player to hit IR in the past six days.

At fullback, the Kings will likely continue with the youth group that skated Thursday, as Jordan Spence made his NHL debut and Jacob Moverare played in just his fourth career NHL game.

While today was an optional morning practice for the Kings, here’s how the team lined up yesterday in practice –

Grundström – Byfield – Brown

Maatta Roy
Moving – Spence


On the lines above, Drew Doughty practiced yesterday in El Segundo, in a limited capacity, but did not skate with the team this morning. Rasmus Kupari and Christian Wolanin both skated this morning in San Jose, and are projected, at this time, as tonight’s scratches.

VITAL SHARKS: The Sharks, like the Kings, haven’t played since the two teams met Thursday in Los Angeles, with the win in Southern California ending a three-game losing streak.

According to San Jose head coach Bob Boughner at yesterday’s press conference, goaltender Adin Hill is an option to return to the net tonight against the Kings as he recovers from a a wound. Today the team assigned Alex Stalock to the AHL, signaling Hill’s return. If Hill gets the nod, he’s 3-2-1 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.64 goals-against average. If the Sharks choose to return with Zach Sawchenko, his 33-save win on Thursday was his first career appearance against the Kings.

The Sharks look set to use the same lineup as Thursday night, with Bay Area News Group’s Curtis Pashelka reporting a similar roster in practice yesterday. For reference, here are Thursday’s San Jose lines at Crypto.com Arena –

Remarks –

hips don’t lie
There was a time during preseason, when the LA Kings identity was still in the making, that a player stood out by demonstrating on the ice what the team was trying to do in check before this season. .

That player was Lias Andersson.

During the preseason, skating on what was then the team’s third line with Gabriel Vilardi and Vladimir Tkachev, Andersson was a forechecking threat. He played with energy, he played with tenacity, he chased the pucks with aggression. In short, he modeled what the Kings have said they want to do this season. As a group, we’ve seen that identity shape more and more as the games go on, though it’s mostly without Andersson, who has missed all but 13 games through injury.

“It’s part of my game, it’s a part I really like,” Andersson said this morning. “Getting the pucks, being in the offensive zone and working for my teammates. I felt like I did a really good job in pre-season, I was playing really well, so I’ll try to come back to that and just be specific.

Now Andersson says he feels as good as he has this season and is ready to get back to NHL level.

His time on a conditional loan with the Ontario Reign couldn’t have been much better from a production standpoint. Andersson scored six goals in four games, including a couple for the best time, and is now back with the Kings for good, assuming he stays healthy. With three regular starters in attacking position out of the roster, the timing couldn’t be better for Andersson and the Kings as he returns to action tonight.

“I’m just trying to play my game, it’s probably the best I’ve felt all year since training camp,” Andersson said. “My body is fresh, my mind is fresh and I hope I can go out there and play my game and bring some energy. We have some really big games coming up so everyone has to play well, and me too.

Speaking to the Swede this morning, it was the first prolonged injury of his professional career. He told us that he had never experienced a fight like this with an injury before, where it was the same injury that kept him out, and that he learned and realized how the rehabilitation process is important. A learning moment for a player who has never been in this situation before.

“It’s been tough, I’ve never been injured before in my career so it’s definitely something new for me,” he said this morning. “It was sometimes very difficult, especially coming back several times with the same injury. It was difficult and I feel like I learned something from it. I just try to work hard every day and hope to stay healthy.

Staying healthy, while playing at your best, is an effective combination for a long streak here, with the Kings struggling with so many injuries. Hoping it starts with a good one tonight in San Jose.

Kings Return to Kings Style
It’s no secret, based on discussions with players and coaches, that the Kings didn’t play the way they wanted against San Jose on Thursday. Even though they built a two-goal lead and even picked up a point in overtime, it just wasn’t quite the brand of LA Kings hockey we’ve seen this team deliver this season.

Today’s responsibility is to change that, with the Kings knowing the areas in which they want to improve.

“Our overall game wasn’t very good the other night, in all aspects,” Todd McLellan said this morning. “It was faceoffs, covers, our forecheck was average at best, I thought, obviously special teams has been an ongoing conversation throughout the year. What we normally do well, we were a bit behind in some areas and we need to get back to that and make sure our foundation and our bread and butter are as good as possible, and work on the other things after that. The overall game needs to be better.

Not included in this answer, but McLellan and the team were unhappy with the number of penalties taken and the areas on the ice where the penalties were taken. Six penalties in total, with McLellan indicating after the game that four were taken in the offensive zone.

Not only do the penalties burn the Kings with two goals conceded, but it also disrupts the flow of the team and the game. As the team moved away from home, McLellan frequently preached the ability to get everyone involved in the game, and to make everyone important in the game, as a key success factor. With 12 minutes of PK time, it’s hard to do that.

“Our pace the other night, with six disadvantages, was just disastrous,” he added. “When you have the individuals out of the lineup that we have right now, and our four lines are mixed together, you like everyone to be operationally cohesive, and that hasn’t happened either.”

Back on track, the message for tonight in San Jose.

McLellan on “Graduation”
Finally, Todd McLellan talked about the “graduation” process as he put it, when asked about the transition of players like Lias Andersson or Jaret Anderson-Dolan to come to the NHL, where they play in the last six, against the AHL. , where they play the first six minutes with power-play time. His answer was detailed, deserving of using the quote in full. –

“They shouldn’t be playing a different role in the American League, they should be punishments and they should be doing the things they need to be successful here as well. The icing on the cake for them is that they can play on the power play at the American League level, but that’s called graduating. It’s happening in San Jose, it’s happening in Anaheim, it’s happening in Los Angeles, and it’s starting in the draft. Everyone gets drafted as the league’s top scorer, most valuable player, but they don’t arrive and start as the number one center, it just doesn’t happen. Some people are close to this, Connor [McDavid], Auston Matthews, maybe Jack Eichel in his year, but most of them have to move up the ranks, so there must be other skills they bring to enter the roster. JAD, Lias, the others you mentioned, they have that and it’s one of their strengths. They can check, they can play well. This team that we’re up against today, with Bonino’s line, they all came into the league as very good offensive players and they’re all still in the league because they play good roles. There’s a lesson in that for everyone in the game.”

Kings and Sharks tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the final game between the teams at the SAP Center this season.

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