Preview: Calgary Flames (2-1-0) @ Los Angeles Kings (2-0-0)
How to Watch and What to Watch
It’s been quite the early lay-off for the Kings, who spent the time off practicing, yes, but also getting to know one another. John Stevens brought in a group to do some team-building exercises, one of which involved Dustin Brown essentially high-jumping over a rope. All things considered, maybe we should count ourselves lucky that no nebulous lower-body injuries came out of the Kings’ togetherness time.
For a team that’s been through a lot of turmoil over the past few years, while it might feel a little touchy-feely to many of us (and to many of the players, too), finding ways to come together -- integrating new players, strengthening ties between returning guys, maybe learning something new about each other in the process -- could go a long way towards seeing them all work together as a unit. Taking some time to focus on the people wearing the skates -- not just the end product of what they do once they put those skates on -- is a nice step in building a “new” Kings team.
On ice, there are probably not many changes for the Kings. Based on earlier practices, it looks like Andy Andreoff is drawing in on that rotating third line winger spot. I could probably write a whole other post about my confusion over what they’re trying to accomplish with that Kempe line, but I’m trying to be patient. So I’ll hold my tongue for now, and let you guys have feelings about it instead.
It seems a bit of a waste to just have Paul LaDue here doing nothing, but teams are always loathe to change anything after wins, so he most likely will continue to be the odd man out. If Alec Martinez’s injury keeps him out longer, and if Kurtis MacDermid’s ice time continues to fall (he played under six minutes against the Sharks), possibly LaDue could see some ice time.
For Calgary? There’s only one storyline tonight:
Confirmed: Jaromir Jagr will make his #Flames debut tonight! pic.twitter.com/O6tnspqwqW— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) October 11, 2017
Jaromir Jagr eases into the season, playing on the third line with Sam Bennett and blink-and-you’ll-miss-him former King Kris Versteeg. I don’t know that either of them are ideal linemates for the hockey legend -- I have spent enough time watching Versteeg skate that I’m having a hard time envisioning him ever being in the right place to catch a pass from Jagr -- but we’ll see.
Overall, the Flames are increasingly stacked with speedy, skilled players, and they bolstered their blue line in the off-season with the addition of Travis Hamonic. They’re a completely different type of team than the Kings have faced so far, and Calgary is almost certainly going to be a team the Kings are going to have to bypass in order to get back into the playoffs. Their fourth line is -- uh, slightly less than skilled, let’s say, but will be annoying to deal with all night long. Having Andy Andreoff, Kyle Clifford, and Kurtis MacDermid all in the lineup tonight may in fact be a strategic decision based less on the play of the healthy scratch trio of Brodzinski, Dowd, and LaDue, and more to do with the fact that Calgary has its fair share of pests on the team.
Mike Smith’s in net. This could be an adventure.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
Cammalleri - Kempe - Andreoff
Clifford - Shore - Lewis
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Folin
MacDermid - Fantenberg
Gaudreau - Monahan - Ferland
Tkachuk - Backlund - Frolik
Versteeg - Bennett - Jagr
Glass - Stajan - Brouwer
Giordano - Hamilton
Brodie - Hamonic
Bartkowski - Stone
Opposing Preview: Matchsticks and Gasoline