Don’t look now. Sports are back. Sort of.
The Kings play the first of two split-squad games, with half of the team staying at home and the other half hitting the road to take on the Arizona Coyotes. (The Coyotes are sending half of their squad to LA.) We’re a long way off from being able to glean much about what the Kings are really going to look like this season, with so many young players destined to be returned to juniors still on the roster, but the game’s still worth a watch … or, well, listen.
Game Time: 7:00 PM Pacific (away squad) / 7:30 PM Pacific (home squad)
Radio: The Patriot 1150; iHeartRadio (allegedly) (Phoenix: ESPN 620 AM)
The Opposition: Five For Howling
WHAT AND WHAT TO TO
WATCH LISTEN FOR
- Tonight’s game in Los Angeles marks the first time we’ll see John Stevens behind the bench this year. Reign head coach Mike Stothers worked all of the rookie games in Vegas (and will be coaching the Kings squad going to Arizona). Stevens has been pretty quiet so far in discussing what changes the team will make in strategy this year; when he took the helm last year, he talked a lot about wanting the Kings to play an up-tempo, offensively creative game. As we saw as the season wore on, though, Darryl Sutter’s habits are hard to break, and the Kings didn’t often look very different from the on-ice product from years’ past. Will we start to see glimpses of any changes the Kings have in mind, systems-wise, this year?
- This is Kings fans first chance to see Ilya Kovalchuk in an actual game. He scored a pretty nifty shoot-out goal in the Kings vs. Kings scrimmage this weekend in Ontario, but tonight we’ll actually get to see him in action alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. He hasn’t played an NHL game since 2013 and while a pre-season split squad game isn’t ever going to be on his highlight reel, let’s see what he’s got.
- The bubble guys. This team has plenty of players who are looking to earn a regular NHL gig this year. Keep an eye on players like Mike Amadio, Jonny Brodzinski, Paul LaDue, and Oscar Fantenberg to see how they respond to the challenge. (All four of those guys are on the team going to Arizona.)
- As we discussed today in our player profile, Alex Iafallo might be starting the season on a line with Adrian Kempe. They’re paired together tonight, with Sheldon Rempal on the right wing. Rempal is a long shot to make the team, but he did well in the rookie games and has a chance tonight to show what he can do alongside two regular NHLers.
Kovalchuk - Kopitar - Brown— Zach Dooley (@ReignInsider) September 18, 2018
Iafallo - Kempe - Rempal
Wagner - JAD - Luff
Devane - Thomas - Lewis
Reddekopp - Doughty
Muzzin - Roy
Martinez - Lintuniemi
#LAKings Glendale, AZ group:— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) September 18, 2018
Looking like Phillips, who is skating, may be an extra. pic.twitter.com/sB0fX7ev1H
.@ArizonaCoyotes rosters for tonight's split-squad preseason games vs. @LAKings ... pic.twitter.com/E2CKFydYMH— Dave Vest (@davest4yotes) September 18, 2018