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Preview: For young Kings on the bubble, one last opportunity to impress

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The Kings take on the Golden Knights to close out the preseason.

Vegas Golden Knights v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

How to Watch

Game Time: 7:00 PM Pacific

TV: NHL Network, KTVN (Reno)

Radio: LA Kings Audio Network

Opposition: Knights on Ice

What to Watch

  • The Kings lace up for their last preseason game tonight against the Golden Knights at MGM Arena. The 23-man final roster must be submitted by October 1st. Kings insider Jon Rosen noted that neither Rasmus Kupari nor Jaret Anderson-Dolan participated in yesterday’s skate. He felt their absence likely indicated neither will start the year with the big club. Not surprisingly — after all, he is an Insider — both names were absent from tonight’s active roster.
  • Kupari, a speedy, Finnish forward, was clearly the Kings’ best player at the Rookie Face-off hosted by the Ducks earlier this month. I can’t argue with Rob Blake and Todd McLellan if the Plan is to get him significant ice-time in Ontario and become acclimated to the North American game. If Kupari plays up to his potential and adjusts to the North American game, he’ll be called up sooner rather than later. Anderson-Dolan turned 20 years-old earlier this month and has used up his junior eligibility. Since being drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft he was returned to Spokane of the WHL, with five game cups of coffee in both Ontario (2018) and Los Angeles (2019). Anderson-Dolan is being counted on as a future goal scorer, but with his lack of significant professional experience I’m sure the team’s idea here is to get him some significant ice-time. Considering the team ranked 30th out of 31 teams last year in goals scored and 27th out of 31 teams in power-play percentage, look for Anderson-Dolan to be called up quickly if the team has trouble lighting the lamp, or for any other reason it looks like the playoffs are just not going to happen.
  • One rookie in tonight’s lineup who has made a strong impression on fans, management, and teammates is Tobias Bjornfot. Selected at number 22 in this years draft, the 18-year old Swede logged over 20 minutes of ice time alongside Drew Doughty earlier in the week in the home win over the Ducks. However, neither played Wednesday night in Anaheim. Was Todd McLellan foreshadowing that the future of these two players is linked? Today’s roster announcement seems to imply that.
  • Tonight’s starting goalie was not revealed at press time but it’s unlikely to be Jonathan Quick, who played the whole game Wednesday night in Anaheim after Jack Campbell played the first two periods and Cal Petersen the third period in Monday’s combined 3-0 shutout over the Ducks. I expect Campbell to start.
  • After making the Stanley Cup Finals in 2017-18 , the Knights might have repeated as Western Conference champs had they not suffered a massive collapse after being penalized on a horrible five-minute major call.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal believes however that the team can make another strong Stanley Cup run. VGK has outstanding goal scoring depth amongst the top six forwards, including Mark Stone and Jonathan Marchessault. However, age is creeping up on the other end of the ice, with defenseman Deryk Engelland turning 37, and potential Hall-of-Famer Marc Andre Fleury coming off a 61-game season and turning 35 in the next two months. Unlike the Kings, the Golden Knights have another exhibition game, so there is still time for the team to experiment in finding a solid back-up, including Oscar Dansk who turned away 36 shots in the Knights victory last weekend at Staples.

Lineups

Los Angeles Kings

Iafallo — Kopitar — Brown
Kovalchuk — Kempe — Carter
Wagner — Lizotte — Toffoli
Clifford — Amadio — Lewis

Bjornfot — Doughty
Martinez — Roy
Hutton — Walker

Vegas Golden Knights