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Kings flop in McLellan home debut, but youth-led squad triumphs in Arizona

For one day only, you get two recaps for the price of one. Michael takes you through the Kings loss at home in Los Angeles, while Sarah gives you the quick highlights of the win in Arizona.

The Kings arrived at Staples Center looking to put the nightmare of last season behind them. What played out was can only be describe as a nightmare for new head coach Todd McLellan in his debut behind the Kings bench as his B team playing in Arizona dominated in a 4-1 split squad win without him while his A team in Los Angeles sleepwalked through a 5-0 loss.

The outcome was surprising considering the Kings kept most of players expected to make the big club in Los Angeles. The lines looked something like this:

Clifford – Carter – Lewis
Kovalchuk – Kempe – Toffoli
Anderson-Dolan – Prokhorin – Luff
Kaliyev – Kupari – Rempal

Ryan – Spence
Brickley – Clague
Bjornfot – Durzi

Quick / Petersen

The action started fast with the Kings giving up a three-on-one break right after the opening faceoff which promptly led to a goal for Arizona on their first shot of the game eighteen seconds into the contest. Jonathan Quick wound up allowing three goals on the first seven shots he faced and generally looked disinterested in the entire process. Cal Petersen stopped 13 of 15 shots in relief.

Meanwhile, the Kings looked like the same offensive team we’ve experienced since 2015: plenty of low grade shots generated from the wings and side boards and nothing dangerous to make their opponents sweat hard.

Despite the score, McLellan found some building blocks within the lopsided result:

“It’s disappointing we came out with the results we had, but I think there’s some real teachable moments. I think there were some good nights by some individuals, some disappointing nights from some players that maybe know better and we expect a lot more from, but now we have evidence and that’s what we’re looking for. We can begin to sit down with some players, walk them through some shifts and some expectations and start to develop our team.”

Sometimes an outcome surprises you. The Kings took their B-squad to Arizona, with Alec Martinez filling the role of elder statesman for the travel squad. And while they had Jack Campbell in net, they were facing off against a Coyotes squad comprised largely of NHL-level players, including new acquisition Phil Kessel and starting goaltender Antti Raanta, who missed a large portion of last season due to injury.

The youth movement dominated the game from the start, outshooting the Coyotes 14-4 in the first period. Defenseman Mikey Anderson opened scoring for the Kings after a defensive breakdown for the Coyotes left him all alone in front of Raanta. While the Coyotes’ veterans tied the game up early in the second period, off of a Kessel-to-Derek Stepan connection, Mike Amadio quickly gave the Kings back the lead, and the team never looked back from there. Akil Thomas and Samuel Fagemo added goals later in the second period.

Amadio led the team with six shots on goal. Anderson, Thomas, and Carl Grundstrom each recorded two points. Jack Campbell stopped 12 of 13 shots that he faced in two periods of play. Matt Villalta stopped all 13 shots that he faced in the third period, including a Phil Kessel breakaway attempt.

No online stats were available for this game, but Kings Insider has the game sheets, if you’re into numbers.