The LA Kings resume play on Tuesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights. It will be their first game since topping the Capitals on December 19.
Tale of the Tape
LAK: 17.4% (23rd)
VGK: 19.2% (15th)
LAK: 77.4% (24th)
VGK: 76.9% (25th)
LAK: 53.6% (6th)
VGK: 46.0% (29th)
Goals per game:
Goals against per game:
LAK: Anze Kopitar – 9 goals, 18 assists, 27 points
VGK: Chandler Stephenson – 9 goals, 22 assists, 31 points
Here are three things to keep an eye on tonight:
1. NHL Debuts for $200, Alex
All signs point to the LA Kings 2019 fifth overall pick making his debut on Tuesday night. Alex Turcotte was recalled from Ontario to the team’s taxi squad and has lined up at the 2C in the last two practices in place of Phillip Danault, who remains in COVID protocol. He will become the last member of the top-ten draft picks from 2019 to make his debut, but injuries have played a role in the prolonged introduction to the NHL.
Todd McLellan confirms that Alex Turcotte has been on the cusp of an NHL opportunity before, but injuries got in the way, so this isn't out of the blue.
Plan is, if Turcotte does play tomorrow, he'll start the game at center.
— Zach Dooley (@DooleyLAK) December 27, 2021
“The ‘get ripe time,’ if you will, varies from player to player and situation to situation,” McLellan said of Turcotte in Monday’s Zoom call. “We could be talking about Alex Turcotte a lot more at the National League level if we hadn’t signed Phillip Danault, if Rasmus Kupari hadn’t played as well as he did earlier in the year. It’s great to have numerous prospects in your organization, but only so many of them can play at a given time. That doesn’t diminish Turc’s value, the type of career he may have. He’s getting the training he needs down below.”
The 20-year-old has two goals and three assists with a +6 over his last ten games at the AHL level. He’s always shown the ability to have a terrific net presence, which is exactly what the Kings could use right now. Along with his excellent two-way game, Turcotte looks primed to make an immediate impact as long as he can stay healthy.
2. Pick up where they left off?
It’s unfortunate the pause in the schedule came when it did because the Kings were really starting to play some good hockey. Over their last ten games, Los Angeles went 5-3-2, which was remarkable considering they were without Drew Doughty, Phillip Danault, and Andreas Athanasiou for portions of that stretch. Doughty has returned from the protocol and is expected to play on Tuesday.
Similarly, Vegas was on a hot streak before the week-long pause. The Golden Knights were just starting to get healthy, sporting an 8-2-0 record over their previous ten games. Shea Theodore and Chandler Stephenson were the primary points scorers, with the former collecting five points in his last five games.
Something has to give.
3. Shorthanded Knights?
Something to keep an eye on leading up to puck drop is the status of three key players in the Vegas lineup. Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and goaltender Robin Lehner did not partake in Monday’s practice, but they are not in COVID protocol. They are reportedly a game-time decision, per The Athletic‘s Jesse Granger:
Stone, Pacioretty and Lehner are not in COVID protocol. They missed today's practice with "bumps and bruises" and are all game-time decisions tomorrow in L.A.
Nic Hague skated today, and is expected to be available to play tomorrow.
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) December 27, 2021
The Knights will be without three players and their head coach Peter DeBoer, who all went into COVID protocol recently.
-No Stone, Pacioretty, or Lehner at practice
-Pietrangelo, Dadonov, Howden, DeBoer in COVID
-Rondbjerg, Leschyshyn, Miromanov, and Thompson up from AHL
-Patrick skating on 4th line in normal jersey
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) December 27, 2021
But if the aforementioned three players cannot go, the advantage swings significantly in the LA Kings’ direction.
Puck drop is set for 7:30 pm PT from the newly rebranded Crypto.com Arena. We’re still going to call it STAPLES Center, aren’t we?