10/4 Preview – Projected Lineup + Petersen expected, Clarke goes 5-for-5, Today’s Practice

WHO: Los Angeles Kings (2-1-1) @ Anaheim Ducks (3-2-0)
WHEN: Tuesday, October 4 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Honda Center – Anaheim, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: Bally Sports So-Cal – AUDIO – iHeart Radio – TWITTER: @DooleyLAK & @LAKings

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Kings and Ducks square off for the second time in three days, with the setting moving to Honda Center in Anaheim.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Kings skated to a 2-1 victory over the Ducks on Sunday evening at Crypto.com Arena, their second win of the preseason. Forwards Adrian Kempe and Arthur Kaliyev each scored in the victory, with both goals coming on the power play. Both forwards are expected to be a part of tonight’s game in Orange County.

KINGS VITALS: Below is tonight’s expected game group against Anaheim –

Kevin Fiala – Anze Kopitar – Adrian Kempe
Trevor Moore – Phillip Danault – Gabe Vilardi
Carl Grundstrom – Rasmus Kupari – Arthur Kaliyev
Brendan Lemieux – Jaret Anderson-Dolan – Lias Andersson

Defensemen – Tobias Bjornfot, Brandt Clarke, Alex Edler, Jacob Moverare, Matt Roy, Jordan Spence, Sean Walker

Seven defensemen took part in the morning skate portion of today’s practice, and naturally, we’ll see that number shrink to six by puck drop. Edler – Clarke and Walker – Roy seem likely to skate as defensive pairings, although the makeup of the third group could change. Expectation is Bjornfot – Spence on that pairing, but we’ll wait for the song.

The expectation in terms of goaltending is that Cal Petersen will get the start tonight in his first action back from a lower-body injury. Petersen sustained the injury in Vegas eight days ago and caution has been exercised with regards to his return to action. A good sign though that he’s targeted to start tonight, more on that below.

Speaking of Cal Petersen……

The Notre Dame product made his preseason debut in the second game of the exhibition season, eight days ago in Las Vegas against the Golden Knights, but he left that game after 20 minutes with a lower-body injury. Originally labeled as day-to-day, Petersen returned to the main group after a few days away, a good sign for him in his process back.

Often times with a skater coming back from injury, they’ll start in a red, non-contact jersey and eventually progress into a regular role. There’s no such thing for goaltenders, so when he’s back with the full group, he’s back with the full group.

“If you see them in our group, they’re usually one-hundred percent, because there’s no way you can put a goalie in there and tell them to take it easy, waste of time,” McLellan said. “So there’s goaltender work that’s done out of sight sometimes, different sheet of ice, just rehab work.”

Petersen indicated himself that he put in a day of work with Bill Ranford and the Kings goaltending development staff away from the full group, before making his full return. He feels ready to go and that he wants to get a full 60 minutes as he continues his preparation for the season.

From that point on, he was back with the main group and as McLellan indicated, a goaltender really can’t be in the full group without being ready to at least test a full workload in that setting. Being training camp, the Kings were perhaps extra cautious with Petersen’s injury, with no real need to rush him back. Petersen himself said he probably could have returned sooner, had there been more urgency to the situation. After tonight, assuming all goes according to play, both he and Jonathan Quick will have played a full game and a partial game, putting him just about back on track.

“The goalies are a different breed, we all know that,” McLellan said. “They get a little bit of time with Billy and his goaltending staff, sometimes even away from the team. Just movement, tracking pucks depending on what the injury is, and then they come back into the group.”

5 for 54
“He doesn’t lack confidence and he doesn’t portray arrogance. That’s a pretty good quality to have.”

That was Todd McLellan on defenseman Brandt Clarke, who appears set to skate in his fifth game out of five so far in the preseason. Clarke is the only player on the Kings to get a look in every game to date, with the team giving him as much of an introduction to the NHL as they possibly can during the exhibition season.

That’s kind of what I was hoping for, I love playing games,” Clarke said of his busy schedule. “The games are the best part of hockey so yeah, it’s been really good so far and I’m not looking for a break. I’m not tired, I’ve got that youth in me, so I still have a pretty good engine. I’m not banged up or anything, I’m ready to go every night and I’m pretty happy that they keep putting me in there.”

Clarke has had his share of eye-catching moments throughout the preseason, with perhaps the crown jewel thus far being his assist in Vegas, setting up Kevin Fiala’s first (exhibition) goal as a Kings. He’s also had his opportunities to grow as a younger player, as he learns the ins and outs of defending at the NHL level, while not sacrificing the qualities that have made him special.

He spoke about how everyone around him – from his defensive partner, Alex Edler, to the coaching staff has encouraged him to play his game throughout the preseason.

“I think so, yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing and everyone just keeps encouraging me, they keep showing me stuff to do and helping me out but they’re still encouraging me to do my thing.”

McLellan, who is naturally one of the loudest voices in that conversation, notes that Clarke is getting more and more comfortable with that combination of factors. His competition is only getting stronger as the preseason progresses, with tonight’s lineup in Anaheim set to feature NHL regulars such as Troy Terry, Adam Henrique and Ryan Strome. It could present his sternest test to date.

It’s important for Clarke to be in those situations so he can work on certain things that are different between the NHL and the OHL. It’s a game-to-game learning experience as he balances the two sides of the equation.

“He feels comfortable with his toolkit, he can use it anywhere he wants on the ice,” McLellan said. “It’s different and it’s going to get even more different as early as [tonight’s game] as more and more top-six players come into the lineup and rosters get stronger and stronger. He’s discovering his boundaries using his confidence, what can I get away with and what can’t I. So far so good. It will probably be a smaller toolbox as the league gets better, but give him credit for using the tools that he has.”

From here on out, it’s about continuing to do the things that got him here and where it goes from there, we’ll see.

“I’m really confident in myself right now, things have been going pretty well for me and I’m really happy with how I’ve been playing but you have to bring your best each game,” Clarke added. “You may have played well last game, but you have to step it up even more this game.”

The Other Guys
With the bulk roster moves made today, detailed HERE, the Kings still had a group of players practice today who are not part of the game group this evening.

That group included forward Viktor Arvidsson and defenseman Sean Durzi, who both skated this morning with the main group, in regular jerseys, but are not scheduled to play tonight in Anaheim. Arvidsson was wearing a red jersey for the second straight day, while Durzi is continuing to practice regularly with a return hopefully soon on the horizon. Arvidsson would really only be a candidate for the final exhibition game, but with both players a day-to-day approach is important.

Defensemen Mikey Anderson and Drew Doughty, as well as forwards Alex Iafallo, Blake Lizotte and Samuel Fagemo were also a part of the skate, joining the game group after around 20 minutes,

Kings and Ducks, tonight at 7 PM from the Ponda. Jared Shafran will be on site with coverage of tonight’s game and will have a full recap as per usual here on LAKI. I’ll hop in the comments throughout the game to take in the madness……see you then!

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