Kings hope extra practices mean success vs. Ducks

Sports

The Los Angeles Kings received some unexpected time off over the weekend, so they put it to good use heading into their game on Tuesday against the visiting Anaheim Ducks.

The Kings were scheduled to play at the Colorado Avalanche on Friday and Sunday, but the series was called off when a third member of the Avalanche tested positive for COVID-19.

The Kings (16-20-6) were already in Denver when the cancellations were announced on Friday afternoon, so they flew back to Los Angeles and had two full days of practice on Sunday and Monday.

Los Angeles enters the week seven points back of the final playoff spot in the West Division with 14 games left. Three of those games are against the Arizona Coyotes, who hold fourth place in the West.

Kings coach Todd McLellan said among the areas the team focused on during the practices were their forecheck, defending outnumbered rushes and special teams.

“We’re trying to touch a lot of areas,” McLellan said on Sunday. “It happens in a regular season, when you have to go back and review everything you did in training camp. You just have more time to do it. You may get a segment like we’re in, where you play a game and then get another two-three days (off). We’ve got to pick our poison, and those are some of the areas that we looked at.”

The Ducks (14-25-7) are coming off back-to-back losses to the visiting Vegas Golden Knights in which they combined for two goals.

Anaheim was a combined 0-for-6 on the power play in the two games to drop to last in the NHL in power-play efficiency at 10.7 percent.

“It’s a key component of any game, really,” Ducks center Adam Henrique said of the power play. “It’s the game within the game, that special teams battle. Our power play certainly isn’t where it needs to be. You need to get goals and produce and create momentum.”

The Ducks have been considerably better on the road with their power play, owning a 20 percent success rate, which ranks in the middle of the league. It’s their 4.8 percent mark at home that’s been baffling.

“I’m not very good at doing Rubik’s Cube, and it’s like that for me,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said of the disparity between the home and away power-play success. “We’re (20 percent) on the road and our numbers at home are awful.”

The Kings should be stronger along their blue line as defenseman Matt Roy rejoined the team for practice on Sunday after missing the past seven games while in the league’s COVID-19 protocol. Los Angeles went 2-5-0 without Roy in the lineup.

Tobias Bjornfot, another Los Angeles defenseman, went through a full-contact practice on Sunday for the first time since taking an elbow to the head against the Golden Knights on March 31.

“I think our record without (Roy) indicates how important he is,” McLellan said. “We have some very capable players that have filled in for him and Toby when they were out of the lineup, but it’s a lot better when they’re in the right pecking order, getting the right minutes against the right players.”

–Field Level Media

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