Good evening, insiders!
Another day of training here at the Toyota Sports Performance Center as opening night approaches six days into the day. Kings are at the point where they need to start making decisions about the moves of the final roster. Todd McClellan has now described the group as players in one of three distinct categories, all with varying degrees of importance over the course of those next two games.
“They’re gearing up and shining,” McClellan said of the last two games during the show’s season. “I think we now have players who fall into three different groups. We have guys who have been in really good camps and are superior, maybe you don’t have to worry about them. We have players who have struggled recently and obviously maybe they’re not ready, maybe you don’t have to worry about them. Then we have a group in the middle that doesn’t.” Still finding its way.”
The Kings have two matches left to rate that middle group, which can really be split between them. McClellan noted that the pairing between Philip Danault and Trevor Moore is on the set, albeit for reasons beyond their individual control.
“Take Phil Danault’s streak, they’ve only played two games, one was in Ontario, it was a terrible night under different circumstances, so they’re still trying to find their game,” McClellan said. “We’ll make sure that in these next two games, we try to prepare and feel good about ourselves individually and collectively, and then we move on from there, but part of the opportunity is lost for a lot of the players.”
This isn’t even meant to be a blow to Danault and Moore, but perhaps just an indication that they may need more in terms of the next three days than the others. Danault missed two days of camp with a minor injury and he and Moore didn’t participate in an exhibition match until the third time. The second streak has played one game less than the top streak and we’ll see if that means Moore and Danault appear tomorrow night at Utah, plus what we can expect should be close to a full slate on Saturday in Los Angeles.
This middle group also includes individuals who have not yet established their destinies during camp, and the player list still has more players than the available list positions. Regardless of what happens in terms of performance for Danault and Moore, the NHL talents were established and locked in to the squad on October 11th. Tomorrow’s meeting with the Golden Knights will likely be the last chance for the selected individuals to prove that they should be part of the NHL squad.
Doors for the first time forward
With five pre-season games, we’ve yet to see Defender Shawn Dorzy’s debut.
After undergoing shoulder surgery last off-season, Dorzi’s comeback path has been consistent, although perhaps at a slightly slower pace than we thought upon entering training camp. Last week, he was back in the main group in his usual contact shirt, on a day that brought him close behind to where he needed to be, but he wasn’t quite ready to step up the game. That’s been true for about a week now, and the Kings have competed in two pre-season competitions since then, with Dorzy not participating in either.
However, it looks like we’re at a point where that might be close to changing. Todd McClellan and his crew saw the work Dorzy did and indicated that those who needed to clear him to play a game have now done so. Initially, there was hope that Durzi could skate in 1-2 showrunners and with two remaining on the calendar, that possibility still exists. There are no guarantees that tomorrow will be in Salt Lake City, but it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibilities either.
“We’re confident he did the work,” McClellan said. “The people who needed to sign it signed it. Now, it’s about getting him represented in game situations to make sure he feels comfortable and confident in his game and the team game.”
McClellan is self-confident and thinks it’s a good thing Dorzy is confident too.
From a player’s point of view, he’s got the level of confidence he should have, which he probably didn’t when he got back with the main group for the first time. Durzi still takes on this process day in and day out, but he’s also very optimistic going forward.
“I’m very confident,” Dorzi said. “I mean, at the end of the day, I have a good team around me who will make the best decision but personally, I’m confident and I feel better than ever and I’m motivated. I enjoy it, but at the end of the day you want to play, that’s why you do it, that’s why you compete and that’s Feeling competitive every day is what I look forward to. I’m one hundred percent confident, I feel good, we’ll see what the future brings here.”
Durzi is the second to last piece of the puzzle when it comes to entering the exhibition competition. With Sean Walker already back, and Victor Arvidsson hoping to get even closer to his return to the game, hopefully Durzi will be the next player to come back.
Regarding his reintegration into contact and the main group here in the camp, it went well. Dorzi noted that it’s good that his shoulder feels better than it did last season, a point he made during the rehab process. Now it’s about repetition, both in workouts and in games, as he takes the next step toward a full comeback.
“It’s been good, I’ve had a good two weeks and we have two games coming up, so we’ll see what happens there, but we’re feeling better, we’re feeling better every day,” he added. “Like I said before, it feels good to feel better than it did last season. I will continue to work to get my stuff, get the actors and feel better every day.”
Chrome domes at home
Finally, the Kings announced their schedule for the “90s Era adidas Heritage Jersey” which they affectionately know by the shiny shirts worn in shiny helmets.
The Kings will wear their substitutions on opening night against Vegas, one of eight times the team has worn the jersey and helmet combination. Six of those matches will be played on ice at home, including the last two of the 2022-23 regular season. The Kings will also skate in the uniforms that have been put on twice on the road, once at the Honda Center in Anaheim and again at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Full table is listed below –
• Tuesday October 11th vs. Vegas (Opening Night)
• Saturday 29 October vs Toronto
• Friday 17 February @ Anaheim
• Saturday, February 18 vs. Arizona
• Sunday February 26 @ NY Rangers
• Saturday, March 25th vs. Winnipeg
• Saturday, April 8th vs. Colorado
• Monday 10 April vs Vancouver
Opening night will also include a gift for all fans in attendance, with silver balls completing the alternate look. The fan festival will take place before the game from 4pm-7pm, with fans encouraged to get in their seats early for 7pm, with special festivities for Season 1. Expect some changes to the paddock experience this season, with a lot of that coming up against Vegas in six days.
Morning skate to continue tomorrow morning before you head off to Utah for a Frozen Fury game. The Kings and Golden Knights tomorrow night from Salt Lake City, the penultimate game of the 2022 season.