In this edition of Los Angeles Kings news & rumors, I’ll discuss a few players heading into COVID protocol as some come out, the lines we might see on Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights, and the team’s newly named stadium.
Kings COVID Roster Moves
On Sunday, head coach Todd McLellan announced that both Dustin Brown and Olli Maatta would be entering COVID-19 protocol, while defenseman Drew Doughty would be activated off the list. Losing Maatta is canceled out by Doughty’s return, but the Kings will need to find someone to replace Brown on the top line. There are several options to replace him, and it looks like Alex Iafallo will take his spot, with Trevor Moore moving onto the second line.
I would have preferred Arthur Kaliyev be given a chance in the top-six over Moore, but McLellan trusts Moore to step up, and his superior 200-foot game likely plays a big role in that. The top-six that practiced Sunday lacks firepower, but that’s been an issue for the Kings for a while now. Martin Frk and Jacob Moverare were added to the taxi squad after the NHL announced they were bringing them back.
Turcotte in the NHL
With Phillip Danault and Quinton Byfield in COVID protocol, 2019 fifth-overall pick Alex Turcotte was called up from the Ontario Reign. He was also placed on the taxi squad, but McLellan mentioned that he might play Tuesday. This would be great for Turcotte, the only top-ten pick from his draft class that hasn’t made his NHL debut. He’s also a great fit to replace Danault, as they play a very similar game. Both players are defensively stellar and offensive play-drivers who make life easier on their linemates.
If Turcotte makes his debut on the second line between Moore and Viktor Arvidsson, it would be a trial by fire, taking on a big role for his first NHL game. Fortunately, he flourishes in the face of adversity and would likely step up to the challenge. McLellan said there’s a good chance we will see the same lines on Tuesday from Sunday’s practice, so fans might finally get to see him in action. Turcotte has 10 points in 18 games for the Reign this season and has excelled defensively. He’s battled through a few injuries, a common theme in the past few seasons, but the organization seems confident in his development.
Crypro.com Arena Era is Upon Us
The Kings’ Dec. 22 game against the Edmonton Oilers was postponed, so the Dec. 11 game against the Minnesota Wild became the team’s last game at Staples Center. The arena is now officially called the Crypto.com Arena, and the LA Lakers’ Christmas Day matchup against the Brooklyn Nets marked the first official game with the new name. Like the Lakers, the Kings have organized a tribute video after their 22 years at the Staples Center, including two Stanley Cup championships.
Like most arena name changes, most fans will probably continue to call it the Staples Center, just as many Anaheim Ducks fans still call their home arena “The Pond” or the “The Ponda Center.” While legally it’s no longer The Staples Center, for most people, it still is.
Kings vs. Golden Knights Game Still a Go
As of now, Tuesday’s game against the Golden Knights is still set to take place. However, the NHL’s COVID situation is constantly changing, so there’s a chance the game might still be postponed. It would be great to have hockey back on, especially with the Kings on a roll before the break.
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My name is Austin Stanovich, as a lifelong player and fan I’m hoping to bring my own unique perspective on the hockey world, specifically covering the Los Angeles Kings. As a SoCal native I grew up a Kings fan, and after graduating from Long Beach State in 2020 I’ve joined The Hockey Writers crew as a columnist for the Kings.