LA Kings head coach Todd McLellan indicated that Rasmus Kupari will not play against the Blues on Wednesday, but he could play later this week.
Despite being called up to the LA Kings taxi squad earlier this week, don’t expect Rasmus Kupari to play on Wednesday in the series finale against the St. Louis Blues. Head coach Todd McLellan made that very clear to the media on Tuesday, but he also said Kupari could play later on the road trip.
“He’s not going to play tomorrow night against St. Louis,” McLellan confirmed. “He won’t get that opportunity, and I don’t know where our team will be injury-wise, fatigue-wise, or performance-wise as we move forward. He’s certainly knocking on the door as far as getting his opportunity. He’s done some really good things starting with his homework.
“Following his injury, he worked really hard on overcoming that, and physically when he came back, you could tell that he did the homework. There’s guys that kind of half-assed it. He did it all, and he’s been rewarded [at] the American League level with a good start to a season.”
As McLellan alluded to, prior to being called up to the NHL club, Kupari led the AHL in points with one goal and seven assists through seven games. The Ontario Reign are off until Saturday, so perhaps there’s a scenario out there where the 20-year-old plays on Friday against the Wild before resuming play in the AHL on Saturday evening.
It can be challenging for a coach to insert new blood into a lineup, especially when that team is riding a five-game win streak and six-game point streak. However, McLellan made a good point that a small lineup change has been made prior to every game on this streak.
“We have to put what we think will be the best lineup on the ice on any given night,” McLellan explained. “And by no means are we always right. We take a calculated estimation of who’s played well in certain situations against teams, line combinations, pairings, special teams, and the confidence level of certain individuals. So you know, we never just make a change for change’s sake. I guess is the best way to put it.”
Noting the lineup changes, the LA Kings have welcomed back Blake Lizotte, Andreas Athanasiou, Matt Roy, and Sean Walker, all within the last week or so. If there were anywhere for Kupari to get his feet wet, it would be along the team’s fourth line in place of Michael Amadio.
The Kings’ third-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft has not played well this season, tallying just two assists in 13 games. With the influx of youth on the way, Amadio is one of a couple of players likely to be put on waivers.