1. Bring back Austin Strand
Ahead of Wednesday’s game, the LA Kings have to figure out a way to get Austin Strand back into the lineup. He was called up to the taxi squad on Tuesday, but unlike the last time he was with the NHL club, there is a logjam on the right side.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Sean Walker. His ability and courage to come back from a puck to the face is nothing short of heroic. He’s accounted for nearly 190 minutes of on-ice time this season but has accounted for a 43.9 xGF%. Going one step further, when Walker is on the bench, the Kings have a 46.7 xGF%, per NaturalStatTrick.
Going back to Strand.
He played excellent in Walker’s absence and helped steady Olli Maatta when he was struggling to figure out Todd McLellan’s system. In just under 100 minutes of on-ice time, the undrafted free agent defenseman accumulated a 48.4 xGF%. Of course, Strand isn’t known for his offensive prowess along the blueline.
But in a limited sample size, he’s proven to positively impact the defensive unit.