– It was an optional skate this morning, after the late-night arrival from San Jose. Both goalies and perhaps 10-12 skaters on the ice this morning.
– Raitis Ivanans won’t play tonight, not surprisingly given that the side of his face was a swollen mess after last night’s game. Since it’s a back-to-back situation and there are six days off after tonight’s game, there won’t be a callup from Manchester. Obviously if Ivanans is going to be out a while, there will be. So that means John Zeiler back in the lineup tonight and Kevin Dallman as the only scratch, unless someone gets hit by a slap shot between now and 7:30 p.m.
– Jason LaBarbera is back in goal tonight. J.S. Aubin got quite a workout in practice. The coaches put him through a series of drills, most of which were focused on rebound control. I asked LaBarbera about the concept of maintaining momentum. You hear starting pitchers talk about it in baseball, about wanting to follow up a teammate’s effort with a solid effort, so I asked LaBarbera if that translated to goalies. “You don’t want to be the guy to let everyone down,” LaBarbera said, “especially if the team played well and won the last game. At the same time, you don’t want to think about it too much because you don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself.”
I asked LaBarbera if he learned anything about San Jose by watching from the bench, any tendencies that might help him tonight. He said, “For me, I’ve never really focused on what the other team is doing. It’s nice to see how they set up the power play and how they set up in the offensive zone, but for the most part I focus on myself. If I worry too much about what the other team is doing, I’ll think too much. I don’t even like to know what we’re doing. I just focus on myself and how I play.”
– Tonight’s game will truly be the home debut for Matt Moulson. He was with the Kings in training camp last year and this year but has never played a game at Staples Center. He said the only exhibition games he played were at the Pond/Honda Center. Moulson scored a goal in his NHL debut Friday and said he enjoyed the experience, even though it was a bit harrowing at first. “My head was spinning a little when he first came out,” Moulson said. “It was pretty loud and I caught myself looking around a little. I was pretty excited but after the first couple shifts I calmed down. I had (Derek Armstrong) and Scott Thornton there to calm me down during the game. If I made a bad play, they would talk to me and tell me to just keep playing hard.”
– The Kings put together an impressive victory last night, but one number was glaring: the 47 shots on goal the Kings allowed the Sharks. I asked Jack Johnson what he took away from that game and how he interpreted that shot total. “Shot totals can be deceiving,” Johnson said. “Just because they get a lot of shots doesn’t mean the quality was great. Aubin definitely stood on his head at times and (the Sharks) did have some quality chances.”
I asked Johnson if he thought the Sharks got frustrated, after they scored just one goal on 20 first-period shots, and started to make mistakes. He said, “We just kind of had to weather the storm. San Jose, they typically come out flying in the first period, particularly the first half of the first period. I think we showed a lot, from the standpoint that we were able to come back strong after that.”
Finally, I asked Jack about the upcoming six-day break and the importance, from a mental standpoint, of going into it with a victory and remaining in first place in the Pacific Division. “We definitely want to secure the No. 1 spot and feel good going into those six days off,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to give it all tonight and then rest up during those six days.”
– Regardless of tonight’s result, the Kings will take tomorrow off and return to practice Monday morning.