Marian Gaborik is back with the Kings and other notes from Saturday’s practice

Notes from the Kings’ split-squad practice Saturday …

–Injured winger Marian Gaborik was back in El Segundo. He didn’t speak to reporters about the broken foot he suffered while playing with Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey. He was wearing a protective walking-boot style cast on his right foot and needed the aid of crutches to get around the training facility.

–Jonathan Quick practiced with the B Group of players, but it remained to be determined when he would make his exhibition debut in goal, according to assistant coach David Payne. Quick could play in Sunday’s exhibition against the Ducks at Honda Center. Or it could come in exhibitions Friday or Saturday in Las Vegas.

–There’s no exact timetable for the return of Drew Dougty, Anze Kopitar and Jake Muzzin from the World Cup, Payne said. The three are due some rest and recovery time after Doughty and Muzzin’s Team Canada defeated Kopitar’s Team Europe in the two-game World Cup final. They mighty not play in any exhibitions.

–The Kings’ A Group, which includes Jeff Carter, will face the Edmonton Oilers in an exhibition Sunday in Vernon, British Columbia. Darryl Sutter will coach the team. The Kings’ B team faces the Ducks with Payne and Mike Stothers, coach of the Ontario Reign of the AHL, behind the bench at Honda Center.

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Final: Kings 6, Ducks 1

Nic Dowd scored twice and Devin Setoguchi had a goal and an assist as the Kings routed the Ducks, 6-1, in an exhibition game Wednesday at Staples Center. Justin Auger, Dustin Brown and Andy Andreoff also scored for the Kings, who are 2-1 in exhibition play. Peter Budaj made 14 saves and Thomas McCollum made 12 as the Kings split the goaltending duties evenly. The Kings outshot the Ducks, 48-27.

Here’s the link to the box score: https://www.nhl.com/gamecenter/ana-vs-lak/2016/09/28/2016010030#game=2016010030,game_state=final,game_tab=boxscore

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Kings prospect profile: Michael Mersch

At first glance, forward Michael Mersch would seem to be born to be a King. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, 224 pounds and plays the sort of aggressive style that Lombardi likes and Kings coach Darryl Sutter demands from his players. Mersch excels along the boards and in front of the net.

He would like to become a stronger skater, however. The game demands speed and he’d like to keep up with faster teammates and opponents.

“I’ve got to continue to work on that kind of stuff, the transition game, coming up the ice a little bit faster,” he said. “Getting up the ice, that’s a big thing for me. I work on the power skating. I put a lot of time and effort into that. Keep working on it, keep grinding away, and it’ll become a habit.”

It’s a work in progress for Mersch. who turns 24 on Sunday.

“Power skating has come a long way the past five years, since my freshman year in college,” he said, referring to Wisconsin, his alma mater. “There’s not much dragging stuff. You’re not carrying things behind you. It’s just fundamentals and a lot of video instruction.”

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Kings training camp battle for ice time at center could include prospect Adrian Kempe

Going into Wednesday’s exhibition against the Ducks, it would appear three and possibly four players could be battling for ice time as the Kings’ third- and fourth-line centers. Andy Andreoff, Trevor Lewis and Nick Shore filled those roles last season, but now a fourth name has emerged as a candidate.

Adrian Kempe, a 20-year-old first-round draft pick in 2014, got a chance to play between Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli during the Kings’ 4-3 split-squad exhibition victory Monday over the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center.. Kempe didn’t have a goal or an assist, but Pearson and Toffoli had one of each.

Although he’s listed as a left wing (or right wing, depending on the website you search for information), Kempe played center quite a bit last season with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey because of injuries to other players. So, it wasn’t a stretch to see him playing Monday between Pearson and Toffoli. Kempe was credited with two shots on goal, one hit and nine victories in 18 faceoffs in 16:26.

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Kings center Nick Shore talks about watching and learning from the best last season

Kings center Nick Shore continues his resume-building from last season, when he played 68 games and scored three goals and 10 points. He didn’t exactly light the league on fire offensively, but he did receive a daily tutorial for this season and for those to come.

“You have two world-class centermen to watch every day,” the 24-year-old Shore said of Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. “You get to watch them every day in practice and see how they play. It’s definitely a learning experience and you try to take as much as you can from it.

“’Kopi’ does pretty much everything well. He’s so poised with the puck, and he does it on both ends. He has just about as complete a game as it comes. It’s the same with Jeff. He gets up and down the ice so quick that it creates a lot of chances. Both are huge parts of the team.”

Now it’s time for Shore to put the lessons to good use.

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Split-squad scores: Kings 4-3, Coyotes 3-5

The Kings and Arizona Coyotes split a pair of games Monday, their exhibition openers. The Kings defeated the Coyotes 4-3 at Staples Center and the Coyotes beat the Kings 5-3 at Glendale, Ariz.

Lucas Lessio, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson (power play) and Brett Sutter scored for the Kings in L.A., and Jeff Zatkoff made 18 saves in two periods. Teddy Purcell (power play), Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford (power play) scored for the Kings in Arizona, and Peter Budaj made 10 saves in 40 minutes.

The Kings continue exhibition play Wednesday against the Ducks at Staples.

 

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Kings homecoming (part 2): Jeff Zatkoff says he’s where he wants to be after free-agent signing

Jeff Zatkoff knew what he was getting into when he signed a two-season, $1.8-million contract last summer. He understood the job description called for long, thankless hours of hard work during the day followed by extended periods of inactivity during the evening.

Zatkoff took the plunge anyway.

The opportunity was too good to pass up.

Plus, he had a connection to the Kings, who drafted him in the third round (74th overall) in 2006. Goaltending coach Bill Ranford tutored him, mentored him, but couldn’t offer him a single appearance in an NHL game before losing him to the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent in 2012.

Zatkoff returned to the Kings as a free agent July 1, after a four-year absence.

“I had interest from other teams, but at the end of the day, this is where I wanted to be,” said Zatkoff, who was 4-7-0 with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 14 games last season with the Stanley Cup champion Penguins.

Zatkoff, 29, isn’t likely to play very many games with the Kings this season. If all goes as planned, Jonathan Quick will play and Zatkoff will sit on the bench. Zatkoff also will work his tail off after practice in case something goes awry with his more accomplished and heralded teammate.

Quick’s backups normally play only a handful of games each season. Jhonas Enroth played 16 games last season and Martin Jones appeared in 15 in 2014-15. Enroth departed as a free agent during the off-season; Jones was traded in the summer of ’15.

“I think you know the situation when you come to L.A.,” Zatkoff said. “You want to play as many games as you can, but at the same time you’re playing behind arguably the best goalie in the league, one of them, anyway. That’s part of the job here.

“You’ve got be able to go in and play when you’re called upon, whether it’s 15 games, 10 games, 20 games, just depending on the circumstance, and be able to provide that leadership in the locker room and be a good teammate and be ready to go when your number is called, and win.

“I know my role here. I just want to do my job.”

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Kings winger Marian Gaborik injured while playing with Team Europe in World Cup

Kings winger Marian Gaborik suffered an unspecified lower-body injury while playing Sunday in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto “that we’re still managing,” Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger told reporters Monday. Krueger couldn’t confirm a diagnosis or say when Gaborik would be fit to play again.

Team Europe advanced to the best-of-3 final against Canada with a 3-2 overtime victory in the semifinals Sunday over Sweden. Gaborik was injured blocking a shot during the second period but did continue to play in the third. He departed Monday’s practice on crutches, according to reports.

Krueger wouldn’t say whether Gaborik left with his leg in a cast.

Gaborik has two goals and a team-leading 13 shots on goal in four games while playing on a line for Europe with Kings teammate Anze Kopitar. He scored only 12 goals and 22 points in 54 games last season with the Kings, suffering from a lingering knee injury that forced him to the injured reserve list.

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Kings homecoming (part 1): Teddy Purcell battles for ice time in familiar surroundings

Teddy Purcell was here once before. It was six years ago, but it seems as if it was only yesterday. The Kings’ training facility is the same now, but different. Many of the faces are familiar, making his homecoming all the more comfortable, the transition to a new team far easier.

“The weight room has a retractable roof now,” Purcell said Saturday after the first of two practice sessions at the Kings’ workout facility. “It’s almost funny when you hear about it, especially when you come from Edmonton and your car doesn’t start when you leave the rink.”

No sub-zero temperatures are in the forecast in Southern California, where summer seems to go on and on. Old friends such as Trevor Lewis and Alec Martinez helped get Purcell settled and re-acclimated to the land of year-round sun and perpetually warm weather.

“I bought a beach cruiser,” Purcell said, smiling.

The Kings signed the 30-year-old Purcell to a one-season, $1.6-million contract after the departure July 1 of Milan Lucic, who signed a seven-year, $42-million contract with the Edmonton Oilers during the off-season, a deal the Kings could not afford in match in salary or duration.

Purcell began his NHL career with the Kings in 2007-08, signing as a free agent after one standout season at the University of Maine, and spent parts of three seasons with them before they traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010. He’s also played with Edmonton and Florida.

Now he’s back, trying to secure a place on the Kings’ third or fourth lines while providing some much-needed scoring depth for a team that’s sound on its first two lines in that department, but seriously lacking in firepower beyond its top six forwards.

Purcell scored 14 goals and 43 points in 76 games last season, playing 15 of his final 76 games with the Panthers after a trade from the Oilers. Overall, he has 101 goals and 305 points in 559 games in nine seasons in the NHL.

Purcell isn’t sure where Kings coach Darryl Sutter might play him.

“I think it’s too early,” Purcell said. “That kind of stuff will take care of itself. (But) anybody would be lying if they said they didn’t like to play with guys like (Jeff) Carter and (Anze) Kopitar. If I take care of my stuff, it’ll work out and we’ll go from there.”

Purcell said he wants to make a good first impression during his second stint with the Kings.

“The first thing for me is I’ve got to gain the coaches’ trust,” he said. “I’ve got to show I’m responsible away from the puck. It kind of sounds selfish, but if you do well and gain their trust, they’re going to slot you into positions to succeed.

“We talked about some stuff in the the summer, but it changes almost daily at training camp. When I was younger, you kind of analyze it and beat yourself to death and not sleep over it, but as an older guy you just kind of go out and take care of your own business.”

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Kings vs. Kings lineups (spoiler: not many veterans are playing)

The Kings vs. Kings scrimmage Sunday afternoon in Ontario is short on veterans. Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin are with Canada in the World Cup in Toronto. Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik are with Team Europe. Game 1 of the final round between Canada and Europe is Tuesday, so they won’t be back for exhibitions Monday against Arizona or Wednesday against the Ducks.

Goaltender Jonathan Quick (Team USA) also isn’t playing Sunday

Among the top prospects, the Kings’ white team features forwards Adrian Kempe and NIc Dowd. The black team features forwards Andy Andreoff and Michael Latta.

Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Jeff Zatkoff are scratched.

 

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