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 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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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 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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L.A. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez talks about scoring twice … only one counted

Here’s what Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said after a strange play in which he appeared to score only to have the puck bounce back to him before he sent it back into the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday: “I thought the first one went in, but I looked at the ref and he was shaking his head and so I just tried to put it in again just for good measure.”

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Tyler Toffoli owns up to bad penalty in L.A. Kings loss to Vancouver Canucks

Kings forward Tyler Toffoli needed a little coaxing to talk to reporters after his boarding major and game misconduct led to the go-ahead power-play goal for the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday at Staples Center. When he did speak, he wasn’t particularly candid at first, but then he owned up to his mistake.

“I don’t really know what happened,” Toffoli said of his hit from behind that sent Vancouver’s Alex Burrows crashing into the boards in front of the Kings’ bench. “It all happened really quickly. I haven’t seen anything yet (on the replay). … Then I came into the room, and I haven’t thought about it too much.”

Later, he got a bit more expansive.

“It sucks,” Toffoli said of his boarding major and game misconduct and what happened as a result of the play. “I wish it didn’t happen. I wish we had won the game. I feel like it’s on my shoulders right now, and it’s not a good feeling.”


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Pregame reading: L.A. Kings Tanner Pearson talks about his broken ankle

Tanner Pearson talked at some length Saturday about his broken left ankle, bunking at Anze Kopitar’s house for a while, touring the White House on crutches and trying to get back into the lineup in time to help the Kings as soon as possible.

“He approached me before and asked me if I wanted to stay and I was kind of too stubborn at the time to say, yes, and then my parents gave it to me pretty good about not being able to stand on my own,” Pearson said of accepting Kopitar’s invitation to stay while he was hobbling on crutches. “At the last minute, I decided to go to his house. I stayed four or five days.”

Pearson said he ditched the crutches two days ago.

“Making progress, taking it day by day,” he said.

Pearson has been walking and riding a stationary bike.

“Just walking, you get moving again,” he said. “It takes time. It’s nice because you can see the improvements. That’s a good thing. Things are looking positive. Honestly, I have no idea (of a timetable). It’s tough to say. It’s a whole different thing when you put your foot in a skate. It takes time. Right at the start, it doesn’t feel 100 percent in the skate, so you have to get used to that, too.”

Pearson said he wouldn’t have missed the White House trip for anything.

“I probably wouldn’t have (traveled), but with the White House … ” he said, smiling broadly at the memory. “It was nice to be with the guys rather than sitting at home doing nothing, watching TV. I was moving around the while trip. It was kind of a pain lugging bags around and being on crutches.”

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Meet That 70s Line 2.0, the line that’s been carrying the L.A. Kings

Tomorrow’s notebook lead today …

The good news for the Kings is a line centered by Jeff Carter is carrying the team again, leading it to three consecutive victories. The bad news is a line centered by Carter is carrying the team again, leading it to three consecutive victories.

Carter and wingers Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli ignited a 6-1-1 start to the season for the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings. Now, with Pearson sidelined by a broken leg, Dwight King has joined Carter and Toffoli, and if the Kings are a one-line team again, then so be it.

Meet That 70s Line 2.0.

Toffoli recorded his first NHL hat trick and added an assist in the Kings’ 5-3 victory Thursday over the Calgary Flames. Carter had three assists and King had one goal and one assist in the pivotal third period, when the Kings broke open a close game.

Thursday’s game had the look and feel of a Kings contest from October, when That 70s Line ran wild. It was a short-lived hot streak for the three players with uniform numbers in the 70s, and the Kings came crashing to earth and, ultimately, out of a playoff position.

When coach Darryl Sutter shifted King onto the line with Carter and Toffoli, things began to click offensively again. Maybe it’s the uniform numbers. After all, King wears No. 74 on his jersey, joining No. 77 Carter and No. 73 Toffoli.

Whatever it is, the Kings couldn’t have won Thursday without That 70s Line.

“We’ve been trying to kind of work from our end out, the whole team,” Carter said of his line’s standout play during a three-game winning streak. “I think it’s been coming along, especially near the end of the road trip we saw it paying off for us. And again tonight.”

Toffoli, in particular, was superb against Calgary.

“He came back from his mono and had a really good couple of games and then he probably hit the wall a little bit,” Sutter said, referring to a bout of mononucleosis that sidelined Toffoli for six games last month. “Then the last three or four games, I think he and the line have carried us.”

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Morning reading: A look at the L.A. Kings from the Great White North


Damien Cox of Canada’s, one of the best in the business, offers a few thoughts about the state of the Kings leading into the March 2 trade deadline. It’s worth a look. Here’s the link:

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Jeff Carter talks about the play of L.A. Kings teammate Tyler Toffoli

Veteran center Jeff Carter had this to say about the play Thursday of Kings linemate Tyler Toffoli, a 22-year-old winger who has had his ups and downs this season, including a bout with mono that sidelined him for six games last month:

“I think he’s been doing a really good job at (striving for consistency). Obviously, there’s going to be ups and downs. I think we’ve all had streaks where the puck hasn’t been going in for us. Tyler is real strong in front of his own net and plays the right way.For a young guy, it’s pretty impressive. He battles on the walls and plays the puck to the centermen, and that makes my job a lot easier. He gets offensive from that (paying attention to the defensive end of the ice first). He gets it.”

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