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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Damien Cox of Canada’s sportsnet.ca, 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: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/deadline-decisions-can-kings-afford-to-boost-blueline/
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.”
Defenseman Derek Forbort was supposed to join the Kings in time for Monday’s game against the Blue Jackets, and perhaps make his NHL debut in place of an ill Robyn Regehr. Instead, Forbort spent part of his day sitting on an airplane on the tarmac at Logan Airport in Boston.
Forbort watched the snow fall and fall and fall some more. The plane returned to the gate after 90 minutes and his flight was canceled. Instead of skating with the Kings, Forbort returned reluctantly by taxi to Manchester, N.H., home of their American Hockey League team.
“I was about to drive (to Columbus),” he joked.
Forbort finally joined the Kings on Wednesday, recalled from Manchester. There was no snow in El Segundo as the temperature soared past 80 degrees. Forbort said he wore jeans and a long-sleeved T-Shirt and felt “overdressed” because of the warm weather.
The Kings summoned Forbort because their defense corps is depleted. Alec Martinez has a concussion, Robyn Regehr has a lingering illness and Slava Voynov continues to serve an indefinite NHL suspension stemming from a domestic violence charge. Voynov’s trial is set for March 2.
Here’s some of what Kings forward Jeff Carter had to say about teammate and friend Mike Richards clearing waivers and being assigned to Manchester of the AHL on Tuesday: “It’s tough, obviously. We’ve got a pretty close team here. Any time anybody leaves it’s always tough. We understand those things happen.
“He brought a lot to this room and a lot of stuff, unless you’re in this room, you don’t see. It was tough on him, too. It’s an opportunity for others to step up. It’s an opportunity for some of the young guys to become leaders. …
“I saw him last night. … I think he’s all right. Nobody wants to get sent down. It’s a (lousy) part of the game. I think he’s handled it well. He’s been around a long time. He knows how it works. I’m sure he’ll work hard and we’ll see him here again soon.”
Kings forward Jordan Nolan grew up with the ultimate hockey dad. Ted Nolan served as coach of the Buffalo Sabres, the New York Islanders and the Sabres for a second stint that started last season. But before he reached the NHL, he was the youth coach on one of Jordan’s teams.
The Nolans faced off against each other for the first time as opponents in the NHL on Thursday night at Staples Center, when father Ted and the Sabres played against son Jordan and the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.
“He’s an NHL coach and he’s also my dad, but he knows a lot about the game, so I’m always trying to impress him,” Jordan Nolan said. “I’m always looking for advice and whenever he’s in the building I push a little harder because I want to make him proud and show him what I got.
“I always seem to work harder when he’s in the building, so hopefully the night goes well.”
Jordan Nolan, 25, has filled checker’s role during his tenure with the Kings, and that’s been especially true this season. He went into Thursday’s game without a goal or an assist in five games, averaging only 9 minutes, 37 seconds of ice time.
He was surrounded by reporters at the Kings’ pregame workout, however, with teammates giving him a hard time about the sudden surge of attention. It’s not been often that he’s been asked to answer questions about himself or his play.
Jordan Nolan didn’t seem to mind, however. He understood this was a special occasion.
“We never thought this would happen,” he said of facing his father. “We always hoped to get another chance. But to do it (against the Sabres), it’s pretty special for him, and for our family to be back in that organization and for myself to be here. It’s pretty remarkable.”
Asked about playing for his dad as a youth, Jordan Nolan said, “I think he favored me a little bit. He played me a lot. It was always nice to play for him. He always got the best out of me and he always pushed me hard.”
Jake Muzzin was cleared Wednesday to play in Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres at Staples Center, giving the Kings the full complement of six defensemen. Muzzin was sidelined by an upper-body injury suffered during the final week of training camp and sat out the team’s first six games.
“Excited for (tonight),” Muzzin said. “You’ve got to deal with it the proper way. It could have been a lot worse if we didn’t deal if we rushed it. We’ve got a lot of season left and I’m looking forward to it. … It didn’t affect my skating or anything like that. … It’s not 100 percent, but it’s good to go.”