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.”
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter had to say about Tyler Toffoli, who had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 shootout victory Thursday over the Ducks: “He had a tough camp last year, so the difference in demeanor would be that this year he’s playing well two games in, and last year he struggled. We get along good. He’s a good boy.”
Goaltender Martin Jones’ memorable debut in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout victory over the Ducks wasn’t surprising to Kings coach Darryl Sutter. After all, it wasn’t as if Jones was new to the rigorous of life for an NHL goalie. Until making his debut Tuesday, he had done everything but play in a league game.
Finally, he got his chance and made the most of it.
“Last two years was important because you get to watch,” Sutter said Friday, referring to the fact that Jones joined the Kings as part of their expanded roster during the Stanley Cup playoffs the last two seasons. “You watch, and young guys understand what game days are like. That’s good for them.”
Sutter revealed the reason he started Jones against the Ducks was he didn’t like some habits that slipped into the game of Ben Scrivens, who inherited the starting position after No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick suffered a groin strain Nov. 12.
“Just little things,” Sutter said. “You can’t do it at this level. You’re going to get scored on. We did a lot of work with Ben at training camp to get him into our program. There’s a reason why we don’t give up a lot of shots. There’s a reason we don’t give up a lot of goals around our net. … A big reason is the goaltender. If he’s getting away from that, he’s not going to play.”
Martin Jones went back to work Thursday morning in El Segundo, which was to say, he stayed on the ice longer than most of his Kings teammates. In other words, he resumed his duties as the Kings’ fill-in backup goaltender a little less than 48 hours after an unforgettable NHL debut.
Injuries to forwards Jeff Carter (foot), Kyle Clifford (concussion) and Jarret Stoll (upper body) left the Kings will no choice but to recall Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey from their American Hockey League affiliate at Manchester (N.H.). The three rookies have made their impact in recent games, but some have been more impactful than others, according to Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
Rookie forwards Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli are in nearly the same predicament with the Kings. Despite posting some eye-catching statistics with Manchester (N.H.) of the AHL the last few seasons, there simply haven’t been any job openings with the Kings, who have a veteran roster that’s been remarkably stable.
Rookie Tyler Toffoli recorded an assist Saturday in his first game since he was recalled from the minor leagues. Fellow forward Linden Vey did not dress for the Kings’ loss to the Nashville Predators. Toffoli played 19 minutes, 23 seconds Saturday, which is a fair amount of ice time. Vey didn’t play because, as Kings coach Darryl Sutter explained Tuesday, the 22-year-old forwards are both here to play regular shifts or sit, watch and learn.
“I’m not going to play one of those guys four or five minutes,” Sutter said. “They’re going to be here, they’re going to play or they’re going to watch and learn. Like we did with Tyler last year. We’re not going to dress those kids and put them on the bench for (all but) four or five minutes. They’re going to play, and they’re going to play in situations where they can use their ability.”
Sutter also sought to explain why it’s unlikely fans will see Toffoli, Vey and Tanner Pearson play on a line together with the Kings. Those three have formed the top line for the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League.
“Why don’t you put them together?” Sutter said, repeating an oft-heard question. “They’re all different. They might play for three different teams before they’re all through. It’s not like they’re tied together.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter made it clear defenseman Drew Doughty is quite a ways from being one of the NHL’s best defenseman. Not that he isn’t making strides, mind you, but Sutter outlined the coaching staff’s approach to putting Doughty on the path to success. Said Sutter: “Tried to cut his minutes back. It doesn’t sound like much, by two or three a game, which should help his energy level. Trying to get him to be on the ice for fewer goals against and trying to get him on the ice for more goals five-on-five. Trying to get him to be a better penalty-killer. He’s done a good job on our power play. But you’ve got to be the whole package (to be considered a Norris Trophy candidate).”
The American Hockey League season is underway, and the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs’ leading scorers in their first three games are a pair of forwards who impressed during the Kings’ training camp last month in El Segundo.
The Kings hit the road Thursday for a four-game trip that starts Friday in Raleigh, N.C., lugging some serious baggage after four games to start the season. Here’s the second of three things to watch during an eight-night trek to play the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators:
When will we see Ben Scrivens get his first start with the Kings? The backup goaltender played 14 minutes, 20 seconds in one relief appearance so far, with Jonathan Quick starting each of the first four regular-season games. The schedule gets a little tight over the next few days, with games coming roughly every other day for the next week or so. Kings coach Darryl Sutter would play Quick in every game if he could, but he’s no dummy. Sutter knows it’s best to pace Quick over the long 82-game regular season. So, keep an eye out for Scrivens, who has something to prove after the Kings acquired him in the deal that sent backup goalie Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer.