The Kings announced winger Tyler Toffoli tested positive for mono and will be lost to the time for an as-yet-to-be-determined length of time. Toffoli hadn’t missed a game this season and recorded 12 goals, tied for the team lead, plus 15 assists. He also had a team-leading plus/minus defensive rating of plus 16. He had an assist in 14 minutes, 44 seconds of ice time in the Kings’ loss Thursday to the New York Rangers. There was no hint of an illness after the game.
The Kings will be well-represented at the Jan. 25 All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio. Joining coach Darryl Sutter and his staff will be defenseman Drew Doughty, center Anze Kopitar and winger Tanner Pearson.
Doughty made the team for the first time in his seven-year career, a mind-boggling fact given his remarkable play the last few seasons. But there was no game last season because of the Sochi Olympics and it was not played in 2012-13 because of the lockout.
Kopitar was selected despite some subpar statistics in the first half of the season. He was the Kings’ leader with 29 goals and 70 points last season, but had only eight goals and 30 points in the first 41 games of 2014-15.
Pearson was selected as one of six rookies to make the teams. He had 12 goals, tied with Marian Gaborik and Tyler Toffoli for the team lead, plus four assists going into the Kings’ game Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi was named Friday as the L.A. Sports Executive of the Year by the Los Angeles Sports Council. Lombardi will be honored for guiding the Kings to a second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons during a gala March 15 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Stan Kasten of the Dodgers (in 2013) and Arte Moreno of the Angels (in 2012) are among the past winners.
Darryl Sutter. (Photo/Dustin Snipes in Los Angeles Magazine)
As expected, Kings coach Darryl Sutter was named Friday as one of the coaches for the NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 25 in Columbus, Ohio. Peter Laviolette of the league-leading Nashville Predators was selected as the other coach. Sutter said he would only agree if his son, Chris, was allowed to come, too. Sutter added, “He’s running the show.” Chris, who suffers from a form of Down Syndrome, is a fan favorite at Staples Center. He also is unabashed Kings fan.
“I wasn’t going unless he could be a part of it because it’s important,” Sutter said. “He’ll enjoy it. He knows lots of guys, too, so he’ll enjoy that. I know he’ll be really biased, though, towards the Kings.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter called out Jake Muzzin after Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers, saying after the defenseman played a season-low 17 minutes, 26 seconds, including a scant 3:31 in the third period, “He refused to check. You don’t get played for what you did last year or last week or somewhere else. It’s how you’re playing tonight.”
Muzzin didn’t wish to address Sutter’s concerns after Friday’s practice, but he did say, “They had some speed out wide, but I thought we did a good job of keeping them outside. We need to do a better job of taking the body on the rush. We’re giving up too many Grade A scoring chances. Too many shots from the middle of the ice. We’ve got to get early position on them. We can’t let them get there. That starts from winning a puck in the corner and beating them back to the front of the net and getting position on guys coming from the corner to the front of the net.”
Kings forward Mike Richards played only 9 minutes, 7 seconds in Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers, a season low. He was scoreless and has five goals and nine assists this season. His plus/minus defensive rating is minus-8. He and frequently-scratched forward Jordan Nolan skated Friday in yellow jerseys while the rest of the Kings’ forwards were grouped in threes in like-colored sweaters.
It led to speculation Friday that Richards could be scratched for Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, the first time he would miss a game for any reason since the 2011-12 season, after an off-season trade from the Philadelphia Flyers. Richards played all 41 games so far this season, after playing in all 82 last season and all 48 during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
“I still, obviously, think I can play a lot more minutes,” Richards said after Friday’s practice. “But at the same time, you play what you’re put in a position of. I’m not going to cause a scene or doing anything to take the focus away from everything. I’m just going to come to the rink every day and play hockey. It is what it is, to be honest. You come here every day, you work, you get ready for a hockey game just like any other year or any other time, and that’s about all you can do.”
Speed kills. The New York Rangers proved it Thursday during a 4-3 victory over the Kings at Staples Center in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final. The Rangers skated around the flat-footed Kings again and again, especially during a three-goal second period. Here’s more on the subject from Kings coach Darryl Sutter:
“We had trouble keeping up with a fast team. There’s two ways of neutralizing speed: be fast yourself or slow them down. Even on the (Jeff) Carter line, we couldn’t handle it.
“You can’t take penalties. You need to be able to skate with them. You need to have the speed in your lineup to do it. You have to be able to check and some top players tonight were not in the checking mood.
“You can’t give up four goals and expect to win. Ever.”
Here’s the lowdown from the Columbus Dispatch:
“On Monday, the league will announce coaches for the game, although it may be determined before the league’s release.
“Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter and his staff — assistants John Stevens and Davis Payne — will coach one of the teams, a reward for winning the Stanley Cup last spring. The other staff will be determined by the highest points percentage through Saturday’s games.
“As of this morning, that would be Nashville’s Peter Laviolette, with Phil Housley and Kevin McCarthy the assistants. The Predators have 56 points in 39 games, or 1.435 points per game. Anaheim has the most points in the league — 58 thru 41 games — but trails slightly (1.415) in points per game.”
Kings defenseman Alec Martinez scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in double-OT in Game 5. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)
Remember this? The New York Rangers certainly do. They face the Kings on Thursday at Staples Center for the first time since Alec Martinez’s goal in double-overtime sent the Rangers home without the Stanley Cup. The Rangers begin a three-game trip to California on Wednesday against the Ducks in Anaheim. Their minds were focused on the Kings and a return to Staples Center, however.
“I think it will always be in the back of the memory,” New York’s Rick Nash told Rangers beat reporters the other day. “I think the rest of your life, whenever you say L.A., that memory will come up. But in saying that, it’s a new season, so it doesn’t really matter what happened last season.”
Darryl Sutter. (Photo/Dustin Snipes in Los Angeles Magazine)
This long-ish story on relentlessly quirky Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but you might like it. Here’s the link: http://www.lamag.com/longform/ice-age-coach-darryl-sutter/