Here’s more from Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who talked at some length Friday afternoon about giving forward Tyler Toffoli a two-season, $6.5-million contract extension and how it enabled him to also trade for physical forward Milan Lucic, and what’s next on his summer to-do list:
“I have to say our first priority, in terms of signing now, is (signing Anze) Kopitar (to an extension). The other thing I’d say, that shows this team cares about winning, is what Tyler Toffoli did. It shows how everything ties together. With the threat of offer sheets and everything out there, the way he handled the situation was exemplary.
“This is a top young player. He could wait for an offer sheet (from another team). He could demand millions in a long-term deal. We talked to him, and it’s certainly a fair deal but it’s still a good deal for him, but in no way did he hold anybody hostage. If Tyler Toffoli doesn’t step up and do this, we can’t do this (Lucic) deal.
“Then we would have exposed ourselves to an offer sheet. It’s just exemplary for a young player, to realize his time will come and take a good deal, but not try to shoot for the moon. So the team is allowed to go out and make itself better. Once this (trade) got rolling, it was not doable without Tyler signing. If we had done this without Tyler signing, we were exposed to an offer sheet. It’s a great example of guys caring about the right things. They’ll get their money when the time comes.”
KINGS AT OILERS
Faceoff: 6:30 p.m. TV/Radio: Prime, 790-AM
The Kings fell out of the second wild-card spot when they lost in a shootout Monday to the Vancouver Canucks and the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Minnesota Wild. The Kings’ single point moved them into a tie for third place with the Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division, but the Flames hold the tiebreaker with more wins in regulation or overtime 39-37. The Kings also dropped to 2-8 in shootouts and when coupled with a 1-7 mark in overtime it helps to explain why they face another must-win game when they face the long-since eliminated Oilers. The Kings complete the regular season with games Thursday against the Flames in Calgary and Saturday against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center. Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 63 points, including 47 assists. Backup goaltender Martin Jones might be called upon to play tonight after Jonathan Quick started Monday. Jones hasn’t started since a Feb. 27 loss to the Ducks and has appeared in only two games in relief since then. The Kings are 39-25-15. Jordan Eberle leads the Oilers (23-43-13) with 62 points (23 goals, 39 assists).
KINGS AT CANUCKS
Faceoff: 7 p.m. TV/Radio: Prime, 790-AM
The Kings (39-25-14) are tied with the Winnipeg Jets with 92 points, but hold the second wild-card spot because they hold the tiebreaker with more regulation and overtime victories 37-33. The Kings have four games remaining, including a three-game trip to play Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. The Jets (40-26-12) also have four games left, including tonight’s contest in St. Paul, Minn., against the Wild. The Kings also are one point behind the Calgary Flames (43-29-7) in the battle for third place in the Pacific Division. The Kings trail the second-place Canucks (45-29-5) by three points. Jeff Carter had two assists in the Kings’ 3-1 victory Saturday over the Colorado Avalanche, giving him 32 this season, the second-most in his career behind the 38 he recorded while with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2008-09. Anze Kopitar has a team-leading 47 assists. “We know them and they know us,” Kopitar said of the Canucks, who are led by Daniel Sedin with 71 points (17 goals, 54 assists).
Kings center Anze Kopitar assisted on Marian Gaborik’s second-period goal for his 600th point in the NHL on Saturday at Staples Center. It was one of the Kings’ few highlights in a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Kopitar has 216 goals and 384 assists. He tied Butch Goring for sixth place on the franchise’s all-time list for assists and became the seventh player to reach 600 points in a Kings uniform.
Kings forward Tyler Toffoli recorded four goals and six points to lead the team to three victories last week. The NHL took notice and named Toffoli the second star of the week. His week was highlighted by his first three-goal game in the NHL during a 5-3 victory Thursday over the Columbus Blue Jackets. He also had an assist for a career-best tying four-point game. He became the first Kings player under 23 to record a hat trick since Anze Kopitar on Oct. 22, 2009. Toffoli has 18 goals and 36 points going into Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks was the first start and goalie Pekka Rinne of the league-leading Nashville Predators was the third.
Not to pick on Jeff Carter, because he’s only one of many of the Kings’ top producers who are struggling on the road. But the numbers simply don’t add up for a number of the Kings’ best offensive players. Carter has scored 12 of his 14 goals and recorded 17 of his 22 assists at Staples Center, for instance. The home vs. road disparity is widespread, however. It helps to explains the Kings’ 5-12-6 road mark. Here’s a look at the Kings’ top scorers’ road woes:
Anze Kopitar, 11 goals, 28 assists overall; 2 goals, 6 assists on the road.
Carter: 14 goals, 22 assists overall; 2 goals, five assists on the road.
Drew Doughty: 4 goals, 26 assists overall; 4 goals, 10 assists on the road.
Marian Gaborik: 16 goals, 13 assists overall; 6 goals, 4 assists on the road.
Tyler Toffoli: 13 goals, 16 assists overall; 4 goals, 4 assists on the road.
Justin Williams 13 goals, 12 assists overall; 7 goals, 5 assists on the road.
Also: Carter has a plus/minus rating of minus-12 on the road and Kopitar has a minus-14 on the road.
Here’s center Anze Kopitar speaking to reporters about the Kings’ road struggles after they fell to 5-11-6 away from Staples Center with a 4-0 loss Tuesday to the Capitals in Washington: “We just don’t have the intensity and the emotion that we did in the past, and we’re going to have to have in the future. At the end of the day, we’ve got to win games. It doesn’t matter how we do it. If it’s 1-0 or 5-4, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to get the two points.”
KINGS AT CAPITALS
Faceoff: 4 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
The Kings’ 5-10-6 road record is the NHL’s third-worst by victories and fourth-worst by points. Only the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers had fewer road wins than the Kings with four apiece at the start of business Monday, and only the Sabres (nine), Oilers (15) and Carolina Hurricanes (15) had fewer points than the Kings’ 16. The Kings (21-16-12 overall) were ninth in the Western Conference, three points behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card spot. The Flames could have extended the gap to five points with a victory Monday over the Winnipeg Jets. The Kings began a five-game trip with a loss Saturday to the Boston Bruins. Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 38 points, including 27 assists. Marian Gaborik has a team-leading 15 goals. Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin leads the league with 31 goals. The Capitals are 25-15-10.
KINGS AT BRUINS
Faceoff: 4 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
The Kings begin a five-game trip in Boston on Sunday, hit the White House for a celebration of their Stanley Cup championship Monday and then finish with stops to play the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Kings must improve on their 5-9-6 road record if they hope to move back among the top eight teams in the Western Conference that will qualify for the playoffs. The Kings (21-15-12) were one point behind the Calgary Flames (26-20-3) for the final wild-card berth at the start of business Friday. Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 38 points, including 27 assists, and Jeff Carter has 36 points, including 22 assists. Carter had two goals and one assist in the Kings’ victory Wednesday over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Bruins are 26-16-7 after a victory Thursday over the New York Islanders.
Here’s what Kings center and leading scorer Anze Kopitar told reporters after the team went into the All-Star break with a 4-2 loss Wednesday to the San Jose Sharks that left them in ninth place in the Western Conference (and out of a playoff spot) with a 20-15-12 record: “We’re disappointed in where we are in the standings right now. “We have to take the next few days to figure that out. It’s time to play desperate coming out of the break.”