Tyler Toffoli skated with his Kings teammates Tuesday for the second consecutive day after getting medical clearance after suffering from mono. He said he would like to play in Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, but the final decision would be a group one. Toffoli said he would speak to Kings coach Darryl Sutter and the team’s medical staff and then a decision would be made.
“I feel good,” he said. “I did some battle drills today. I was trying to push myself more than I usual would the day before a game. I was trying to just get my legs under me. It’s been a long couple of weeks. The first week or so I didn’t do a whole lot. I did a bunch of bike rides. I wasn’t really allowed to do anything. The whole process went by smoothly. I think we’re all going to talk and see how I’m feeling and they’re going to tell me. … It’s more my legs and getting my legs under me.”
Coach Darryl Sutter had this to say about the Kings’ move to place struggling forward Mike Richards on waivers Monday morning:
“From a personal standpoint, from a coaching standpoint, Mike’s been a really good player for us, obviously. He’s had a really tough year. It’s natural for people on the outside to want to have all the answers. Mike’s still got lots of game left. He’s been frustrated with it, too. I think he’s got lots of game left. That’s how I feel. …
“This is hockey and some of you guys don’t get it, period. In terms of lots of players go on waivers and lots of players clear waivers and still have great years in front of them. It’s just people in media who want to continue to beat people up because they can’t do it themselves. … I think Mike’s still go lots of hockey left.”
The Kings gave up two power-play goals to the San Jose Sharks in three shorthanded situations during a 4-2 loss Wednesday at the SAP Center, continuing a troubling trend going into the All-Star break. The Kings’ penalty-killing unit is 25th in the 30-team NHL at the break with a lackluster 77.8 percent success rate. For a team that prides itself on hard work and a blue-collar attitude, that’s truly hard to believe. Penalty-killing is often about goaltending, as Kings coach Darryl Sutter will tell you, but it’s also about hustle and desire and also staying out of the penalty box. The Kings average 10.4 penalty minutes per game, ranking as the 12th-most penalized team in the league, and that’s a problem if their PK is not good enough.
“We have to do a better job in certain areas,” Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr told reporters Wednesday. “Tonight, the penalty kill, you can’t afford to give up two power-play goals against and really expect to win too many games, especially on he road. It’s a tough hole to dig yourselves out of when that happens.”
The Kings fell to 1-7 in shootouts with a 3-2 loss Saturday to the Ducks at Staples Center, which helps to explain why they are scrambling to hold onto a playoff spot. Their shooters are a woeful 2 for 28 after Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik failed to score against the Ducks’ Frederik Andersen.
“We just can’t pick the right guys,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “I think we (picked) really well. Jeff, Kopi and Gabby. If you were betting on the game in shootouts, wouldn’t you choose Jeff, Kopi and Gabby?”
The Kings’ record of 20-14-11 left them in fifth place in the Pacific Division.
The headline says it all. What we don’t know at the moment of this typing is what precisely is wrong with backup goaltender Martin Jones, who didn’t participate in the Kings’ morning skate Saturday. Coach Darryl Sutter told reporters Jones was ill, but it’s believed Jones is injured. The Kings avoided making a public announcement by recalling J.F. Berube from Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League and placing forward Tyler Toffoli (mono) on injured reserve. No mention was made of Jones in the team’s press release, which is their choice.
More later. Maybe.
Martin Jones earned a second consecutive start in goal for the Kings after shutting out the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 on Monday. He hadn’t started for a month, since a 6-2 loss Dec. 12 to the Montreal Canadiens, but was razor sharp against the Maple Leafs. His only other appearance was a relief stint after Kings coach Darryl Sutter pulled Jonathan Quick after three goals on nine shots Dec. 3 against the Nashville Predators. Jones gave up four goals in a 7-6 overtime loss to the Predators.
“He hadn’t played in a month, so I don’t know if he bounced back,” Sutter said of Jones. “We need both our goalies to win games. That’s all we’re doing. We want to give Quick a chance to get six or more days between games, and we need our other goalie to win games. It’s not bounce back. It’s either you win or you lose. If we had won the other night, then Quick would have played tonight.” Got it? Good.
The Kings haven’t been outshot in a game since Nov. 29, when the Chicago Blackhawks did it to them 25-20 during a 4-1 victory at Staples Center. They were tied in shots on net 25-25 during a 5-2 loss Dec. 16 to the St. Louis Blues. But otherwise they have outshot everyone since that game against the Blackhawks. Monday, they outshot the Toronto Maple Leafs 20-19 in a 2-0 victory.
“It still doesn’t add up for us because if you’re just going on analytics we’re right at the top,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “We should have more (wins). It doesn’t really add up. We’re going to have to get better at it because with the goals out of our lineup (Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, in particular), and a bit of inexperience at our back end, we still have to find a way to get better.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter was asked Monday morning how the team would fill the void created by the absence of young wingers Tyler Toffoli (mono) and Tanner Pearson (broken left ankle). He had a simple answer: “You don’t.”
Sutter also said: “They’re very important players on our team, not just numbers guys but a very big part of our puck possession game, our penalty-killing game, all that. You don’t replace those players. What you do is you put other guys in, guys who are either bitching about ice time or guys who you have to move out of position a little big or veterans who just have to give you a little bit more.”
Toffoli was diagnosed with mono Friday and Pearson was hurt Saturday.
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.
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.”