Jonathan Quick was the first goalie off the ice at the Kings’ morning skate at Toyota Sports Center. No surprise that he will start and Martin Jones will be the backup. That’s been the case in six of the Kings’ last seven games.
Speaking of backup goalies, there will be another mini-reunion at Staples Center tonight. Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi got plenty of ink yesterday (including here), and rightfully so after playing an integral role in the Kings’ Stanley Cup run in 2012.
Pens goaltender Jeff Zatkoff never appeared a game in a Kings uniform, but he has plenty of friends in the home dressing room. Zatkoff, who’s expected to back up Marc-Andre Fleury tonight, was at one time a teammate with Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Tyler Toffoli and Jones at AHL Manchester. The 26-year-old was a third-round draft pick out of Miami of Ohio in 2006 by the Kings. He was buried on the depth chart behind Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier. In hindsight, he might have had to wait until this year to play an NHL game in Los Angeles.
1 p.m. update: Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma told reporters that Zatkoff is starting tonight.
Jeff Carter hasn’t played since suffering a foot injury in the Kings’ overtime victory Oct. 30 over the San Jose Sharks. Reporters in Vancouver posted blog items indicating it was possible Carter could be back in the Kings’ lineup for Monday’s game against the Canucks. He was expected to skate with Mike Richards and Dwight King. The Kings must activate Carter from injured reserve, however, and make a corresponding move to make room for him on their 23-man roster.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick, who is expected to be sidelined by a groin strain until Christmas at the earliest, would be the likely candidate to be put on IR.
With a victory today, the Kings (13-6-1) can win their third game in a row and take seven out of a possible eight points on their four-game trip to play the Buffalo Sabres, the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and the Rangers.
Dwight King scored the only goal the Kings would need in a 2-0 victory Saturday over the Devils, his sixth in 20 games. Justin Williams leads the Kings with seven goals. King had a strong training camp and Kings coach Darryl Sutter singled him out for praise heading into the regular season. Sutter said King had the best training camp of all the Kings, which had reporters rolling their eyes.
Well, Sutter must have seen something because King has lived up to the coach’s expectations and then some, filling a key role while forwards Jeff Carter (foot), Kyle Clifford (concussion) and Jarret Stoll (upper body) were sidelined by injuries. Stoll returned to the lineup Saturday, but Carter and Clifford are expected to be out for several more games. King has been a steady contributor.
The Rangers were 9-9-0 going into Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. They handled the Kings during the home-opening game at Staples Center back in October, but have since proved to be the height of mediocrity.
Tomorrow’s game story tonight …
Anze Kopitar skated into the attacking zone in the opening minute of the Kings’ 7-4 victory Thursday over the Phoenix Coyotes at Staples Center. He and his teammates were on a power play and they buzzed around goaltender Mike Smith’s net in search of an early goal.
The Kings pulled out a 2-1 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night, the first stop on a four-game trip. Dwight King scored a shorthanded goal late in the third period and Jeff Carter had the only goal in the shootout. The Kings won in overtime or a shootout for the third time in five games to start the season. Here are more impressions of another grinding victory for a team that excels in those types of games:
Who will emerge as this season’s surprise?
The Kings’ lineup seems all but set in stone, which makes the notion of a rising star something of an impossibility. The coaching staff would like to see players raise the level of their play. Young defenseman Slava Voynov certainly did that last season, scoring 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) in 48 games. Is Dwight King next on the list? Or will it be someone from the minor leagues like Tyler Toffoli or Linden Vey or Tanner Pearson? King will get a chance when he lines up on the top line alongside center Anze Kopitar and right wing Justin Williams. Kings coach Darryl Sutter said earlier in the week that King had the best training camp of anyone on the roster. Toffoli, Vey and Pearson were unable to take advantage of the many opportunities Sutter gave them to shine during camp and earned a one-way ticket back to the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the AHL. Time will tell if we see them with the Kings later this season. It’s a good bet one or more will be back. Stay tuned.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter stated the obvious Tuesday when he expressed concerned about the team’s lackluster play at left wing last season. Then he dropped a bit of a surprise on a gaggle of reporters when he said he would play left wing Dwight King on the Kings’ top line to start their regular-season opener Thursday at Minnesota.
The Kings’ roster is remarkably unchanged from the one that won the Stanley Cup championship in 2012. Does that ease coach Darryl Sutter’s mind going into Thursday’s season-opening game against the Minnesota Wild at St. Paul, Minn? Of course not.
Delayed postgame reaction due to technical difficulties …
The Kings played one of those grind-it-out games against a team with more speed and skill and still managed to pull out a 2-1 victory over the visiting Ducks on Tuesday. The Kings have won more of their share of these kinds of games because they seem to play more than their share of them. The Kings also showed off a little skill of their own on their two goals, especially on a flawless give-and-go from Anze Kopitar to Dwight King and back to Kopitar for the go-ahead marker early in the third period.
The Kings won’t have team captain Dustin Brown when they face the San Jose Sharks in the regular-season finale Saturday night at Staples Center. Brown will serve the second game of a two-game suspension from the NHL for elbowing Jason Pominville of the Minnesota Wild during the Kings’ loss Tuesday. Brown is eligible to return for Game 1 of the playoffs next week. Until then, the Kings will be shorthanded.