Will the Kings be healthy enough to lead the playoff race?
Goalie Jonathan Quick and forward Kyle Clifford underwent wrist surgeries and Jarret Stoll had hip surgery during the offseason, signs of the toll a grueling regular season and an extended playoff run can exact on professional athletes. All three are sound and will begin the regular season on schedule. Injuries are always a concern, particularly for a team that relies on its physical play to win games. The Kings appear to have the depth to withstand various routine bumps and bruises in the season.
Luck plays a great role in a team’s success. Good teams avoid injuries, or at the very least they manage to use their depth to patch together a lineup that’s good enough to keep winning. There’s not a big drop-off. Bad teams get injured and there aren’t enough quality players to fill the void. The Kings appear to have plenty of depth, both on their roster in Los Angeles and at their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H. Any questions about the organization’s depth should have been answered by the likes of Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli during the playoffs last season.
Here’s what Kings forward Jarret Stoll had to say about the raising of the club’s first championship banner before the 2012-13 season and what it will be like when the second up goes up on Oct. 8: “We’re going to enjoy that for five minutes and then it’s a new season and we’ll drop the puck. It was really cool to just all be standing in a corner as a group, as a team that went through it all just to see it going up and see all the flashes in the crowd. The first banner in the history of the organization, in the city. It was was special.” Continue reading
Here is the best of the best writing on the Kings from the opening weekend of training camp, starting with Los Angeles News Groups columnist Mark Whicker’s look at Stanley Cup playoffs hero Alec Martinez: http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20140920/alec-martinezs-journey-with-los-angeles-kings-becomes-legendary
My look at the moves the Kings’ rivals in the West made during the summer: http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20140919/anaheim-ducks-the-west-bulk-up-to-challenge-los-angeles-kings
Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times takes a look at defenseman Drew Doughty and his goal of winning the Norris Trophy here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/kings/la-sp-kings-drew-doughty-20140920-story.html
Dillman also catches up with captain Dustin Brown here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/kings/la-sp-dustin-brown-kings-20140922-story.html
In the Orange County, er, Los Angeles Register, Rich Hammond previews the Kings’ No. 1 goal in Monday’s split-squad exhibitions with the Arizona Coyotes: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/kings-635851-monday-home.html
Here’s Kings center Jarret Stoll on playing Game 7s:
“They’re fun, yeah. There’s always a little bit of nerves, but I think for every game there should be a little bit of excitement. Game 7s are fun. They’re fun for everybody, players, coaches, fans, the media. You guys. It’s what it’s all about. Playing one game, win a series, win a championship, go on to the next round or whatever. When you have a best-of-7 or a best-of-5, that’s one thing, but when it comes down to one single game, that’s pretty exciting. Best-of-1, yeah.”
Jeff Carter, who is on injured reserve because of a foot injury and Jarret Stoll (upper-body injury) didn’t skate with their Kings teammates Tuesday, and there was no telling when they might be back on the ice. Justin Williams joined them on the sidelines when he couldn’t keep up with the pace of practice, according to Kings coach Darryl Sutter. The Kings had a conditioning-based workout Sunday, took a day off Monday and then went back to X’s and O’s on Tuesday.
Said Sutter: “Old guys, right? You learn the pace. There’s a pace they have to play at, a pace they have to practice at.”
Reporter: “Was it punitive?”
Sutter: “What’s punitive?”
Sutter: “I thought you asked if he was puking.”
Pause for laughter.
Sutter: “You don’t kick guys off the ice because they’re not working. You keep them out there to work.”
How do the Kings do it? How do they manage to avoid the jitters in tight games?
The Kings hit the ice for the opening day of training camp Thursday, and Jarret Stoll will be skating with his teammates. There was some question as to whether he would be fit to practice after he suffered seizures and was hospitalized one day back in July. Stoll said Wednesday he was given the OK to participate after a battery of tests revealed no connection between the seizures and a playoff concussion he suffered.
In fact, Stoll said doctors still don’t know why he fell ill on the morning of July 3.
A Kings spokesman would not comment on a report on the Los Angeles Times website that center Jarret Stoll suffered a seizure and was hospitalized. The Times quoted general manager Dean Lombardi as saying he expected Stoll to be released Wednesday afternoon. Lombardi also said there are a number of things that could cause a seizure.
Jarret Stoll isn’t an All-Star center in the eyes of everyone around the NHL, but he adds needed elements to the Kings’ game they certainly could use in the Western Conference finals against either the Chicago Blackhawks or the Detroit Red Wings. Stoll was missed during the Kings’ grinding seven-game victory over the San Jose Sharks, according to forward Mike Richards. Here’s what Richards said Wednesday about the absence of Stoll, who suffered a concussion in Game 1 against the Sharks:
Actually, there’s not much in the way of news going into Game 7 on Tuesday. Injured Kings center Jarret Stoll went for his longest skate yet on Monday, but there’s still no timetable for his return to the lineup. Stoll was sidelined by a concussion after the San Jose Sharks’ Raffi Torres hit him with an illegal check in Game 1. Torres was suspended for the rest of the series, including tonight’s game.