Jarret Stoll’s return to the Kings’ lineup for Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at Staples Center was a very big deal. He didn’t like sitting out because of a concussion and missing nine consecutive games in the heat of the tightly-contested playoff race.
Stoll detested watching games on television and noticing when and where he could have helped his teammates had he been healthy enough to play. The last two games, lopsided losses to the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks, were especially painful to watch from afar.
“Feel good,” he said. “Excited to be back in the lineup and help this team win any way I can. Obviously, it’s an important time and important games, big games. This is definitely the time you want to be playing as opposed to watching your team. So, yeah, I’m excited to be back in.
“I watched every game and the first three games (on a five-game trip), it was great to watch.”
Stoll referred to victories over the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and New York Islanders to start the five-game trip. He remained behind to skate in El Segundo and continue to recover from a head injury that produced lingering post-concussion syndrome affects.
Stoll even enlisted the help of a young goaltender who plays on a Midget-level team.
“I warmed him up a little bit,” Stoll said, breaking into a laugh when reporters joked that he might have damaged the kid’s confidence beyond repair with a flurry of shots. “No, it was good. I ramped it up every day and I’ve had a couple of good practices here and I’m ready to go.”
KINGS AT DEVILS
Faceoff: 4 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
The Kings on Sunday recalled center Mike Richards from their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., in an attempt to bolster their roster for the final 11 regular-season games. The Kings (34-23-14) practiced Sunday and Richards joined his teammates for the workout. He is expected to play against the Devils (31-30-11), two months after he cleared waivers and was assigned to the minors after recording five goals and 15 points in 47 games with the Kings. He had 14 points in 16 games for Manchester. The Kings desperately need depth at center, with Jarret Stoll sidelined by a concussion and Nick Shore failing to record a goal in 25 games and Andy Andreoff scoring only once in 17 contests. The Kings play their next five games on the road and finish with only three of their final 11 at Staples Center. The Devils are 10-4-2 in their last 16 games. They also are 10-4-1 in their last 15 home games. They lost 3-0 to the New York Islanders on Saturday, however.
The Kings on Sunday recalled center Mike Richards from their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., in an attempt to bolster their roster for the final 11 regular-season games. The Kings (34-23-14) practiced the day before starting a five-game trip in Newark, N.J., and Richards joined his teammates for the workout.
He is expected to play Monday against the Devils (31-30-11), two months after he cleared waivers and was assigned to the minors after recording five goals and 15 points in 47 games with the Kings. He had 14 points in 16 games for Manchester. The Kings desperately need depth at center, with Jarret Stoll sidelined by a concussion and Nick Shore failing to record a goal in 25 games and Andy Andreoff scoring only once in 17 contests. Stoll had only six goals in 67 games before he was hurt March 12 He hasn’t scored a goal since Feb. 14 against the Capitals.
“You’ve got to produce,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of his centers after Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the team’s third defeat in four games. “At the end of the day, the guys (Shore and Andreoff) have played 20-some games and we’re into the stretch part and they have one or no goals. We’re having trouble scoring. The guys have to produce. That’s just being honest.”
The Kings have scored only six goals in their last four games.
Here’s what Kings center Jarret Stoll said after scoring his first goal of the season, the game-winner in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Ducks: “It feels great. It’s been a while. I’m trying hard, but it feels great to get that (first) goal.”
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?