Pregame reading: Los Angeles Kings vs. Arizona Coyotes

COYOTES AT KINGS

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM

The Kings (33-22-13) are ninth in the Western Conference, one point behind the Winnipeg Jets in the battle for the second wild-card berth. The Kings, fourth in the Pacific Division, also trail the third-place Calgary Flames by two points. They have 14 games remaining, but only five at home. The Jets have 13 games left, including eight at home. The Flames have 13 remaining, including seven at home. The Kings’ penalty killers have been successful on 39 of their last 41 shorthanded situations, dating to Feb. 12 against the Calgary Flames. But they gave up a key power-play goal in the third period of a 2-1 loss Saturday to the Nashville Predators. Jeff Carter had the Kings’ only goal, his team-leading 24th. The Coyotes (21-40-8) have been eliminated from the playoff race and are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games. Arizona goalie Mike Smith is 11-4-1 with two shutouts, a 2.26 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage in 17 games in his career against the Kings.

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L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s quotes of the night

Darryl Sutter. (Photo/Dustin Snipes in Los Angeles Magazine)

Darryl Sutter. (Photo/Dustin Snipes in Los Angeles Magazine)

Here’s some of what Kings coach Darryl Sutter had to say about a 1-0 loss Thursday to the Ottawa Senators that ended their eight-game winning streak:

“Nah, I thought our defense was really slow moving pucks in the first period and in the second we passed the puck to them. It probably should have been 2-1 for them after the second and then in the third we just couldn’t get the goal.”

Sutter than interrupted a reporter’s question to say, “Jeff Carer’s line was really good, but I think that after that it was pretty much zero.”

Asked if the Kings were looking ahead to Friday’s game against the Ducks, Sutter said, “No. I would be concerned that some of our older players didn’t play very well tonight and won’t tomorrow.”

Won’t play tomorrow?

“Older players didn’t play very well tonight and won’t tomorrow night, that would be my concern,” Sutter said. “Why would they be looking ahead to tomorrow night? You get two points for every game.”

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Meet That 70s Line 2.0, the line that’s been carrying the L.A. Kings

Tomorrow’s notebook lead today …

The good news for the Kings is a line centered by Jeff Carter is carrying the team again, leading it to three consecutive victories. The bad news is a line centered by Carter is carrying the team again, leading it to three consecutive victories.

Carter and wingers Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli ignited a 6-1-1 start to the season for the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings. Now, with Pearson sidelined by a broken leg, Dwight King has joined Carter and Toffoli, and if the Kings are a one-line team again, then so be it.

Meet That 70s Line 2.0.

Toffoli recorded his first NHL hat trick and added an assist in the Kings’ 5-3 victory Thursday over the Calgary Flames. Carter had three assists and King had one goal and one assist in the pivotal third period, when the Kings broke open a close game.

Thursday’s game had the look and feel of a Kings contest from October, when That 70s Line ran wild. It was a short-lived hot streak for the three players with uniform numbers in the 70s, and the Kings came crashing to earth and, ultimately, out of a playoff position.

When coach Darryl Sutter shifted King onto the line with Carter and Toffoli, things began to click offensively again. Maybe it’s the uniform numbers. After all, King wears No. 74 on his jersey, joining No. 77 Carter and No. 73 Toffoli.

Whatever it is, the Kings couldn’t have won Thursday without That 70s Line.

“We’ve been trying to kind of work from our end out, the whole team,” Carter said of his line’s standout play during a three-game winning streak. “I think it’s been coming along, especially near the end of the road trip we saw it paying off for us. And again tonight.”

Toffoli, in particular, was superb against Calgary.

“He came back from his mono and had a really good couple of games and then he probably hit the wall a little bit,” Sutter said, referring to a bout of mononucleosis that sidelined Toffoli for six games last month. “Then the last three or four games, I think he and the line have carried us.”

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Jeff Carter talks about the play of L.A. Kings teammate Tyler Toffoli

Veteran center Jeff Carter had this to say about the play Thursday of Kings linemate Tyler Toffoli, a 22-year-old winger who has had his ups and downs this season, including a bout with mono that sidelined him for six games last month:

“I think he’s been doing a really good job at (striving for consistency). Obviously, there’s going to be ups and downs. I think we’ve all had streaks where the puck hasn’t been going in for us. Tyler is real strong in front of his own net and plays the right way.For a young guy, it’s pretty impressive. He battles on the walls and plays the puck to the centermen, and that makes my job a lot easier. He gets offensive from that (paying attention to the defensive end of the ice first). He gets it.”

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L.A. Kings practice report: Jeff Carter sits out and Barry Melrose to be honored

Welcome home, Kings. No snow here.

Welcome home, Kings. No snow here.

Here are a few odds and ends from Wednesday’s practice, the Kings’ first since returning to the sun and warm temps after their dreary trip …

The Kings will honor former coach Barry Melrose as part of their Legends Night Series before Thursday’s game against Calgary. Melrose coached the Kings from 1992-95, guiding them to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1993. …

Jeff Carter didn’t practice with the Kings in order to attend the funeral of his grandfather. Coach Darryl Sutter said Carter would return to the team in time for tonight’s game against the Flames, “weather pending.” …

Defenseman Alec Martinez continues to be termed day-to-day after suffering a concussion. Wednesday was not his day, however. He did not skate with his teammates, and he’s not expected to play against the Flames. …

 

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Pregame reading: Los Angeles Kings at Tampa Bay Lightning

Typewriter

 

KINGS AT LIGHTNING

Faceoff: 2 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM

The Kings (21-18-12) lost their third in a row to start their five game trip and remained mired in 12th place in the Western Conference after a 3-2 defeat Thursday to the Florida Panthers. They also were five points out of the final wild-card spot. The Kings are 5-12-6 away from Staples Center, tied with the lowly Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers for the fewest road victories in the 30-team NHL. The Kings’ chances of making the playoffs were down to only 12.5 percent, according to the website sportsclubstats.com. Kings forward Jeff Carter has a defensive rating of plus-14 in home games, seventh-best in the league. Carter’s defensive rating of minus-12 on the road is 798th, however. Carter has scored 12 of his 14 goals and recorded 17 of 22 his assists at home. Defenseman Drew Doughty is the Kings’ leading scorer on the road with 14 points, including four goals. Tampa Bay is first in the Eastern Conference with a 33-15-5 record. Steve Stamkos leads the Lightning with 28 goals, tied for third overall in the NHL with two others.

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L.A. Kings best players aren’t their best producers in road games

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.

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Pregame reading: Los Angeles Kings at Boston Bruins

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.

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L.A. Kings forward Jeff Carter talks about teammate and friend Mike Richards

Here’s some of what Kings forward Jeff Carter had to say about teammate and friend Mike Richards clearing waivers and being assigned to Manchester of the AHL on Tuesday: “It’s tough, obviously. We’ve got a pretty close team here. Any time anybody leaves it’s always tough. We understand those things happen.

“He brought a lot to this room and a lot of stuff, unless you’re in this room, you don’t see. It was tough on him, too. It’s an opportunity for others to step up. It’s an opportunity for some of the young guys to become leaders. …

“I saw him last night. … I think he’s all right. Nobody wants to get sent down. It’s a (lousy) part of the game. I think he’s handled it well. He’s been around a long time. He knows how it works. I’m sure he’ll work hard and we’ll see him here again soon.”

 

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