Kings center Jeff Carter named the NHL’s first star of the week

The NHL on Monday named Jeff Carter its first star for last week after he had four goals and two assists in four games, including two goals and an assist in the Kings’ 3-2 victory Sunday over the Ducks. He was blanked in the Kings’ loss to the Colorado Avalanche and then began a three-game scoring streak that has coincided with a three-game winning streak. Here’s a link to Sunday’s story about his play in the game against the Ducks: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/carter-736100-kopitar-kings.html

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward was the second star.

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was the third star.

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Kings center Nick Shore talks about watching and learning from the best last season

Kings center Nick Shore continues his resume-building from last season, when he played 68 games and scored three goals and 10 points. He didn’t exactly light the league on fire offensively, but he did receive a daily tutorial for this season and for those to come.

“You have two world-class centermen to watch every day,” the 24-year-old Shore said of Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. “You get to watch them every day in practice and see how they play. It’s definitely a learning experience and you try to take as much as you can from it.

“’Kopi’ does pretty much everything well. He’s so poised with the puck, and he does it on both ends. He has just about as complete a game as it comes. It’s the same with Jeff. He gets up and down the ice so quick that it creates a lot of chances. Both are huge parts of the team.”

Now it’s time for Shore to put the lessons to good use.

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Kings vs. Kings lineups (spoiler: not many veterans are playing)

The Kings vs. Kings scrimmage Sunday afternoon in Ontario is short on veterans. Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin are with Canada in the World Cup in Toronto. Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik are with Team Europe. Game 1 of the final round between Canada and Europe is Tuesday, so they won’t be back for exhibitions Monday against Arizona or Wednesday against the Ducks.

Goaltender Jonathan Quick (Team USA) also isn’t playing Sunday

Among the top prospects, the Kings’ white team features forwards Adrian Kempe and NIc Dowd. The black team features forwards Andy Andreoff and Michael Latta.

Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Jeff Zatkoff are scratched.

 

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Kings training camp questions (part 2)

2. Who will earn jobs on the Kings’ third and fourth lines?

The Kings face significant questions about their scoring depth, as well. Anze Kopitar won the Selke Trophy last season as the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game after he led the Kings in scoring for the ninth consecutive season. He had 74 points, including a team-leading 49 assists. Tyler Toffoli scored a Kings-leading 31 goals, and Jeff Carter added 24. No one else on the current roster had 20 or more. In fact, no more else had more than the 15 that Tanner Pearson scored. Milan Lucic scored 20 last season, but signed with the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent in the off-season. So, where will the goals come from in 2016-17? Training camp should provide ample opportunity for some of the Kings’ top prospects to earn jobs as third- and fourth-line forwards.

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Pregame reading: Los Angeles Kings at Vancouver Canucks

KINGS AT CANUCKS

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

The Kings (39-25-14) are tied with the Winnipeg Jets with 92 points, but hold the second wild-card spot because they hold the tiebreaker with more regulation and overtime victories 37-33. The Kings have four games remaining, including a three-game trip to play Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. The Jets (40-26-12) also have four games left, including tonight’s contest in St. Paul, Minn., against the Wild. The Kings also are one point behind the Calgary Flames (43-29-7) in the battle for third place in the Pacific Division. The Kings trail the second-place Canucks (45-29-5) by three points. Jeff Carter had two assists in the Kings’ 3-1 victory Saturday over the Colorado Avalanche, giving him 32 this season, the second-most in his career behind the 38 he recorded while with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2008-09. Anze Kopitar has a team-leading 47 assists. “We know them and they know us,” Kopitar said of the Canucks, who are led by Daniel Sedin with 71 points (17 goals, 54 assists).

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L.A. Kings sign Tanner Pearson to two-year contract extension (with reaction from Pearson)

Tanner Pearson smiled broadly as reporters surrounded him after he stayed on the ice for an extended period with several teammates after the Kings’ regulars completed their Thursday morning skate in El Segundo. He had plenty of reasons to be happy despite lacking medical clearance to play.

Pearson signed a two-season contract extension worth $2.8 million.

“It’s exciting news,” he said. “I was happy to get a deal done. To stay here is awesome, too.”

Pearson sat out Thursday night for the 35th consecutive game after suffering a broken leg. There is no timetable for his return to the ice, except as a practice player, and it’s expected that he won’t be cleared to play in a game by the end of the regular season April 11.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” he said of his possible return. “It’s still up in the air. I’m just taking it day-by-day. I’m hoping to return as soon as possible. I still have a bit more healing to do. I don’t want to close it (returning by April 11). There’s always a chance of seeing another X-ray and you’re good to go.”

Pearson had 12 goals and 16 points in 42 games before he was hurt Jan. 10 against the Winnipeg Jets. He played a major role in the Kings’ early-season success, joining with center Jeff Carter and fellow winger Tyler Toffoli to form That 70s Line. Wednesday, he was happy they would be reunited for two more seasons.

“I want to be here as long as possible,” he said of signing his new deal. “I love L.A. I love the team, the fans and everything about it. It’s one of the best places to play in my opinion. So, to be here for at least another two years is special.”

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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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