A couple notes from the morning skate.

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.
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Loktionov assigned to Manchester.

Four days after the first multipoint game of his NHL career, Andrei Loktionov is back in the AHL.

The Kings assigned the 20-year-old center to Manchester on Sunday, and Loktionov was in the starting lineup for the Monarchs’ noon (EST) game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

In his second NHL stint this season, beginning Jan. 20, Loktionov had two goals, three assists and a plus-3 rating in 12 games. He had a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating Wednesday in Columbus, and appeared to be on an upswing since head coach Terry Murray switched him from left wing to his natural center position. Yet Loktionov was made a healthy scratch Saturday in the Kings’ 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders.

That makes the timing of Loktionov’s demotion (not to mention the pretext for juggling lines in the middle of an 8-0-3 streak)less than self-explanatory. Murray told reporters prior to the Islanders game that Loktionov “got exposed a little bit in some of those important situations” – an ambiguous statement, but one that probably alludes to something Murray saw from Loktionov’s defensive abilities.

Still, with the trade deadline only eight days away, one must question what the long-term plan is for Loktionov. Is he seen as a part of the core group that will aid the Kings’ playoff push? If not, is a trade in the works? If he comes back, is he a center or a left wing?

We’ll try to get some answers when the Kings return home to practice this week.

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Morris talks Monarchs

In this morning’s New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester Monarchs coach Mark Morris talks about the upcoming season, including which players he thinks will stick with the Kings and what he hopes to see from his team in the upcoming season. The article mentions Brian Boyle and Teddy Purcell as two players Morris believes “proved they belong” in the NHL. Here’s the full story…

Watching baseball, talking hockey with Monarchs coach

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Mark Morris Q&A

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Hope everyone is having a good holiday weekend. It’s hard to beat sleeping in on a Monday morning. But to get back into the swing of things, here’s an interview Don just did with Mark Morris, coach of the AHL Manchester Monarchs. In the interview, Mark gives some perspective on the season and what it’s like to coach at the highest minor-league level. It’s another great interview by Don with an interesting subject…

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Monarchs news

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The Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate, announced today that the contracts of coach Mark Morris and assistant coach Scott Pellerin have been extended for the 2008-09 season. Morris has coached the Monarchs to a 90-52-12-6 record in two seasons. Last year’s team lost in the Eastern Conference Finals and this year’s team lost in the first round of the playoffs. Here’s the full press release…
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Manchester update

The blog server appears to be working today, so I’ll give this whole posting thing a go. Don Fulton tracked down coach Mark Morris, whose Manchester Monarchs are in dire straits, down 3-0 to Providence and facing elimination tonight. Don also has an interview with Jeff Zatkoff ready to go. Here’s what Morris had to say about the Monarchs’ situation:

On being down 3-0 in the series.

“We’ve gotten great goaltending from both Bernier and Quick, and I don’t think we have to hang our heads at all. We had those two goals disallowed (in Game 3), that in our opinion, were both good goals, and we didn’t have a whole lot of things go our way. I really believe that we are really on the verge of winning any one of those games. These are the types of battles that are going to make these guys better hockey players.”

On the absence of Brian Boyle:

“That was a huge blow. Brian is such a physical presence, guy who played half the season as a defenseman and still lead the league in rookie scoring. I can’t say enough for what he has meant to our hockey club. There aren’t too many 6-7, 250-pound people that can replace him. He’s been a huge presence in front of the net on the power play, and a good face-off man. He knows how to distribute the puck and he is a hard guy to hold. My guess is that his recovery time is going to be too lengthy unless we are able to turn this thing around.”

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Bruins 3, Monarchs 2 (OT)

Pascal Pelletier scored 9:01 into overtime as Providence beat Manchester 3-2 in the first game of the best-of-seven first round series in the AHL playoffs. Petr Kanko scored with just over five minutes left in the first period to give the Monarchs a 1-0 lead, and after two Providence goals (one shorthanded), the Monarchs tied the game when Matt Moulson scored a power-play goal 9:30 into the third period. Jonathan Bernier played in goal for the Monarchs and stopped 34 of 37 shots. Tonight’s game was played in Providence. The Bruins also host Game 2 on Friday.

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Manchester-Providence preview

Game 1 of the first-round AHL playoff series between Manchester and Providence starts just after 4 p.m. Pacific time (7 p.m. local time). The Monarchs, who finished fourth in their division, face the Bruins, who finished first. The Monarchs coach is indicating that Brian Boyle might return sometime during the series, but that seems vague. A key to the series could be whether Phil Kessel shows up. Kessel has been a healthy scratch for the Boston Bruins put could end up on the Providence roster at some point.

There’s a webcast of the game, but you have to shell out $6 to watch it. Seems as though there might be free audio on the Monarchs’ site, but I can’t be 100 percent certain of that. Here’s a couple preview stories from the two local papers:

Manchester Union-Leader: Monarchs prepped for playoff test

Providence Journal: P-Bruins are riding wave into playoffs

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Manchester update

The Manchester Monarchs concluded their regular season Saturday and are now preparing for a first-round series against the Providence Bruins, starting Wednesday in Providence. The Monarchs finished with 88 points, good for fourth in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division, while the Bruins finished first with 117 points.

Here’s the series schedule. I found it interesting that the series goes 2-2-2-1. Providence gets four of the first six games at home, but the seventh game would be at Manchester. Interesting setup…

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – Manchester at Providence
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 18 – Manchester at Providence
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 19 – Providence at Manchester
Game 4 – Mon., Apr. 21 – Providence at Manchester
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Manchester at Providence
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Manchester at Providence
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 28 – Providence at Manchester

Here’s today’s story from the Union Leader:

Monarchs Insider

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