The Kings assigned forward Tanner Pearson to their American Hockey League affiliate at Manchester, N.H., on Tuesday and recalled defenseman Jeff Schultz. Pearson played in six games with the Kings and had one goal after playing 15 games for Manchester and recording 11 points (seven goals, four assists). Schultz had two points, including one goal, in 23 games for Manchester.
Injuries to forwards Jeff Carter (foot), Kyle Clifford (concussion) and Jarret Stoll (upper body) left the Kings will no choice but to recall Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey from their American Hockey League affiliate at Manchester (N.H.). The three rookies have made their impact in recent games, but some have been more impactful than others, according to Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
The Kings turned in a lackluster first 40 minutes Thursday, falling behind the New York Islanders by two goals at Uniondale, N.Y., before rallying behind third-period goals from defenseman Slava Voynov and rookie forwards Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli to pull out a 3-2 victory. The Kings have secured three points out of a possible four so far on their four-game trip. Here are three things about the Kings’ victory over the Islanders:
1. Coach Darryl Sutter was forced to ice a lineup that didn’t include forwards Jeff Carter (broken foot), Kyle Clifford (concussion) and Jarret Stoll (upper body), plus defenseman Matt Greene (upper body) and goaltender Jonathan Quick (groin). With the Kings playing as if they were stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway, Sutter turned to Pearson, Toffoli and Linden Vey for some energy in the third period. The coach teamed the three rookies together, hoping their experience as a top line with Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League would aid them. Pearson scored the tying goal and Toffoli supplied the go-ahead score, with only 1 minute, 27 seconds left in the third. So, that worked well. You can expect to see them together again. Often. The Kings’ trip continues with games Friday against the New Jersey Devils and Sunday against the New York Rangers.
2. Ben Scrivens has a chance to show the Kings and their fans that the club didn’t get swindled in the offseason trade that sent backup goalie Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Scrivens and forward Matt Frattin went the other way. Quick is out for up to six weeks because of a groin injury suffered Tuesday in the Kings’ shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres, so Scrivens should have plenty of time to prove his value. Scrivens had 23 saves in the Kings’ come-from-behind victory over the Islanders, keeping them within striking distance while they were outplayed during the first two periods. Martin Jones will serve as his backup for the time being.
3. Slava Voynov continues to impress and amaze. He kick-started the Kings’ comeback with a goal from a sharp angle off a pass from below the goal line by Anze Kopitar. There’s more to the young defenseman’s game than scoring, though. The puck seemed to be following him around the ice in the third period, when the Kings wrestled control of the game from the Islanders. Voynov isn’t the biggest player in the Kings’ defense corps. He’s not their best puckhandler. He’s certainly not their most experienced player. He continues to make smart plays that help the Kings win games, however. It happens at both ends of the ice, too. He’s not a one-trick pony, which is why his value to the Kings will only increase as he logs more and more ice time. He’s trending in the right direction, in other words.
The Kings placed defenseman Matt Greene and forward Kyle Clifford on the injured reserve list and recalled goaltender Martin Jones and forward Tanner Pearson from the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League. Greene and Clifford have unspecified upper-body injuries. It’s believed Greene’s injury is not related to the back surgery that sidelined him for almost all of last season. Clifford suffered a head injury during the Kings’ victory Saturday over Vancouver.
The Kings think quite highly of the 23-year-old Jones, who was 9-2-2 in 13 appearances for Manchester this season. He also has a 2.24 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and one shutout in his fourth season with the Monarchs. Pearson, 21, had 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 15 games in the minor leagues. He made his NHL debut during the Kings’ second-round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks. He was scoreless in the Kings’ Game 3 loss.
Rookie Tyler Toffoli recorded an assist Saturday in his first game since he was recalled from the minor leagues. Fellow forward Linden Vey did not dress for the Kings’ loss to the Nashville Predators. Toffoli played 19 minutes, 23 seconds Saturday, which is a fair amount of ice time. Vey didn’t play because, as Kings coach Darryl Sutter explained Tuesday, the 22-year-old forwards are both here to play regular shifts or sit, watch and learn.
“I’m not going to play one of those guys four or five minutes,” Sutter said. “They’re going to be here, they’re going to play or they’re going to watch and learn. Like we did with Tyler last year. We’re not going to dress those kids and put them on the bench for (all but) four or five minutes. They’re going to play, and they’re going to play in situations where they can use their ability.”
Sutter also sought to explain why it’s unlikely fans will see Toffoli, Vey and Tanner Pearson play on a line together with the Kings. Those three have formed the top line for the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League.
“Why don’t you put them together?” Sutter said, repeating an oft-heard question. “They’re all different. They might play for three different teams before they’re all through. It’s not like they’re tied together.”
So, it turns out Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli will play together again this season. The Kings loaned them to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League on Sunday. Those three formed the Monarchs’ top line last season, before Toffoli was recalled by the Kings late in the lockout-shortened NHL season. They played together at times during training camp with the Kings and in exhibitions. But there was simply no room for them on the Kings’ roster, which had to be trimmed to 23 by Monday.
You never know with Kings coach Darryl Sutter, who might change his mind at the last minute, but the lineup for Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver could look a little something like this:
Goaltenders: Martin Jones, Ben Scrivens, J.F. Berube.
Forwards: Andy Andreoff, Marc-Andre Cliche, Kyle Clifford, Colin Fraser, Dwight King, Brandon Kozun, Jordan Nolan, Tanner Pearson, Nick Shore, Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey, Justin Williams.
Defenseman: Andrew Bodnarchuk, Keaton Ellerby, Alec Martinez, Colin Miller, Willie Mitchell, Jake Muzzin, Jeff Schultz, Slava Voynov.
What to watch as the Kings began training camp Thursday:
Is there any room for a rookie to make his mark? It doesn’t appear coach Darryl Sutter has any job openings available as camp opens, but that doesn’t mean youngsters like Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey and Tanner Pearson can’t make a lasting impression this month. Toffoli, in particular, could secure a spot if Sutter and the organization decide to have the forward shift from the right wing to the left. The Kings didn’t have depth on the left side and then lost Dustin Penner to the Ducks in free agency. Toffoli, who is listed on the roster as a center, played the right side when he was called up from the minors last season. He had two goals and five points in 10 regular-season games, showing a knack for being in the right spot at the right time. Will it happen for him and the others during camp? Stay tuned.
Here’s the second installment of Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s post-season meeting with reporters, two days after the team was eliminated from the Western Conference finals by the Chicago Blackhawks:
Question: It seems this was a tougher coaching job for you this year because you didn’t have the consistency of the lineup, you started out without Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene …
Answer: “I think if we go down the league, every coach will say that through a 48-game schedule. It’s something I’ve done before, so you have some familiarity with it. Whether it helps or not, I don’t know. But at least you’re familiar with it. Was it tougher? Sure, it was tougher, because … Our players were awesome. There was no hangover. There was only positives taken from it. Obviously, the only negative from a short summer last year was the guys didn’t start the year. Greene, Mitchell, (Anze) Kopitar and, quite honestly, Jonathan (Quick) until probably January or February.”
The Kings and the San Jose Sharks were expected to make changes to their lineups for Game 3 of their second-round playoff series at 6 p.m. tonight at HP Pavilion. The Kings led the best-of-7 series 2-0 after winning the first two games at Staples Center.
Tanner Pearson, a rookie who has yet to play in an NHL game, skated on the Kings’ fourth line with Brad Richardson and Colin Fraser during the morning skate. It also appeared defenseman Keaton Ellerby would replace Alec Martinez for Game 3.