LOS ANGELES -- Two years ago veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell stood in front of his locker before Game 4 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final with a glowing expression. It was difficult for him not to get emotional at the prospect of winning the Cup for the first time.
It might have also been difficult for the rest of the Los Angeles Kings, who lost in their first attempt to close the series against the New Jersey Devils at home. They are more guarded this time around, and it was evident at the morning skate before Game 5 Friday against the New York Rangers at Staples Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
The Kings lead the best-of-7 series 3-1. This is their first chance to close it out at home.
"As a team, I don't think we talk about , but at the same time I think we all know that we failed to close it out two times," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "That's always going to be in the back of our minds. But what we can do is we can learn from that experience. We know what we did wrong and we know why we let them back in the series.
"That's why [Friday] we figure we have to close it out, because the more games we give them the more life they get. Especially here at Staples, our home arena. It's a very important game for us."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --Los Angeles Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr likely will return to the lineup for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday at Staples Center (7 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
"He'll probably play [Saturday]," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of Regehr at the end of his press conference Friday.
The Kings lead the best-of-7 series 1-0 after a 3-2 overtime win Wednesday.
Regehr has been out since May 3 with a knee injury that occurred in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round series against the Anaheim Ducks when right wing Teemu Selanne hit Regehr against the end boards.
LOS ANGELES -- As New York Rangers center Brian Boyle waited to take his turn on the podium for Stanley Cup Final media day Tuesday, former teammate Sean O'Donnell walked over, shook his hand and leaned in for a quick hug.
Boyle played all of 36 games for the Los Angeles Kings five years ago, but he still retains friends from the brief period that put him on the path to the NHL. Boyle, picked 26th in the 2003 NHL Draft by the Kings, will face his former team in the Final starting Wednesday at Staples Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
Boyle came up in the Kings' organization after a four-year career at Boston College. He played first for coach Marc Crawford and then for Terry Murray during the period when Murray was developing the Kings' younger players into what would become, under Darryl Sutter, a Cup-winning team in 2012.
Friday marked 30 days since the Kings became the fourth team to erase a 3-0 series deficit and win a best-of-7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Kings were calm and collected that day before they eliminated the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round. Los Angeles then erased a 3-2 series deficit against the Anaheim Ducks in the second round and won another Game 7.
Such efforts would leave a lot of teams drained, but Friday morning was business as usual as the Kings prepared for another attempt to close out the defending Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter isn't always chatty after games, but give it some time and he'll bluntly voice his assessment. That was the case Thursday, when on an off day he stated what happened the night before in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final.
It's unusual for the dynamic of a Stanley Cup Playoff series to change late, but that move largely kept Chicago's season alive and forced Game 6 on Friday at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Los Angeles leads the best-of-7 series 3-2.
Sutter, who didn't talk about Chicago's changes after Game 5, acknowledged Thursday "the adjustment was we couldn't keep up with Saad." Asked about having the answer to counter the line, Sutter said, "The guys that played against them last night were not on top of their game, and that's the answer."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings needed 20 games to win the Stanley Cup in 2012. Game 6 of the 2014 Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday will be the Kings' 20th game of this postseason (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Leading the best-of-7 series 3-2, the Kings don't want to play any more games than necessary. They played on the road in Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round against the San Jose Sharks and visited the Anaheim Ducks for Game 7 of their Western Conference Second Round series.
"We need to win tomorrow. No matter what, this game has to be ours," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said Thursday. "It's so important for us to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. If we give them this game, they're going to have so much more life and they're going to be a different team, and we need to take that energy away from them."
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr reported some progress Monday from his knee injury but didn't have a timetable for his return.
Regehr came out late to skate on the morning of Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on Monday at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS), the second straight day he has taken the ice. But he isn't doing drills and appears a ways off from being available.
"I can't put a timeline on it because it just depends if things keep going along well, then we can kind of gauge that," Regehr said. "But if, all of a sudden, there's a day or two, if something happens, I take a step backward, then that date will then change. I really don't know. I've been making steps forward this whole time, so far, I'm really hoping to avoid any sort of regression."
Kane has been held scoreless in the first three games of the Western Conference Final, which the Kings lead 2-1 going into Game 4 at Staples Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN). Kane was a combined minus-4 in Games 2 and 3, but Sutter and the Kings don't need to be reminded that he is a sleeping bear they expect to wake.
"Kane's a scary guy," Sutter said. "We talk about it all the time. The more you play him, the more you know it's coming somewhere. We're very familiar with him and we're very respectful of what he brings to the team. You can say he's been kept off [the score sheet]. But we've done a good job against him. He's had some brilliant opportunities, and those guys like that, they only need those one or two, so we have to be even more aware of him."
LOS ANGELES – During their run to the 2013 Western Conference Final, the Los Angeles Kings were able to find refuge at Staples Center. They won their first eight games at home during those Stanley Cup Playoffs, including elimination games against the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks.
This season has been different, however, for a team that has won eight playoff series in the past three seasons. The Kings are 3-3 at Staples Center in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a mediocre home record they will try to improve when the Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks shifts to Los Angeles with Game 3 on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
Sutter revealed the injury on the first off day after Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks; tt was previously undisclosed. Regehr has been out since May 3, when he was hit by Anaheim Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne against the end boards in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round.
Asked if Regehr was cleared to skate, Sutter said, "Robyn's not skating. When Robyn's ready to skate, he'll skate. It's a knee injury, and obviously he'll make that decision. If he could play on one leg, he would. He showed it last year in the playoffs … if there's a way to skate, he'd be playing."
That didn't stop the Kings from conducting a morning skate at their practice facility Saturday, using whatever adrenaline was left over from their second-round series win Friday night before they boarded a plane for Chicago. Game 1 is Sunday at United Center (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TSN, RDS).
"I think you just have to reset quickly," Kings center Jarret Stoll said. "You have no other choice, no other option. We're excited. We got a little extra added energy [Friday] night after that win. The boys were coming in this morning, and the tunes were going and it was a happy room in here. We're looking forward to getting on the plane and heading into Chicago and preparing for a Game 1 win. It's been our whole mindset with this group the whole way through, going into tough buildings and winning and battling it out."
ANAHEIM --Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is known for frequently tweaking his line combinations, and it appears he will try another twist, at least to start Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday at Honda Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
Winnik said he's played with Perreault and Selanne about two or three times all season. It could last a shift or two, but Boudreau pointed out that Maroon, Bonino and Palmieri were a good line for the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League.
"They've had moments up here that have been very good," Boudreau said. "So [I'm] just trying to create a little bit of chemistry. I think, one [Winnik is] a better skater than [Maroon] and might be able to be a little bit better defensively on that line."
LOS ANGELES -- Anaheim Ducks rookie goalie John Gibson isn't known for being overly talkative, and he was certainly concise when asked about the first bad goal of his Stanley Cup Playoffs career.
With Anaheim trailing 1-0 in the second period of Game 6 of this Western Conference Second Round series, Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Lewis skated down left wing and wristed a harmless, low shot that beat Gibson under the pads at 14:04.
The Kings won 2-1 to force Game 7 on Friday at Honda Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
Gibson recovered after what could have been a confidence-blowing goal. Asked about resetting after the goal, Gibson said, "Yeah, it was just one shot. Missed it. It happens."
LOS ANGELES -- Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen saw his hockey cards come to life when he arrived in Anaheim. There across the dressing room were his Finnish idols, right wing Teemu Selanne and center Saku Koivu. Vatanen collected Selanne's card growing up in Finland.
"Of course it was a special moment for me," Vatanen said. "I saw those guys, who I've been watching all my young life, and try to learn from them. It was fun. They're good guys and I like to hang out with them. It's pretty special."
Selanne, an avid car collector, gave Vatanen a Mercedes-Benz to drive around town. On the ice, he and Koivu helped Vatanen assimilate to the Ducks.
"Every day when I got here, I didn't understand what the coaches were saying," Vatanen said. "I got to ask them and speak my own language."
But the time is now for veteran forwards Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, who acknowledged Tuesday what it would mean to eliminate the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Second Round. Anaheim leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 and can close it out in Game 6 on Wednesday at Staples Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
ANAHEIM --Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn't hint at any line adjustments Monday morning, but it appears he will change them up against the Anaheim Ducks for Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round series at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
ANAHEIM --Anaheim Ducks center Mathieu Perreault is expected to return to the lineup for Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round series against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS). The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2.
Perreault missed Game 4 with a lower-body injury, but he said it pained him more to have to watch the game.
"It is so hard," Perreault said. "It gets me so nervous. When you play, it's not quite like that, but when you're watching, I can't sit down. I start walking around because I get so nervous. I'd rather be out there playing than watching, that's for sure."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings met earlier than usual for an off day Sunday morning, but it was not a back-to-the-drawing-board session. The Kings were the better team for most of a 2-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Second Round.
That's probably why coach Darryl Sutter was at his sarcastic best in making a reference to the television show "M*A*S*H" when asked if the Kings are rattled by playing well and losing.
"Yeah, I'm not rattled," Sutter said. "I'm just thankful I'm alive. I'm fortunate to pull through after a devastating loss last night. Radar and Hawkeye had to get me up to come here today."
Smith-Pelly took line rushes with center Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry in pre-game warm-ups at Staples Center. Smith-Pelly played with Getzlaf, a Hart Trophy finalist, and 2011 Hart winner Perry briefly earlier this season and had chemistry with the two. He has two goals with a plus-1 rating in eight Stanley Cup Playoff games.
LOS ANGELES -- It remained unclear who would start in goal for the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday in Game 4 of the Western Conference Second Round series against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
The Kings lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau sounded like he would use Jonas Hiller, who left the ice first at the morning skate, although rookie goalie John Gibson stepped off about two minutes after Hiller. Gibson, 20, would be a bold choice; he's played three NHL games and none in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Palmieri skated with center Nick Bonino and wing Devante Smith-Pelly in practice Wednesday. Palmieri seems a logical choice for Anaheim, which has scored three goals in losing the first two games of the best-of-7 Western Conference Second Round series against the Los Angeles Kings.
"I thought they played real good [in Game 1]," Boudreau said. "I thought it was Emerson's best game of the three that he's played. [Smith-Pelly's] played well since he got here, both physically and offensively, and now killing penalties. I think he's engaged with the team, and he's playing like he was when he was an 18-year-old and made the team."
ANAHEIM – It's no secret that the Anaheim Ducks are a high-scoring, skating team. But it's a misconception that they're a finesse team that can't bang with the Los Angeles Kings in a best-of-7 series.
That was proven at least twice in the regular season, and the Ducks intend on extending that physical play to the Western Conference Second Round series against the Kings. Game 1 is Saturday at Honda Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"We had difficulty with them the year before, in terms of playing their type of game and in terms of beating them," forward Andrew Cogliano said. "But I think this year we've come to the realization that if we don't play their game we just can't beat them. It's that simple. You see teams throughout the year [that are] more offensive, run-and-gun teams, and they just don't have success against them."
ANAHEIM -- Thirty miles separate the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings, which would alleviate any travel issues for the unprecedented Southern California matchup, right?
Not quite. Factor in altered practice routines, traffic and venue availability, and it becomes complicated enough that traveling secretaries get involved for teams that won't have to get on a plane for the Western Conference Second Round series, which begins Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
The Ducks and Kings played each other five times in the regular season, but this is different on multiple fronts. The Kings change their routine for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Instead of having their morning skate at their practice rink in El Segundo, 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, they will bus to Anaheim on Friday night, stay at a hotel, then conduct their skate at Honda Center for Game 1, Kings spokesman Michael Altieri said.
ANAHEIM -- The identity of the Anaheim Ducks starting goaltender for Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Los Angeles Kings remains unknown. But two other pieces of their lineup became clear Friday.
Center Mathieu Perreault said he's ready for Game 1 on Saturday at Honda Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS). Perreault missed Game 6 of the first round with a lower-body injury but has skated the past two days.
ANAHEIM -- They went through drills with more pep than usual. There were a few huddles around the greaseboard. A good number of them spent some extra time on the ice.
Yes, the Anaheim Ducks officially have the Los Angeles Kings on their minds after they learned that the first Ducks-Kings matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs will start Saturday at Honda Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"I think it's going to be physical, so we're just getting them ready," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I think you need something like that before getting into what I think is going to be a emotional series on both sides. Plus, it looked like they were tired of practicing. They just want to get at somebody rather than being friends.
"When you go so many days playing every second day, or at the most, two days off; we haven't had more than two days off in our schedule in the last half of our year. Now you get Sunday to Saturday, it's a long break for them."
ANAHEIM -- When Corey Perry won the Hart Trophy in 2011, it was thought to light a fire under longtime friend and Anaheim Ducks linemate Ryan Getzlaf. It took a slightly longer than expected, but Getzlaf truly took ownership of his captaincy this season.
It's a cliché, but it's true: Game 7s bring hockey players back to their childhoods, when they envisioned scoring the game-winner from the driveway or backyard pond. Those thoughts seemed to run through Doughty's mind Tuesday when he talked about Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round series against the San Jose Sharks to be played Wednesday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; CBC,RDS,PRIME).
"Last night, I couldn't sleep [I was] just so excited for this game," Doughty said. "I'm going to have to get a nap in today and get a better sleep tonight because I'm a little tired this morning. I just can't wait to get it going. It's an unbelievable atmosphere in that arena when we come on the ice and they're going to be booing us like crazy right off the bat. It gets the goose bumps going and gets you excited for the game and gets you excited to hopefully beat that team in their rink. I know everyone is looking forward to it."
The Sharks will use Matt Irwin to replace Vlasic, who left Game 5 with an upper-body injury from a hit by Jarret Stoll late in the first period. Vlasic did not skate and did not even have a locker stall in the Sharks dressing room. San Jose leads Los Angeles 3-2 in the best-of-7 series.
"It's a loss to our hockey club, but it's one we can overcome," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "Good teams that have opportunities to win and move on overcome adversity, and this is one of those situations. We feel that Matt Irwin or Matt Tennyson can go into that position and play. They're different players. They're different levels of experience, but both of them have National Hockey League experience, and are capable of getting it done.
"It's not about the one you lose, it's about the collective group, as a whole, that has to pull together. We can overcome that loss."
LOS ANGELES -- San Jose Sharks goalie Alex Stalock sat at his locker stall and looked at the game notes, specifically the roster for the Los Angeles Kings. He counted off the names of the players he's seen in the American Hockey League.
Stalock knows several of the Kings' younger players from playing against them in the Calder Cup Playoffs, and he would like to use that knowledge to eliminate the Kings when he starts Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round series on Monday night at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, CSN-CA, PRIME).
It will be his first career start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. San Jose leads the best-of-7 series, 3-2.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter walked into his Sunday media session and pretended to be a cameraman in his own scrum. He stood behind one of the cameras and playfully asked questions like a reporter.
"Did you think that was a good goal?" Sutter joked. "What did you think of your third line?"
The small group of giggling reporters almost couldn't get over it. Roughly 12 hours earlier, Sutter conducted a 42-second postgame press conference that featured him in his classic, tight-lipped contrarian stance.
Sutter was cheerier a day after his Los Angeles Kings trailed 3-2 in the Western Conference First Round series against the San Jose Sharks. Their attempt to become the fourth team in NHL history to win after erasing a 3-0 deficit resumes with Game 6 at Staples Center on Monday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, CSN-CA, PRIME).
ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf participated in warm-ups and will play in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round Series against the Dallas Stars on Friday at Honda Center.
Getzlaf took line rushes with Corey Perry and Nick Bonino. Getzlaf missed Game 4 with an undisclosed upper-body injury that is believed to be related to the facial injury that required stitches in Game 1.
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said the rookie will start Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Dallas Stars on Friday at Honda Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS2, PRIME, FS-SW).
Andersen was pulled in the third period of Game 4 in favor of Hiller, who made his series debut and faced one shot. Andersen's first poor game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs opened the possibility Hiller would reclaim the starting job, at least for Game 5.
"That might have been Andersen's first bad game in an awful long time, and I think he'll bounce back and do a real good job tonight," Boudreau said.
"I think he knows I have full confidence, so I don't think that was an issue. I don't think I had to go over it and say, 'Hey Freddie, I've got a lot of faith in you.' I think that's sort of a given from the amount of time he's played this year, and the amount of big games he's played in."
ANAHEIM -- It sure looked like Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf was ready to return to the lineup, but he didn't give anything away about his status for Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Dallas Stars on Friday at Honda Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS2, PRIME, FS-SW).
The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2 after the Stars won the past two games in Dallas.
"We'll see tonight," Getzlaf said. "This is part of our process that we're going through right now. I won't really know until game time tonight.
"I feel good. Everything's where we want it to be and hopefully that continues on throughout the day."
LOS ANGELES --Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown has long known that center Anze Kopitar is a worthy candidate for the Selke Trophy. He'll get a reminder of that Thursday when he's reunited on a line with Kopitar.
Brown was back with Kopitar on the top line, with Marian Gaborik at left wing, at the Kings morning skate. Coach Darryl Sutter normally doesn't address such changes, but he confirmed there will be one wrinkle when the Kings try to avoid a sweep by the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round series at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, CSN-CA, FS-W).
"Hopefully it gives [us] a little size and power," Sutter said. "That line, I think, when we play against [San Jose center Joe] Thornton, we've had trouble with his size and [right wing Brent] Burns and Thornton, quite honest. To answer it the best, we've talked to players and coaches about very much staying [with] seven defensemen, 11 forwards, so we need guys moving around."
LOS ANGELES -- The downside to the Los Angeles Kings playing seven defensemen is it cuts down the ice time for Drew Doughty, and the Norris Trophy candidate let it be known that didn't sit well with him.
Doughty played 23:29 in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round series against the San Jose Sharks, his lowest since March 22, excluding the April 3 game that he left with an injured shoulder. Doughty doesn't see much use in going back to seven defensemen for Game 3 on Tuesday at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET; CBC, RDS, NBCSN, CSN-CA, PRIME).
"I think everyone gets out of rhythm when you dress seven D, for sure," Doughty said. "I only played 23 minutes. That's like the lowest I've played in who knows how long. I want to be playing 28-30 minutes. I didn't like it too much, but it's not my decision. Whatever they decide as a team, I just have to go along with it and accept. If they dress seven again tonight, I'm totally fine with it. I just have to play my game and make a difference out there."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- When Darryl Sutter arrived in Los Angeles three years ago, he constantly told reporters that he doesn't designate between first, second, third and fourth lines. It was an act, but Sutter wanted it known that all players are equal on his team.
Contrast that with Sutter's blunt assessment after his Los Angeles Kings fell into a 2-0 series deficit against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Sharks are playing a quicker game, and their fourth line simply outplayed the Kings' in Game 2.
"I thought that our third and fourth line and our fifth and sixth defensemen could match up better against their third and fourth line," Sutter said Monday. "It hasn't happened yet."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Two days off between games meant two more days of analyzing a loss for the Los Angeles Kings, but at least they did so from home.
The Kings returned after a Game 1 loss to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round and there was something to be said for sleeping in their own beds and seeing their families before returning to San Jose for Game 2 on Sunday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN, FS-W, CSN-CA).
"To be honest, there's not a whole lot going on in downtown San Jose," Anze Kopitar said. "It was nice to come back here and get away from the circus that is going on [in the hockey world]. Just getting away a little bit, you feel comfortable around here. When you can sleep in your own bed for a couple of nights instead of hotel rooms, it's nice. Sometimes seeing your family and getting your mind away from everything helps."
ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks are one game into their Western Conference First Round series and captain Ryan Getzlaf literally has his arms full.
The drama surrounding Getzlaf's return for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Dallas Stars on Friday at Honda Center (10 p.m. PT; NBCSN, TSN, FS-SW, PRIME) took another turn when Getzlaf and his wife, Paige, welcomed a daughter, Willa, early Friday morning. It is the couple's third child and first girl.
Getzlaf was not at the morning skate. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed Getzlaf will play after a long day.
"He's pretty tired today," Boudreau said. "He opted to take the morning off and get some rest, so I said yes."
ANAHEIM –Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf has a deep facial laceration but X-rays were negative and he is expected to play in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round series Friday night at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS (JIP), FS-SW, PRIME), according to the team.
Getzlaf was struck by Tyler Seguin's slap shot in the face with 16 seconds remaining in a 4-3 win against the Dallas Stars in Game 1 on Wednesday night. He immediately left the ice and was seen with an ice pack to his face in the dressing room afterward.
ANAHEIM -- Frederik Andersen stood tall, literally and figuratively, in goal during the regular season. The Anaheim Ducks would like that to continue in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Andersen will start Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS, FS-SW, FS-W). It was a foregone conclusion that Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed at the morning skate.
"I just think, right now, Andersen's played the best," Boudreau said. "He gives us the best chance to win, so he'll be the one starting. It doesn't mean he'll be starting Game 2, but he's starting Game 1."
ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau predictably wouldn't touch the question with a 10-foot hockey stick. He doesn't reveal his starting goalie and he didn't for Game 1 of the Ducks' Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Dallas Stars (10 p.m. ET, TSN, NBCSN).
All signs point to rookie Frederik Andersen, who has been Anaheim's best goalie in the final weeks of the regular season. He won five of his past six starts and finished 20-5 to lead all rookies in wins. Jonas Hiller has struggled and rookie John Gibson has three games of NHL experience.
"One of those three are going to play," Boudreau said Tuesday.
Andersen, who was first off the ice the past two practices, didn't say if he knew he was starting the Western Conference First Round opener against the Stars on Wednesday. The 24-year-old from Denmark is soft-spoken and deferential, but said he would have some juices flowing if Boudreau gives him the nod for his first career postseason start.
"I'll be excited," Andersen said. "This is what you play for all season. You work out all summer. You get to this point and you want to enjoy it too. I feel like we have a good group. We demand a lot from each other and we're going to have a good outcome, I hope."
ANAHEIM – Goalie Frederik Andersen has been the Anaheim Ducks' best option in net during the last weeks of the regular season, and it appears he will try to help them clinch the top seed in the Western Conference on Saturday night.
Andersen was off the ice first at the morning skate and fellow rookie goalie John Gibson stayed out for extra work. Goalie Jonas Hiller reportedly said he wasn't playing Saturday and wasn't on the ice.
"I think it's important just because he got a little bit dinged up in the last game and he hasn't played since then, and he didn't start that game," Boudreau said. "So we want to get a good start in him. He hasn't started a game in a week, and [we want to] get him feeling ready, so all three goalies can feel ready."
ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is known to be coy when it comes to his lineup, and he was on top of his game when asked about his starting goalie for Wednesday.
Rookie John Gibson came off the ice first at the morning skate, usually an indicator he will start in a potential Pacific Division title-clinching game for Anaheim against the San Jose Sharks at Honda Center. Goalie Jonas Hiller stayed on for work.
"I'm not saying he's in," Boudreau said of Gibson. "He may have come off first, but there was a reason for that."
It wasn't much of a surprise given Hiller has had three games off, but there was some thought the Ducks might continue to ride rookie backup Frederik Andersen, who went 3-0-0 in place of Hiller and is 19-5-0.
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau wanted to give Hiller time off and felt he was ready after a high-energy practice Thursday.
"We were thinking that he just needed a mental rest, not a physical rest," Boudreau said. "He'll be back in. He's been very sharp in practice the last two games. We're expecting a big game from him tonight."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Anze Kopitar said he wasn't aware that his Los Angeles Kings could clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win Wednesday against the Phoenix Coyotes. The center was informed by a reporter at the morning skate, and it was welcome news.
"It will be one goal that we've accomplished," Kopitar said. "I think we've been in that third spot in our division forever. It really was, pretty much, the whole season. But it's nice to have fate in your own hands with a win [Wednesday] and put everything away, all the calculations. It's a division game, which is obviously huge. We know them. They know us. So I'm sure they're going to be fired up."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene is an alternate captain and is known as one of the team's toughest players, a stubborn penalty killer and a big body.
But the Kings haven't had any room in the lineup for him lately, and the veteran understands.
"You always want to play," Greene said. "You always want to play and be out there. Right now we're winning games and you can't complain about that."
Greene has been a healthy scratch in 14 of the past 15 games as defenseman Alec Martinez has ably filled a spot on the third defense pairing. It wasn't certain if Greene would play Monday against the Minnesota Wild (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN); there were no extra skaters at the morning skate. Greene's next game will be the 500th of his career.
"I think I've been able to get into a rhythm," Martinez said. "It's like in anything in life, especially as an athlete, you get into a rhythm of playing in games. When you're in and out of the lineup sometimes, it's the little plays that are hard … those are the ones that make the difference."
"I think the main thing is [that] I've got to keep everything really simple," Robidas said. "It's a new team for me. It's the first time in a while, so there's a lot of things going on for me [Tuesday]. But I'm very excited. I've been waiting for that moment for a long time. I'm a little nervous, but at the same time I'm excited, so it's good."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Two straight one-goal losses have prompted the Los Angeles Kings to tweak their lineup.
It appears that defenseman Matt Greene will be inserted Monday against the Phoenix Coyotes (10:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-CA). Greene came off with the regulars at the morning skate while defenseman Jake Muzzin stayed out as an extra with captain Dustin Brown, although Muzzin took rushes with usual partner Drew Doughty and others.
Greene has been scratched in eight straight games and last played Feb. 26 as coach Darryl Sutter opted for the more offensive-minded Alec Martinez. Greene would give Los Angeles another physical element and another player to use on the penalty kill.
Muzzin has struggled with consistency and had at least one costly lapse Saturday when Anaheim Ducks forward Matt Beleskey spun past him to begin a possession that led to a goal in a 2-1 loss.
"I think anytime you play a team that you previously played for -- I never experienced it, but the type of environment coming back [is intense]," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "The best example is probably [Robyn Regehr returning to Calgary] a couple of weeks ago. It's always extra motivation for those guys."
ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks couldn't wait any longer for Peter Holland to grab hold of a center position in their lineup. Now they will get an up-close look how he has progressed.
Holland will play Anaheim on Monday night at Honda Center for the first time since the Ducks traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 16. He was the 15th pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, but Holland couldn't carve out a spot in Anaheim's lineup after numerous training camps to prove he belonged there.
The Ducks were also deep at center, which didn't help, but Holland understands and looks forward to the game.
ANAHEIM --Ryan Getzlaf smiled because he knew the questions were coming about playing against Sidney Crosby, his teammate with Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will make a rare appearance at Honda Center on Friday to face Getzlaf's Anaheim Ducks. Crosby has come here three times previously, but not since 2010.
So what about facing that Crosby kid?
"How did I know that question was coming?" Getzlaf said. "Any time we're playing an opponent from the East we want to send a message that we can compete in both [conferences]. I think that Sid and the Penguins bring a big test in our building and we're excited about it, for sure."
It was quite a surprise that Montreal will give Tokarski his first start as a Canadien, and eighth of his career, Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks. But Peter Budaj started the previous four games and Montreal plays the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday.
"We ask a lot of Peter Budaj," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "We play and we're traveling – a lot of hockey in a short period of time. We've got back-to-back. We figure that was the right time to put the kid there. What I'm expecting [is] that [our] players [are] going to play a hard-nosed team because we play the Ducks tonight. This is the best team in the League, and [we need] to make sure they give a good effort for the young kid in net tonight."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- All players were in attendance at the Los Angeles Kings' morning skate Monday, meaning it didn't appear any were about to move before the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday.
L.A. has righted itself lately and will take a three-game winning streak into Monday night against the Montreal Canadiens. Justin Williams echoed Anze Kopitar's reported sentiment that the Kings don't feel a drastic change should be made before deadline.
The Kings lost eight of 10 before the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but their restart has allayed some of the concerns about a lack of scoring.
"Throughout that downturn we had, we had a lot of discussion within our group, in our room, and I think that just comes with the trust that we have with each other that we're going to get it done," Williams said. "We don't give up on anybody for having a tough little stretch if things aren't going well. We know when push comes to shove … we know we're going to get it done."
ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks are the last NHL team to return to action after the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and that makes coach Bruce Boudreau a little uneasy.
Anaheim gets back into it Friday against the St. Louis Blues in a matchup of the top two teams in the Western Conference. The Blues have played a game, but this will be Anaheim's first since Feb. 8.
"We're a little anxious," said Boudreau, one win shy of becoming the fastest coach to 300 wins in modern-day NHL history. "We're the only team that hasn't played a game yet. I don't know if that's good or bad … seeing a lot of teams playing their first game back. But we're certainly ready to get back into it."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings are down to one game before the hiatus for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and going out on a high note won't be easy.
The Kings on Thursday play the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have won 11 of 14 games and vaulted back into contention for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Los Angeles is 1-8-1 in its past 10 games and finally saw the consequences when the Minnesota Wild leapfrogged them for sixth place in the Western Conference.
"It's points that we need and we haven't been getting enough of them lately," Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell said. "Against a good team at home that's playing well, I think the main thing is we need the points."
Etem was recalled in time to join the Anaheim Ducks for a game against Chicago on Wednesday at Honda Center. It will be his first NHL game since Dec. 9. Etem was re-assigned after that partly because the Ducks wanted to see more consistency and partly because their lineup is difficult to crack.
"I think as a young guy you just need to understand the situation," Etem said. "We got a lot of depth up here. I think that all the guys that are regulars on this roster deserve to be here. For me, being a young guy I just try to keep my mouth shut, bury my head and work hard. Whatever they tell me to do I'm willing to do. I take pride in being a hometown guy and putting on the Ducks sweater every time I get the opportunity. It's a huge opportunity for me [Wednesday]."
ANAHEIM -- One look at the game log for Anaheim Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa says that it hasn't been a memorable season so far. He sprained his ankle during a preseason game, came back for nine games and then tore a tendon in his right hand in a fight Nov. 22.
"If you look back at how the year's going so far, to be honest, it's been terrible," Sbisa said. "It's definitely not the way I pictured the year going. But things like this happen. There's still a lot of games left and hopefully a lot of playoff games left, and I think I can show up and play well and really help the team out."
Sbisa will be back in the Ducks lineup when they host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. Sbisa has been a part of Anaheim's banged-up defense, along with Sheldon Souray, but the team hasn't missed a beat thanks to the emergence of rookie Hampus Lindholm and veteran Mark Fistric.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Maroon brings a wrecking-ball presence, along with a scoring touch, and it will be needed when Anaheim hosts the Kings at Honda Center on Thursday (10 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), the last time they'll meet until their game Saturday at Dodger Stadium in the opener of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.
Getzlaf took a shot off his foot in the second period Saturday night against the Phoenix Coyotes and did not return for the third period. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said at the time that it was precautionary. Anaheim won, 5-3.
Getzlaf is having a Hart Trophy-like season and is the NHL's fourth-leading scorer with 23 goals and 30 assists in 44 games. He was selected to play for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Goals have been particularly difficult to come by lately as Richards has no shots on goal in his past two games. Something the forward credits to simply not being aggressive.
"It's been frustrating," Richards said. "But I'm not a natural goal scorer as Jeff would be. I have to kind of earn what I get. I have to stop looking for the pass-first mentality that I usually come with and try to get pucks to the net more. I don't use it very often, but I have a decent shot, so I think I have to get back to trying to shoot more instead of trying to pick your targets."
ANAHEIM --Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand were invited to Canada's Olympic orientation camp in the summer but the Boston Bruins forwards were not among those who made the final cut when the team was announced Tuesday.
Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli helped consult executive director Steve Yzerman, and Bruins coach Claude Julien is an assistant coach on the team and had input on the selections.
Speaking generally, Julien said, "All I can say is that there were some real tough decisions that had to be made. We all know there are some good players that are left off the roster right now. But at the same time we feel pretty confident with the group that we have that we're going to go out there and compete well."
ANAHEIM -- Outside of a few minor lineup changes, the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins are set for a big matchup Tuesday at Honda Center.
"I think it's pretty obvious when you watch them play that they have some guys that they lean on, a lot like we do, but at the same time it's a pretty well-shared mentality when it comes to playing hard together and supporting each other," Boston coach Claude Julien said of Anaheim.
"No doubt that's one of the reasons I think they are [so good] in the West."
Anaheim is coming off a come-from-behind win against the Vancouver Canucks in which it won with 1.3 seconds remaining in overtime.
ANAHEIM -- The decision became clearer for Saku Koivu in the days and weeks after he came back from a concussion. He missed nearly a month, and even though he rebounded strong, Koivu felt he couldn't be at his best for the 2014 Sochi Olympics and declined what would have been his fifth Olympics.
"It's one of the toughest decisions that I've had to make throughout my career," Koivu said. "Sometimes you might be injured at the time and you're just frustrated that it happens, but this one you have a choice. I thought through it many, many times over the past couple of weeks, and I felt that with the concussion and missing five weeks of playing, I felt the training at that time was fairly limited.
"Being at 39, all of these things together, I felt that, physically, I won't be where I want to be when the tournament comes in … it was a dream for me to be there, but the older you get, you have to stay honest with yourself and I felt for me, it's a better option of not going and getting a proper practice time, training time, a bit of a rest and also where we're at as a team here, hopefully we have a chance to go and do something in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs. Like I said, it wasn't easy at all. I hope I made the right choice."
Luongo's status was not immediately known. He was struck high by the leg of Kings captain Dustin Brown in the third period Saturday when Brown crashed the net to score. Luongo stayed down for several moments after the hit.
It was difficult to tell at the morning skate. Quick and Martin Jones came off the ice at the same time, meaning the only sure thing is that it won't be Ben Scrivens in goal when L.A. tries to end a five-game losing streak.
Coach Darryl Sutter never tips his hand when it comes to the lineup, and he only alluded to the roster change that would be required. The Kings would have to re-assign a player, likely Jones, or put a player on injured reserve in order to make room for Quick.
"We'll either have three [goalies] on our roster tonight or … that's clear," Sutter said. "We need a goalie to win a game for us, and they've taken turns losing games. They need to get in the win column."
Penner skated on the second line with Mathieu Perreault and Teemu Selanne at the morning skate. Penner has one point in his past nine games, which led to Boudreau scratching him Dec. 31.
"We'd love him to be more consistent. And that's our goal, is to get him to be more consistent," Boudreau said. "We've talked a lot, me and Dustin, and seen video, and he knows what he has to do to be on top of his game. I know he wants to. He is really a studious player and he wants to be as good as he can all the time. Sometimes it hasn't been there."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings have been barreling through to Christmas with nine wins in 10 games, but they see room for improvement going into the finale of their homestand Monday against theDallas Stars.
The Kings have been shorthanded 144 times, the third-most in the NHL behind the Ottawa Senators andPhiladelphia Flyers. They paid for it Saturday when they allowed two power-play goals for the first time since Nov. 2.
"You can't continue to keep doing that throughout entire season," defenseman Robyn Regehr said. "We need to be more disciplined that way, and when we do get those penalties we have to kill them."
Regehr also said that the defensemen can be better around the net cutting passes off and preventing the opposition's playmakers from getting time and space.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty came into the NHL at such a young age it's easy to overlook this is his sixth season. Doughty turned 24 this month and even he didn't realize that Thursday will be his 400th game.
"Don’t tell anyone," Doughty said, joking.
Doughty has been remarkably durable since he came into the League at 19. He has missed only 12 regular-season games and played in 50 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
"Time has flown by," Doughty said. "It just seems like yesterday I was 18 and I was in my first year in the League. I've had so much fun. I've still got a long, healthy road ahead of me and I'm looking forward to continue it here in L.A.
"It's crazy. I can't believe how much fun I've had in this League and how much fun I've had with this team. I've developed so many relationships with the guys off the ice. I wouldn't rather be anywhere else."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --Jonathan Quick reported some progress five weeks to the day after a serious groin injury.
Quick took the ice at the end of the Los Angeles Kings' morning skate Tuesday, before L.A. played the Edmonton Oilers, and did some light work with coaches. Nothing too intense, but the former Conn Smythe-winning goalie said it's going as expected.
"It's all good signs," Quick said. "I've still got a lot of work to do. You just come in and try to make the most of it every day until you can get back to playing again.
"Every day's been a little more intense as far as workload, a little more movement. Obviously today was a little more challenging than yesterday. As long as every day I feel better and better, I'll keep trying to challenge it a little bit more."
"Don't turn the puck over," Parise said. "That's the type of line you want to keep in their end as much as you can. For a scoring line like that, you just try and make them defend as much as you can. You can't turn it over in the neutral zone. They don't need a lot of chances and suddenly they have four points at the end of the night. They're that good."
ANAHEIM -- The New York Islanders are stuck in a nine-game winless skid (0-7-2) and have lost a team-record nine straight on the road. So it certainly got their attention when three-time 50-point scorer Pierre-Marc Bouchard was placed on waivers Monday.
"When you lose as many as we have in a row, I think it's the business we're in," Thomas Vanek said. "Obviously there's a lot of good guys here but sometimes you have to make tough decisions. [Bouchard] was a good guy. I only got to know him for a little bit here. It's definitely not his fault that he's gone. I think it's more ours. I think anytime someone leaves it's on the team."
Islanders coach Jack Capuano wouldn't comment on personnel matters. New York reportedly is making room to recall center Ryan Strome, the leading scorer in the American Hockey League. Strome on Monday became the third player in the past 20 years to be named the AHL's player of the week in consecutive weeks.
It was difficult to tell if Jones would be back in goal Saturday night, when the Kings play the New York Islanders. Jones left the ice first at the morning skate, but usual starter Ben Scrivens wasn't far behind. Kings coach Darryl Sutter doesn't reveal his starting goalie, so it was anybody's guess.
Thrown into a rivalry game against an Anaheim Ducks team that hasn't lost in regulation on home ice, Jones made 26 saves and stopped all nine shooters in a 3-2 shootout win Tuesday in his first NHL game.
Scrivens has gone 6-1-3 in place of injured Jonathan Quick (groin). The first win of that stretch came against the Islanders on Nov. 14. Sutter has lately been stingy with the praise of Scrivens and said he's seen cracks in his game.
"I think he's been off and on lately," Sutter said. "To be able to win on a consistent basis and play at a high level is not just the physical, it's the mental part of it, and when you're not used to doing it, it trickles into your game."
Toffoli has made a case to stay with four points and four assists with a plus-5 rating in nine games, but Pearson and Vey's time appear to be winding down with Jeff Carter and Kyle Clifford nearing a return. Carter skated with the team for a second straight day Saturday, before the Kings played the Colorado Avalanche, and Clifford (upper body) told reporters he has been medically cleared.
Jackman said the writing was on the wall when his playing time was reduced in Calgary. He briefly spoke with coach Bruce Boudreau in the morning about his role.
"He told me he wants me to play hard, play physical," Jackman said. "But be smart. Be a good hockey player. Don't be running around. Because the last time we played here earlier with Calgary I got kicked out of the game [for butt-ending]. My emotions got the best of me."
"I was really [upset] at myself. That was a big game for me: me against Stamkos. I wanted to shut him down and not let him get anything, and then he lit me up. I really made sure that after that game I was going to do something about it, and I think I've played at both ends of the ice."
ANAHEIM -- Teemu Selanne usually downplays the numbers that are next to his name, including the 43 next to his age. But he'll play along for special occasions such as Wednesday, when the Anaheim Ducks will have a rare matchup with 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr of the New Jersey Devils.
The two are the oldest active players in the NHL.
"It's awesome," Selanne said. "It's great to see, especially when the old guys doing well. I've played against Jagr since I was 17, so [we've had] lot of good years together. It's always been nice competing against him. It's very special."
"I remember walking away from my first game thinking I could have done more," St. Louis said. "I was still a fan. I was impressed by the players I was playing with and against. Once I stopped being a fan, it helped my game."
Fast forward to Tuesday night, when many will be in awe at St. Louis, 38, who will play his 1,000th game when his Tampa Bay Lightning plays the Los Angeles Kings. It has been a remarkable run for St. Louis, who has missed only seven games in the past 10 years. Fewer than 300 players have reached the milestone.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It's not the way Alec Martinez wanted to get back into the Los Angeles Kings lineup, but he's trying to make the most of his opportunity.
Los Angeles went down to six available defensemen when Matt Greene sustained an undisclosed injury, so the Kings had little choice but to insert Martinez back in the lineup. After he was scratched for the previous seven games, Martinez played Thursday and will be back in Saturday night when L.A. hosts the Vancouver Canucks.
"Obviously it's unfortunate that we've got other guys getting hurt but I think we've got a lot of depth in this room and injuries are going to happen," Martinez said. "You need to be able to rely on those players when it does happen. I'm just trying to play my game and help the team win."
Logic would dictate that coach Bruce Boudreau would go back to Jonas Hiller after a win, but Andersen will get his first home start Friday against the Buffalo Sabres. Andersen was recalled from the American Hockey League when Viktor Fasth was injured, and his adjustment to the NHL has been smooth enough that Boudreau is comfortable going back to him.
"We play Vancouver on Sunday, which I want [Hiller] to play, so it seemed like a good spot for a goalie that's undeterred," Boudreau said. "What I mean by that is that there's no letdown I think in his mind because he's still trying to impress to be here."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --Linden Vey's family lives too far for them to come to Los Angeles for an extended period of time. Vey is from Wakaw, Saskatchewan, with a population of about 1,000.
"Really small," Vey said. "Everybody knows everybody."
They will have to settle for seeing Vey on television for his NHL debut, as is expected when Vey and the Los Angeles Kings play the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Vey took line rushes at center on the fourth line while Colin Fraser stayed out for extra skating.
"You just got to think of it as just another hockey game," Vey said. "Obviously it's a little more than that. I've been playing ever since I was 4 years old and I'm looking forward to this. I think there will be a little bit of nerves the first shift, but once I get into it I'll be fine."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Tyler Toffoli was deep asleep when Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi tried his cell phone Thursday night several times to give him and teammate Linden Vey the big news: They were being recalled from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League because of an injury to Jeff Carter.
"I was taking a nap and I turned over and I had like six missed calls," Toffoli said.
"I was confused. I had a 310 [area code] number [on my phone]. I didn't have his number on my phone. I didn't really know what to expect, and then once he picked us up [in the car], we were just trying to go through our heads and see what we did wrong for Dean have this meeting with us. Fortunately, it was a good meeting."
Havlat is recovered from pelvic surgery in June and it will be his first game since Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, also against the Kings, on May 18. He will step onto the third line with Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels. Havlat isn't sure what to expect but he's anxious to get back in.
"I haven't played a game in six months," he said. "It's been a long time. It feels good to be back on the ice with the guys. We'll see how it goes."
Los Angeles is coming off a rare home loss in which it allowed three power-play goals and enters its game Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes having been shorthanded 43 times, third-most in the NHL. Home-ice dominance and penalty killing are staples of the Kings' game, so it wasn't surprising that Sutter shook things up.
"We've seen it before so it's not really a big deal," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "But I guess it brings a little bit of attention to everybody."
Sutter separated Kopitar and captain Dustin Brown, who was moved to the third line with Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis. Mike Richards appears to be getting a look at left wing with Jeff Carter at center and Matt Frattin on the right side. Carter takes a lot of faceoffs anyway, while the Richards-Frattin swap is yet another admission that L.A. desperately needs left-wing scoring.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --Daniel Carcillo admitted he hadn't had the most productive seasons before his arrival in Los Angeles this summer. He was limited to 23 games last season because of an injured right knee and 28 games in 2011-12 because of season-ending knee surgery.
"The last few years my game hasn't really been up to par and I know that," Carcillo said. "That's from a bunch of different factors, injuries and such. I really focused this summer on getting back down to my normal weight and getting more comfortable with my body after a couple of surgeries. I think it's all coming together again and I feel good again. It's encouraging, but not being in the lineup lights a fire under your butt."
Fasth has a lower-body injury, according to the team. Boudreau indicated it wasn't serious, but the Ducks recalled Frederik Andersen from Norfolk of the American Hockey League to back up Jonas Hiller on Friday. Emergency goalie Rob Laurie, 43, took Fasth's place at the morning skate.
"It's just day-to-day," Boudreau said. "Everything's precautionary in this world."
ANAHEIM – In anticipation of their home opener Thursday night against the New York Rangers, the Anaheim Ducks will have a lineup similar to what they thought they would have when the season started.
Emerson Etem is expected to make his season debut after a lower-body injury kept him out the first three games. Etem, a local product from Long Beach, is eager to get going after posting three goals and 10 points in 38 regular-season games in 2012-13 before taking off in the postseason with three goals and five points in seven games.
"I feel like a kid in a candy store again," Etem said. "It just feels so great to be with the guys each and every day in the locker room and sharing the laughs that I missed over the past couple of weeks. They've been doing a great job as a support system and pushing me to get back. That's a huge reason I'm here."
"It's not ideal, that's for sure," Richards said. "That's about all I can really say. We want him back. We need him, but we don't have him. People got to step up and we've got to find another way to play that even more simple [game]. We can't dwell on it. We hope he's back as quick as possible, obviously.
"It looked like he was just getting his game together there against L.A. [on Monday]. He's pretty dominant when that happens. We want him back ASAP."
LOS ANGELES --Jason Spezza appeared fine in the morning skate Wednesday, a day after he went through a full practice. So it was with slight surprise that the Ottawa Senators captain said he wouldn't play Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings because of his sore groin.
"We're going to err on the side of caution. Just to make sure, I guess," Spezza said. "They're worried that by taking the extra game [Wednesday] it gives me a few extra days and hopefully I'll never have to talk about my groin ever again."
Spezza smiled when asked if he had to be talked into sitting out. Ottawa doesn't play again until Saturday at the San Jose Sharks.
"We had some good discussions this morning, and just decided it's the best move for the team," Spezza said. "It's the best move to make sure this gets healed, goes away. It's gotten better. It's improved. We're trying to make sure it's a non-subject moving forward."
LOS ANGELES --Ryan Callahan didn't need much of a morning skate in anticipation of his season debut. The New York Rangers captain was among the first off the ice at Staples Center and it's not difficult to imagine he's ready for action.
"I think any first game of the year you're amped up and excited to get out there, but that's something you have to control and I think once I get that first shift or that first hit out of the way then I'll settle in," Callahan said.
Callahan had surgery in May to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder and was not able to play any preseason games. He is expected to be on the third line with Taylor Pyatt and Brian Boyle when the Rangers play the Los Angeles Kings.
Most players take part in one of three on-ice sessions, but the defenseman was in back-to-back hour-long skates and did all the drills, without taking contact. It was Beauchemin’s call, and he made coaches a little nervous when he bumped up against Emerson Etem.
"They said 'OK, back off, back off,'" Beauchemin said. "But I just wasn't going to let him beat me wide."
Beauchemin is less than four months removed from May 16 surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, an injury that can take up to six months to heal. He said his goal is to play in the season opene
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – One by one, key veterans of the Los Angeles Kings popped their heads out the door of their practice facility locker room a day before training camp opened.
Captain Dustin Brown, Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll all pronounced themselves ready to go Wednesday after offseason medical issues. The scariest was Stoll's seizure incident at his home in July. Stoll said he underwent evaluations for three weeks and has since felt fine.
"Everything looks normal, 100 percent," Stoll said. "Just for peace of mind, I guess - I feel good. I feel healthy."
"I think my dad maybe texted me and everyone else texted me so it was kind of funny," Toffoli said after the morning skate Thursday. "It's not a big deal. It's hockey. You get hit. It's a pretty funny picture, to be honest."
LOS ANGELES – It was a game saving save and perhaps a series-changing save, and it also meant much more to the Los Angeles Kings.
Late in the third period with a 2-1 lead to protect, Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell found himself with the puck on his stick and a gaping chance to tie the score and send Game 3 of the Western Conference Final into overtime.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick somehow got his right leg down and his blocker up to stop the shot. The sellout crowd might still be digesting it and enjoying it on replay. Quick did not have that benefit.
"On the initial shot, I kind of got bumped a little and spun a little off angle, so I wasn't really able to put the rebound where I wanted to, so it ends up on his stick," Quick said. "You're just trying to cover net and get fortunate and it hits your blocker. Obviously, it was a big save at the time. You got to get lucky sometimes. It was good."
LOS ANGELES -- During last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter veered from routine and held morning skates at Staples Center instead of the team's South Bay practice facility. He wanted his team to get a feel for a "big-game day."
Though the Kings played in many high-intensity games on the way to the Stanley Cup last spring, they never had to play a game facing elimination. In that respect, Sutter will get what he wished for Tuesday night in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinal series against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN).
"This is for a chance for us to defend what we have," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "There's certainly butterflies. There's everything that you can imagine. Every play's magnified and every play will be magnified, and you don't want your last game to end on a loss. You want to have good memories of the way you played in your final game.
"[The Cup run] came as a surprise last year. But this year there's a big target. There's a sense of satisfaction if someone knocks off the defending Stanley Cup champs. We don't want that to happen."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Anze Kopitar never has played a Game 7 in the NHL. He's among a group of young Los Angeles Kings who developed in the organization long after the franchise's prior Game 7, back in 2002.
But Kopitar played many Game 7s in his head when he grew up in Slovenia and dreamed of a stage like Tuesday, when the Kings will play the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"I got blood under my skin just like a Canadian," Kopitar said Monday. "I don't think it's any different over in Europe either. Everybody wants to be in these types of games, and you want to raise the level of play and eventually you want to be the hero in these types of games. It's going to take a great effort [Tuesday], and we're looking forward to it."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – There are few secrets to unearth by the time a series gets to Game 6. All the storylines have played out and it’s one or two plays that make the difference.
But the Los Angeles Kings have not been able to make that play go their way at HP Pavilion for quite some time. They last won there against the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinal series, which they lost. Including the Stanley Cup Playoffs, L.A. is 0-4-3 in its past seven games in San Jose.
Captain Dustin Brown and teammates intend to change that and close out the semifinals against the Sharks in Game 6 on Sunday night.
“We’re preparing to go up there and win,” Brown said. “We don’t want to go up there and steal a game. We want to go up there and win a game. Your game plan doesn’t change, it’s just a mentality to go into a tough building and get the job done. There’s a difference between knowing you’re going to win and hoping you’re going to win and we got to go up there knowing we’re to win.”
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- From opening day to the end of April, the Los Angeles Kings' dressing room was quieter. They are not a chatty bunch to begin with, and when defenseman Matt Greene was gone, his deep tone was noticeably absent.
"He's a big voice in the locker room, and when he was missing this year, you could really feel it in the atmosphere in the dressing room," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "It's not something that is necessarily needed to play well, but it lightens the atmosphere and it keeps things loose, which is a big part of a season and the playoffs. It can't be serious all the time. We certainly missed him in that way, and certainly what he brings to us on the ice. We've missed his experience and leadership."
LOS ANGELES -- The faces will be the same although some will be rearranged, so to speak, for Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
The Kings stuck with their new look at the morning skate, with captain Dustin Brown dropped to the third line and Kyle Clifford on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Wednesday that Clifford might not stay with the top line, but for now it appears he will -- at least at puck drop.
How will Clifford mesh with Kopitar and Williams?
"Ask me at the end of 10:15 [Pacific time]," Sutter said. "Or later."
Sutter said it wasn't really about Clifford so much as the need to get better play from all his forwards. The Brown-Kopitar-Williams line has two points in the series, which prompted a change.
San Jose coach Todd McLellan stuck with his same lines and said forward Martin Havlat is out for Game 5. "And we'll just go day-by-day with him," he said.
McLellan said he didn't know if it was an advantage to see an opponent make changes.
"It's probably best to answer that later on in the series," McLellan said. "We looked at our lineup after two games and wondered if we needed to move some people around. Sometimes injuries dictate that. You guys don't know what's going in our room as far as injuries and bumps and bruises. We don't know what's going on in theirs. Sometimes minutes are cut back … because guys are hurt. We really don't know what's going through either of the locker rooms, and I'm only worried about mine right now."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Tanner Pearson never thought he would play with the big club when the Los Angeles Kings called him up from Manchester of the American Hockey League.
Pearson thought he would simply play with the Black Aces and act as a sort of practice squad for the regulars. But he was told the day of Game 3 against the San Jose Sharks that he would make his NHL debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It all came to reality when I first stepped on the ice to start the first with all the fans going crazy. It was pretty loud in that building but it was fun to be a part of it,” Pearson said Sunday.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A day passed for the Los Angeles Kings to let their emotions settle down, only to have reality set in.
Two late penalties drew all the attention -- and complaints from Kings players -- after a 2-1 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. That obscured that Los Angeles was uncharacteristically undisciplined, again allowed a lot of shots, yielded much offensive-zone time, and continued to see little production from its top line.
L.A. gave San Jose five power plays in Game 3, its most times shorthanded since Game 1 of the quarterfinals against the St. Louis Blues. Prior to that, the Kings had not given the opposition five power plays since Feb. 17.
"I'm not happy taking that many penalties," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Sunday. "It doesn't matter if we agreed with the calls or not. It doesn't have any impact on anything."
Kopitar said he needed about 20 stitches to close a cut near his mouth after he was hit by the puck on a shot by teammate Dustin Brown in the third period of Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinal series Thursday night.
"There goes the modeling career," coach Darryl Sutter joked. "Best looking Slovenian athlete."
Informed of Sutter's comment, Kopitar said, "I think that ship has sailed long time ago."
Kopitar returned to the "Rocky" theme song at Staples Center, and the Kings delivered one of the franchise's greatest comeback wins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they erased a 3-2 deficit in the final two minutes for a 4-3 win against the San Jose Sharks.
Modeling jokes aside, the Kings must put on a serious face as the best-of-7 series moves to HP Pavilion for Games 3 and 4. L.A. leads, 2-0, but it is somewhat misleading given it was largely outplayed in both games.
"We discussed a lot of different options, and I don't know if this is written in stone by an means," McLellan said after the morning skate. "We've got to start somewhere and see where it goes. The majority of their scoring from the Kings have come from their top two lines -- eight of their 14 [goals]. The odds are that they're going to continue to have an impact in games going forward.
"We like [Pavelski] there, we think he's a responsible two-way guy, and he has an ability to help out in the faceoff circle against a [Anze] Kopitar or a [Mike] Richards for the most part, so we think that's important."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Lost in the wonder of the Los Angeles Kings’ stomp through the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs was how healthy they stayed. Los Angeles basically used the same lineup, with the exception of injured Kyle Clifford.
This season is entirely different, and the latest adjustment will be the absence of Jarret Stoll after he was knocked out of Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal series Tuesday night.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The sexy Southern California matchup dissipated into the warm air here, but the Los Angeles Kings still will have their hands full with an in-state divisional rival.
The Kings gathered at their practice facility with an opponent and a date: Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Jose Sharks is Tuesday at Staples Center.
The alternative would have been playing an epic inaugural Stanley Cup Playoff series against the rival Anaheim Ducks.
"I would have liked to have played the Ducks," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "I think we match up well with them, and it would have been good for California to have that rivalry because everyone kind of makes that rivalry so big around California. But to us, we haven't really had to battle with them like a playoff series so I think a playoff series would have made that rivalry a lot deeper."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- There wasn't much for the Los Angeles Kings to do Sunday except rest and wait for their next opponent in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
About eight forwards and six defensemen participated in an optional skate. Kyle Clifford was not among them, and coach Darryl Sutter gave a defiant "no" when asked about an update. Clifford skated on his own before the morning skate of Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the St. Louis Blues, but did not play.
Sutter was otherwise glad to get a break in between series.
"It's really good," Sutter said. "Between regular season and first round, we were flying today and practicing tomorrow so it's critical for some guys to recover, not only in terms of injury but energy."
ANAHEIM -- Viktor Fasth walked over to the stereo and turned up The Who’s “Eminence Front.” A few minutes later, Bob Marley’s voice permeated the room. As Sheldon Souray spoke to reporters, Sami Vatanen playfully joined the scrum and used a water bottle as a microphone.
Yes, the Anaheim Ducks locker room was surprisingly loose Saturday after the team got in at 2 a.m. following an overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Game 7 is Sunday at Honda Center (NBCSN, RDS, TSN, FS-D, FS-W) , and the Ducks appear to have shaken off an unhappy down plane ride home.
“Guys will rise to the occasion,” defenseman Luca Sbisa said. “We’ve been a team that usually plays the best in situations like that. We have a lot of confidence. We don’t need motivation, any energy boost. You’re so amped up, you have to control your energy and your emotions because you’re so fired up to play … but I think everyone is looking forward to it, and it’s going to be a great feeling when [you] come back into this dressing room as the winning team.”
"He gets here before you guys," Sutter said. "Then he was doing a Geico commercial, and then he was doing the weather with Channel 4 this morning up in the helicopter."
Sutter expanded to say Clifford "had … what does [St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock] call it? A maintenance day, the day of the game."
If Clifford can't play, that would seem to be the only significant change for the Kings in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Blues at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings went through last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs like a buzz saw. So far this spring, that saw has been dulled, bent and chipped in what is arguably the most closely contested series of this postseason.
"I don't remember all the statistics from series in the past, but from what I've read there [were] 377-some hits going into last game," Dustin Penner said of L.A.'s Western Conference Quarterfinal against the St. Louis Blues.
"I'd have to think this is the most physical one I've been a part of so far."
ANAHEIM -- Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock opened his press conference Wednesday with a rundown of what had transpired since he last spoke to the media.
"I went to Huntington Beach for a couple of hours and had a meal at Capital Grille," he said. "Fifteen teams left in the tournament. That should shorten this right up."
There wasn't much to talk about before Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Anaheim Ducks, which will be played Wednesday at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
Babcock said he will make no changes to his lineup, and Anaheim will appear to do the same, because it did not do line rushes during its morning skate.
Detroit evened the best-of-7 series at 2-2 partly because its young players have grown accustomed to the Stanley Cup Playoff intensity.
Babcock summed it up when he said, "Our kids got to be good or we can't win. We don't have enough."
A look at the numbers tells it all: Including the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Ducks are 20-5-2 when Perry records a point and 9-9-3 when he doesn't. So his one point through four games of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Detroit Red Wings is naturally magnified.
Game 5 is Wednesday at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
Perry was a 50-goal scorer and Hart Trophy winner in 2010-11 who signed an eight-year, $69 million contract extension in March.
"If you know Corey Perry, you know how competitive he is," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said Tuesday. "I'm sure he is pressing a little too much. He's just got to do what comes natural to him. When you're getting chances, you know things are going OK.
"It's when you're not getting any chances and you're not getting any touches at the puck, then all of a sudden you start to worry about your game. But he had three really good chances [Monday] night, and I would venture to guess that if he had those three chances tomorrow night [in Game 5], he's going to put two of them in."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – It was difficult not to notice Alec Martinez when he stepped on the ice for an optional skate Sunday.
The sombrero gave him away, for starters. He also wore a green jersey and a red sock and white sock in a presumed homage to the Mexican flag on Cinco de Mayo. A few cheers went up from the sparse crowd.
"We obviously had a little fun with that in the locker room," said Martinez, who actually has Spanish heritage on his grandfather's side. "If you can't laugh at yourself, I don't think you can't laugh at all. We had fun with it but it was back to work once we were on the ice."
Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he bought the sombrero at liquor store in the morning, and Martinez gave the line of the day when told about his coach's, um, shopping habits.
The presence of Martinez is significant because he has not played since April 2. He didn't know or wouldn't say if he would play in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the St. Louis Blues (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"Ask Darryl," Martinez said in reference to coach Darryl Sutter. "Every guy wants to play. I'll just wait, and if my name's called I'll be ready."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The sun came up for the Los Angeles Kings when they returned home Friday. In fact, it was 93 degrees in L.A. and the Kings tried to put a sunny outlook on their 2-0 deficit against the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The Kings last faced a 2-0 series hole in the 2002 conference quarterfinals. They last time they erased such a deficit and won was in the 2001 conference quarterfinals against the Detroit Red Wings.
This is drastically different from the Stanley Cup run last season in which Los Angeles took a 3-0 lead in all four postseason series.
“We’re not going to do what we did last year,” forward Dustin Penner said. “We've got to find different ways to win games now.
“We expect to win them all. We know based on reality, that’s probably not going to happen. But you just take each task on as it comes at you. Now we’re down, 2-0, we've got to worry about having a good start. They’re going to come in here -- opportunity lies in front of them -- they want to get that third one just like we did last year. We've got to combat what they’re going to bring to the table.”
ANAHEIM -- Deep in the recesses of the Detroit Red Wings locker room, a player could be heard playfully singing out Todd Bertuzzi's name, presumably summoning Bertuzzi to the throng of media waiting.
Bertuzzi is ready for his close-up.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock confirmed at the morning skate Thursday that Bertuzzi, 38, will return to the lineup for Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
ANAHEIM -- The Detroit Red Wings had an off-ice workout Wednesday and coach Mike Babcock said he hadn’t decided if he would make lineup changes for Game 2.
Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson are available but Babcock threw cold water on the idea of bringing the forwards in even though they have Stanley Cup Playoff experience.
"I think it’s great to have veterans that are ready to go," Babock said. "I've just been around the game a long time and understand that when a guy misses training camp … why is he not very good? Because he missed training camp.
"I haven’t spent a whole lot of time feeding my family on hope. It’s know. So sleep on it more tonight and decide."
ANAHEIM -- Nick Bonino admits he's a little over-the-top with his goal celebrations.
"I always get a hard time for this, but every goal I score I celebrate like I’ve never scored before," said Bonino, who scored the first Stanley Cup Playoff goal of his career in the Anaheim Ducks' 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. "Honestly, I get so happy. I guess the playoffs amps it up a little bit. I didn’t really know where to go. I just sort of skated as fast as I could somewhere and I ended up into the glass. I like that corner, apparently."
ANAHEIM – Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is not typically a matchup coach. He generally prefers to mix and match as needed. But that philosophy changed, at least for Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. Why?
"Once we found out who we were playing [it changed]," Boudreau said.
Noted Ducks killer Datsyuk had one shot on goal in 20:46 minutes of ice time.
"I feel like when you’re in battles with them, they’re so strong you have to do your best in winning them," Cogliano said. "I feel like every battle I won against those guys last night, it took everything out of me just because they’re so strong. Your best defense is the offense and forecheck. I feel like we did a good job forechecking them."
That's what makes it difficult to understand why coach Bruce Boudreau would split up the pair for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But that appears to be the case; Souray continued Tuesday to work with Ben Lovejoy while Beauchemin was with Cam Fowler.
Boudreau switched the pair a couple of practices ago but wouldn't say why, although there is some thought that one of them needs to be with a fast skater like Fowler to counter the Detroit Red Wings' skilled forwards.
"I'm not going to speculate or say why I'm doing things at this stage, but whatever we do there's a reason," Boudreau said Monday. "We're just not throwing names in a hat and pulling them out. We have a thought process that goes into everything. Trial and error, and you hope it works."
Hiller will get the start for Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Detroit Red Wings, although Boudreau coyly said, "I haven't stated that I'm going with Hiller yet" at the Tuesday morning skate.
Greene has not skated with the team the past two days because of an undisclosed injury from Wednesday that is not related to his previous back surgery, coach Darryl Sutter said. Keaton Ellerby took Greene's place in the morning skate Saturday and will fill in when the Kings play a pivotal game against the San Jose Sharks.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- For a team that barely squeaked into the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, the Los Angeles Kings weren't really breathing a big sigh of relief Sunday.
Los Angeles clinched a berth when the Detroit Red Wings lost Saturday night, but they have bigger fish to fry as it sits fourth in the Western Conference standings going into a game against the Dallas Stars on Sunday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).
"It's always nice when that 'X' appears in front of your team's name," Anze Kopitar said. "But we have some other business to take care of. We're shooting for home ice. That's been the goal for the last two weeks, and we're going to stick to it."
The defending Cup champions know last season was a historical anomaly. They were the first eighth seed to win the Cup, having started all four postseason series in another city.
Greene was activated from injured reserve Thursday morning and is available to play his first game since he injured his back in the season opener Jan. 19. Coach Darryl Sutter was not available to reporters, but Greene said he was good to go against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"You got to play," Greene said. "You got to play some time, you know? Playoffs are every other day. Obviously you've got to play some games to try and get ready and see if I can handle it."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – There were no apparent lineup changes for the Los Angeles Kings at their morning skate as they go into their series finale against the Anaheim Ducks. Coach Darryl Sutter has stuck with the defensive combination of Drew Doughty and Robyn Regehr, and Doughty likes having that stay-at-home type to balance out his freelancing.
"That gives me the opportunity to kind of jump up every time I can," Doughty said. "He’s always back there. He’s always solid. For the most part, I know what he’s going to do with puck. It’s going to be a simple play. He’s not going to make that saucer pass over a stick or anything like that. He’s either going to go straight up to the winger or over to me.
"I want the puck in my hands as much as I can have, and if he’s going to keep giving it to me, I love that. I think so far we’ve worked really well together. As we get used to each other, we’re going to get better and better."
Doughty said his slow start to the season was tough because he wasn’t putting up points. He took on an increased role with heavy minutes but he also adjusted with partners Jake Muzzin and Keaton Ellerby.
Presumably the two were discussing Getzlaf's status for the game against the Colorado Avalanche, but they could have been talking about the Rihanna concert Getzlaf attended the previous night.
"I loved the concert," Getzlaf said. "It was really good."
Regarding whether he will return from a three-game absence from a leg injury, Getzlaf looked more active at the skate but did not take part in the regular line rushes. He did sound optimistic, though, one week after he got tangled up with Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars.
"It felt good," Getzlaf said. "Things are moving along the way we wanted to, and there's a good chance I'll be in the lineup tonight. We’ll see."
"It felt pretty good," Getzlaf said. "It responded the way we've kind of wanted it moving forward. We're kind of just waiting to make a decision on that [playing]. We've got a lot of time from now until then, so we'll see how it reacts after the skate this morning."
Getzlaf was injured when he got tangled with Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars in an awkward play during a game April 3. Anaheim won that game, lost to Dallas on Friday and won Sunday against the rival Los Angeles Kings.
Getzlaf got tangled up with Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars on Wednesday. He returned and scored a goal in the third period before Boudreau rested him the rest of the night. Getzlaf did not skate Friday morning and is still sore heading into Friday's game against Dallas.
"If he doesn't feel comfortable today, then he'll probably play Sunday," Boudreau said.
ANAHEIM -- After Radek Dvorak couldn't continue his 17-year career in the National Hockey League, he went to Switzerland. But he said that "deep in my mind and my soul I was hoping if I come back, maybe I can get another shot, and it happened."
Dvorak, who turned 36 this month, not only signed a one-year, $675,000 pro-rated contract with the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday but he cleared waivers Monday to join a Stanley Cup-contending team. The veteran wing is sixth on the active games played list at 1,191, but he has not played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2005-06 season.
"I'm so glad it was Anaheim," Dvorak said. "It's nice to be back in the NHL. It was tough for me to leave after 17 years in the League, but that's how it is. That's life. But like I said, it's nice to be back with a team like Anaheim -- one of the best teams in the League. I'm very glad and I'm very happy."
"It was tough," Perry said. "The best team in the League -- obviously you want to be out there helping your team win."
Perry returns Friday against the Detroit Red Wings after a four-game suspension resulting from his hit on Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild. The fourth game happened to be the biggest regular season game in recent franchise history. But the Ducks pulled out a 4-2 win to go 3-0-1 without the former Hart Trophy winner.
It also will be Perry's first game since he signed an eight-year, $69 million contract extension. Longtime linemate Ryan Getzlaf said, "Anytime he's been out for any length of time he's come back and made a statement. We're looking forward to tonight" against the Red Wings.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – With a dominant home stand and a three-game winning streak, Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter would seem to have little reason to change his lineup.
Signs at the morning skate Thursday pointed to a minor tweak though as it appears that rookie Tyler Toffoli will be scratched in favor of Jordan Nolan. The Kings did not do line rushes but Nolan came off the ice with the regulars and Toffoli stayed out with the extras.
Sutter recently had a pointed critique of Nolan, while the puck has found Toffoli often in his first three National Hockey League games. But Sutter could want Nolan's size as the Kings try to avenge their last home loss, to the Dallas Stars on March 7.
Sutter typically guards his lineup information as if it's a national security threat. He's liked the recent play of Dustin Penner and could move Penner back up in Toffoli's spot on the second line, although Sutter was begrudging when asked about Penner's compete level.
"I think it depends on who we're playing and who we play guys against," Sutter said. "That's the advantage of playing at home. You can try and match guys up, and if they're prepared for that challenge, then we like it."
ANAHEIM --San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan left open the possibility of lineup changes after what he called "easily" the team's most disappointing loss of the season Saturday.
But San Jose had an optional skate Monday and the most McLellan revealed was that Ryane Clowe would not play against the Anaheim Ducks because of a reported shoulder injury, while indicating there were no call-ups. Antti Niemi will start in goal.
"We'll make some decisions on other players after that," McLellan said.
Clowe was injured in the first period of a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, after which McLellan questioned his team's motivation and effort. He was forced to mix and match lines because of Clowe's absence, but added it probably wouldn't have made a difference.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- There will be a few more televisions in Scarborough, Ontario tuned into the Los Angeles Kings-San Jose Sharks game Saturday night.
That's the hometown of Tyler Toffoli, who is expected to make his NHL debut with the Kings. Toffoli, 20, will play right wing on the second line with Jeff Carter moving to center and Mike Richards on the other wing.
"I'm really excited," Toffoli said. "Obviously, it's my first game. I'm playing with two great players. I'm really excited and I just want to do the best I can and play my game.
"It's obviously a pretty big step coming from [Manchester of the American Hockey League]. It's faster, so a couple of days skating with them has really helped and I feel pretty good right now."
Coach Darryl Sutter, asked what his message is to a young player making his debut, said, "Try not to sit on the bench."
Toffoli got the call Sunday to join the defending Stanley Cup champions. His next National Hockey League game will be the first for Toffoli, a baby-faced center who turns 21 next month.
"I was pretty tired, so I tried to sleep, but I so was excited I couldn't really sleep [on the plane]," Toffoli said. "I just watched a movie that was playing -- "Silver Linings Playbook." I wasn't really thinking about it a whole lot. I'm just excited to get the opportunity to come here."
Quick has not appeared as sharp as last season, posting a 7-7-2 record and 2.59 goals-against record. His backup, Bernier, is 5-1-0 with a 1.92 GAA.
“He’s got to get the swagger back,” Sutter said of Quick following his team's morning skate. “As well as Bernier’s played, the last guy that’s won us a game is Jonathan Quick. He came off the bench and won us a game. That’s character. That’s character in battle, so that’s a really good thing.”
The Kings held an optional skate but their lineup appears to be the same.
Here is their projected lineup against the Flames:
Perhaps it was out of superstition, but Boudreau is aware of the history even though he only has been in Anaheim since 2011. The gist: Anaheim has won 15 straight at home against Calgary, which last won a regular-season game at Honda Center on Jan. 19, 2004.
That breaks down to an 0-10-5 record going into Friday's game. The past eight meetings have been decided by one goal, with two in overtime and three by shootout.
"Every game we play Calgary is a one-goal game, and [with] them finally getting above .500, I think this will be the toughest game of the bunch," Boudreau said.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Anybody who had Jake Muzzin with four goals and Drew Doughty with zero at the 21-game mark of the season should probably head to the nearest casino.
That's where it stands for Doughty, who is still searching for his first goal going into Thursday, when the Los Angeles Kings play the Dallas Stars.
"It's frustrating, obviously," the defenseman said. "It's in my head too often. I want to get that goal really bad. It's not that I'm cheating or doing anything different to try and get it. I'm still just playing my solid defensive game and if I have that opportunity, I'll try to put one in the net. Yeah, it's frustrating, but the coaches are happy with the way I'm playing. If I don't score a goal and we're winning, it really doesn't matter."
"We've got to kind of be prepared for everything and he made us well aware of that going into the season," Getzlaf said. "Bruce is a communicator. He lets us know on everything that's going on and he doesn't like to keep things one general way."
Ryan obviously is more than familiar with Getzlaf and Perry considering they formed one of the most potent lines in the League the past few seasons.
"By now we've played with everybody," Getzlaf said. "Generally we play a puck-possession game, so everybody who steps on our line knows that. They've got to come in and work, and we've got to try and work with them."
Here is how the Ducks and Phoenix Coyotes could match up when they meet Wednesday:
ANAHEIM -- Will the Phoenix Coyotes bring back one of their best offensive pieces to add a twist to the third installment of their trilogy with the Anaheim Ducks?
Coach Dave Tippett said Wednesday that forward Radim Vrbata is close to returning from an upper-body injury that has kept him out since Feb. 16.
"We'll see how things go there," Tippett said. "Vrbata is close. Whether he plays or not, I'm not sure."
What is certain is that the first two games of the unusual three-game series have been Twilight Zone-like similar. Phoenix won both games 5-4 in a shootout, and the eight goals in regulation were scored in the exact same sequence as Anaheim blew leads of 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3.
That's largely why Hitchcock will insert Ian Cole back on defense when St. Louis plays L.A. on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-1, 219-pound Cole will be needed against some of the Kings' big forwards such as Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown.
"The opponent dictates that," Hitchcock said. "They've got a big lineup and Ian's played OK against them. ... I think just from getting bounced around standpoint, when you play L.A. you're going to get bounced around. You've just got to fight through it.
"They're a big team, but they're a big, smart team. I mean, there's a difference. There's lots of big teams in the League, but they're a big, smart team, which I think makes a big difference."
Boudreau earlier this season suggested he would give veteran blueliners Souray and Toni Lydman days off during back-to-back sequences; Anaheim plays at the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.
Souray did not take all of his turns with usual partner Francois Beauchemin at the morning skate, and Ben Lovejoy came off with the regulars. Asked if this might be an occasion to rest 36-year-old Souray, Boudreau said, "It might. I've got to talk to him. But somewhere during this month there's going to be days off for him."
Boudreau said he looks at Souray differently due to Souray's history of injuries.
"You look at him, how his season went last year, you look at him that he is an older player, how many minutes he plays -- all of these things you want to take into account," Boudreau said.
"There's a lot of reasons why you want to keep a guy like him fresh because he's done great for us.”
Although they gave up the game-winning goal with five seconds remaining, the Kings played their best game to that point and have since won six of seven, allowing seven total goals in that span. They come full circle Wednesday night when Detroit comes to Staples Center.
What changed in that Feb. 10 game? Jarret Stoll said the Kings got back to better puck movement.
“Whether it’s a 5-, 6-, 8-foot pass to score, moving the puck up the ice is really key instead of having the sloppy pass or the sloppy bobbled puck, and then you’re in one in your own zone,” Stoll said. “A team like Detroit – they can sense that, they can feel that. They’re smart at that. We’ve got to make sure we’re sharp moving the puck, supporting each other.”
It will be the Kings' first look at Fasth, who at 8-0-0 is trying to match Ray Emery in 2005 for the longest winning streak to start an NHL career. The Ducks beat the Kings, 7-4, in a wild affair Feb. 2, and Jonas Hiller was in net for Anaheim.
For the Kings, there is some unknown element to Fasth outside of game film.
Giguere is expected to start in the second game of a back-to-back sequence. He is 2-1 against the Ducks since he was traded from Anaheim to Toronto on Jan.31, 2010.
Colorado got captain Landeskog back from a head injury Saturday night but lost, 4-1, to the Los Angeles Kings. It is looking for a better game from its top players as McGinn, Duchene and Parenteau were a combined minus-9.
Stastny has only one goal in his past eight games.
Martinez has been skating but has not taken contact yet.
Coach Darryl Sutter earlier this week reunited the Brown-Kopitar-Williams line for the first time since last season. Brown responded with a goal Wednesday against the Calgary Flames to end a seven-game goal-less spell.
Sutter also promoted Lewis to the second line recently as Lewis has a goal and two assists in his past two games.
The traditional strategy is not to mess with a streak and go with the hot goalie. Fasth is 8-0-0 and one win away from tying Ray Emery for longest winning streak to begin an NHL career.
But Fasth has played twice in the previous three nights and it appears that Jonas Hiller will return to the lineup now that he’s healthy. Hiller was first off the ice at the morning skate and said he’s back from a lower-body muscle strain that forced him out of his last start Feb. 8.
“I’ve been skating full practices for the last few days and I’ve felt good and never gotten worse,” Hiller said. "I definitely feel comfortable where I’m at.”
"It's easy, I know where I'm going," Johnson said.
Johnson wasn't drafted by the Kings but he came up through their organization and was seen, along with Drew Doughty, as a mainstay on the franchise's blue line. He was a fan favorite because of his hard-hitting play and booming shot. Kings fans used to shout an R-rated cheer in his honor.
But Johnson was traded, along with a 2013 first-round draft pick, to the Blue Jackets for Jeff Carter, a move that helped the Kings win the first Stanley Cup in their 45-year history.
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks will be without defenseman Cam Fowler for at least one game, but the good news was that it might not be a long-term injury.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said Monday morning that he didn't get the feeling that Fowler would be out for an extended time after he was driven into the boards from behind by Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll on Saturday night. Fowler left the game with an apparent head injury and did not return.
"There's no sense of that right now," Boudreau said. "We'll see as time goes on as this week prolongs. I know just today that he's not playing today [against the San Jose Sharks]."
Going into Saturday, Fowler led Anaheim with 22:28 minutes of average ice time. His spot will be filled by rookie Sami Vatanen, who made his NHL debut last Friday. Listed at 5-foot-10, Vatanen made a name for himself in the Finnish league as an undersized, risk-reward defenseman, and he was close to a point-per-game player with Norfolk of the American Hockey League this season.
Boudreau said he's OK with the risk factor. He also said that, "I don't anticipate Cam being out for very long," and indicated he wants Vatanen to keep it simple.
"To me, he just wants to play the game that he played last time and nothing more," Boudreau said. "I'm not going to sit there and send pictures of [Patrick] Marleau and [Joe] Thornton to his house all afternoon saying, 'Be prepared for these guys.' He's just got to do what he does best, and we'll do the rest."
Vatanen was put on the first power play unit in his debut and looked comfortable. Part of that poise was honed overseas, where he carried his team from the blue line.
"Of course it helps playing with the big guys there the last three years," Vatanen said. "It helps me get ready for this league. If you come in the juniors to here, it's a little bigger jump than from the pro league there. I think I was ready to come here."
"He's got some natural talent and vision for this game that, you know, not many young kids have," Lydman said. "You have to realize he's played in the Finnish league for a while now and has been the best defenseman there the past two years. It shows – he's not out of junior. I think he looked better than most kids that age."
Boyle expected to play:Dan Boyle did not participate in the morning skate, but coach Todd McLellan said it was a precautionary measure. Boyle missed the Jan. 29 game against Anaheim with flu.
"[He's] still fighting the cold and flu bug and that type of stuff, so he doesn't need to be skating in pre-game skates in the morning, and [I] anticipate him playing," McLellan said.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Anze Kopitar got to know his friend and rival Bobby Ryan when the two played for Mora IK in Sweden during the work stoppage.
Kopitar actually recruited Ryan through his agent to bring him overseas.
But the two are back on different sides Saturday night when the Los Angeles Kings play at the Anaheim Ducks. Did Kopitar glean any more knowledge on how to play against Ryan after being his linemate?
"You get to know the guy a little better," Kopitar said. "You get to know his strengths and weaknesses at the same time … We all know he's a goal scorer. You got to play [well against] him just like any other guy in the League."
Kopitar said he hung out with Ryan during their off time and it's clear the two have respect for each other. Kopitar has feasted on the Ducks, with 37 points in 36 career games, while Ryan is known to have big games against the Kings. His spin-o-rama goal to complete a hat trick at Staples Center on Jan. 8, 2009 stands out.
Their friendship might get up close and personal now that Ryan is playing center and might take a few faceoffs against Kopitar.
"We'll be facing each other pretty often," Kopitar said.
This is the first meeting of the teams since Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup to match Anaheim's 2007 Cup triumph. Outside of Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau's open dislike of the Kings, both sides have downplayed the dynamic.
"They were the champs a few years ago," Kopitar said. "It will be like any other game. It will be physical. It will be intense. The crowd's going to be into it. We're looking for two points. It doesn't matter how they come."
Penner returns to the lineup: Dustin Penner will return to the lineup as the Kings look to generate scoring from the left wing.
Coach Darryl Sutter confimed to reporters Friday that Penner would return. Penner has not played since Jan. 22. He had no points with a minus-2 rating in the first two games, and conditioning seemed to be part of the issue.
The Kings have reverted to last season and are averaging 1.83 goals a game. Their power play is 2-for-33.
"Our left side has a grand total of two goals this year," Sutter said. "We need more balance right now."
Penner will likely slide into the left wing spot on the second line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, a line that was quite effective for the Kings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Penner practically resurrected his career with 11 points in 20 postseason games.
Willie Mitchell has not skated for a week but club officials have said the defenseman has not had a setback from December knee surgery to remove cartilage. Mitchell said last month he wanted to be smart in his recovery and has been working out away from the ice.
It would make sense given the back-to-back situation with the rival Los Angeles Kings coming to Honda Center on Saturday. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau split Fasth and Hiller in the Ducks' first back-to-back sequence.
Boudreau certainly didn't tip his hand when asked about his goalie philosophy.
"Sometimes you can overthink it," Boudreau said. "Sometimes it's statistical in how goalies have done against teams in the past. There's a lot of little factors that go into it, and then you come up with a decision."
The Kings' rough-and-tumble wing was concussed after a hit by the Vancouver Canucks' Byron Bitz in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals and didn't play the rest of the postseason. But Clifford is making up for that lost time with a role on L.A.'s second line.
"I'm coming in and not changing my game -- I'm playing my style," Clifford said at the morning skate. "It's a privilege to play with those two guys -- Carts and Richards. I'm just trying to do my best and keep it simple."
Asked about Richards, coach Darryl Sutter said, "It's been an adjustment for some of our guys in terms of getting up to pace. He's one of those guys that need to get up to pace."
Sutter will likely bench Dustin Penner for a third straight game. Sutter was typically blunt when asked about Simon Gagne playing out of his usual role, as the fourth line left wing.
"He better get used to it or it will be a totally different role," Sutter said.
The Kings have basically picked up where they left off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with an 0-for-23 drought on the power play. A lot of times it's a matter of getting that first goal out of the way.
"We've created some good chances on the power play, I think everyone can see that," Drew Doughty said. "But the bottom line is, it doesn't matter how many chances you're creating, you need to put the puck in the net. It's something that all of us on the power play are frustrated with right now. Going into tonight, we've just got to be hungry to score that goal."
The bright spot on offense is, of all players, usual fourth line wing Kyle Clifford, who leads the team with five points. Clifford emerged as a scorer two postseasons ago and played in the ECHL during the lockout.
Clifford is a Sutter-type player and Sutter naturally had no reservations putting him on the second line with Richards and Jeff Carter.
"He was so happy that he won [the Stanley Cup], he was still disappointed because he didn't get to play after he got [concussed] in the Vancouver series," Sutter said in reference to last season's Western Conference Quarterfinals.
"That was his whole purpose when he left -- to put himself in a position to play regularly."
Sutter predictably downplayed the rematch against the Canucks, who were the sixth Presidents' Trophy winner to lose in the first round. But Doughty acknowledged the subplot.
"They're a good team, so you kind of learn to hate them," Doughty said. "Tonight's going to be a full-out battle and we're all looking forward to it.
"Waking up this morning, knowing that we're playing them, everyone's so pumped to get out there and get after them. It's going to be a physical matchup -- which everyone loves -- you're getting banged, but at the same time you're giving it back. We love that, and there's nothing more rewarding than beating a team that's won the conference the last couple of years in a row, so we're really looking forward to hopefully doing that tonight."
Roberto Luongo is expected to start in goal for Vancouver. Luongo was replaced by Cory Schneider after he allowed seven goals against the Kings in the first two games of the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Gaustad said he’s fit to go after he missed the previous three games with an upper-body injury. He is expected to take his center spot on the fourth line against the Anaheim Ducks.
“It’s good to be back tonight,” Gaustad said. “It wasn’t too long, and it’s good to be a contributor again.”
Nashville gets back one of the top faceoff men in the League and a key penalty killer. Coach Barry Trotz likened it to Vancouver Canucks faceoff ace Manny Malhotra.
“You can dictate where you’re putting the puck and hopefully if you have it, you’re getting out of your zone," Trotz said. "The great thing about 'Goose' is that he’s good on the left, but he’s one of the few guys that switches over the right and takes the right-hand draw.”
The Swedish Elite League’s Goaltender of the Year the past two seasons, Fasth was signed last May to be Hiller’s backup. His season was interrupted in November because of hip and groin issues and he was sent to the AHL to get playing time earlier this month.
Boudreau has previously suggested that he would like to split the goalie starts in back-to-back situations. The Ducks had an optional skate and, for what it’s worth, Fasth came off the ice first.
Speaking generally on how he manages the starts, Boudreau said, “You do it on feel. You can script out the first five games on who is going to play. But we’ll see how it works out. Viktor played three games last week in the American [Hockey] League last week, so it’s not like he’s totally rusty.”
After a year of hard work in the American Hockey League and an abbreviated training camp with the Ducks, the 22-year-old Holland will center the fourth line in Anaheim's home opener.
Coach Bruce Boudreau had used 19-year-old Rickard Rakell in the first two games, but wants to give Holland a look, even if it's in a limited role.
"As a scorer he's not being put in a position to score being on the so-called fourth line, but we'd love to see where his compete level is," Boudreau said. "When they talk about him game in and game out, the consistency of the compete level isn't there, but I'd like to see a solid game from him. And if somebody in the top three centers go out, he's a guy that can easily replace them with offensive ability. We think it's a good fit right now."
Boudreau said Rakell, Anaheim's first round pick in 2011, "has been very good" the first two games. But Holland might be the right fit long term given he has more professional experience.
A center in the Ryan Getzlaf mold with a good shot, Holland scored a goal in a four-game stint with Anaheim last season under former coach Randy Carlyle. He is the leading scorer for Norfolk, the Ducks' American Hockey League team, and was named to the AHL All-Star team.
Holland naturally was eager to get in the lineup and knows this is a new opportunity under Boudreau.
"I definitely think there's a little bit of anxiety and a little bit of nervousness," Holland said. "Obviously the goal was to be in every game this year. To not play the first two makes you really want to come out and have a good showing here, and especially in the home opener."
Here is the lineup the Ducks likely will go with Friday:
LOS ANGELES – Simon Gagne went from not playing in an NHL game in five months to having a potential Stanley Cup-game-winning goal on his stick.
In the second period of a scoreless Game 4, Gagne broke in for a partial breakaway on Martin Brodeur. As the building collectively held its breath, Brodeur made a left pad save and the New Jersey Devils emerged untouched.
"I would have liked to try another chance like that," Gagne said. "On this play, I tried something on the glove side and he made a big pad save. He played well tonight. He was really in it. We knew that he was going to be one of the best goaltenders [we've faced]."
LOS ANGELES -- Simon Gagne will have more than a one-off cameo in the Stanley Cup Final.
Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter indicated that Gagne would be back in for Game 4 on Wednesday. Sutter inserted him in Game 3 in Gagne's first game since a Dec. 26 concussion.
Gagne saw 6:39 of ice time and took a slashing penalty.
"Hopefully he’s better tonight," Sutter said.
Gagne said it was somewhat of an eye-opener to be thrust into a Final game after five months off. He feels more comfortable for the second go-around.
"I watched the tape. I watched what I did," Gagne said. "It was good to get back on the ice. I kind of had this feeling what the speed was, but until you play you don't know. It was good to get on it and know how much the game is so intense and so fast. Going there now, I know what to expect and watching the tape of all my shifts, I could change a couple of things. Now I definitely want to take it to the next level tonight."
It is a victory for Gagne just to get back on the ice. He has a history of concussions, and if the Kings didn't make it this far he would have had to wait another six months to play in an NHL game.
"My goal is just to get back to healthy and be 100 percent," Gagne said. "Until you play a game, until you take the time to heal 100 percent, you don't know. That's what's great about this season. This team went far this year to help me, to know that right away instead of waiting in September or October when the season is going to start. For me, with all my past and all the injury I had, it was great to know right away that everything's good. I felt really good. It's been a while since I was feeling good."
He's long known as blunt and honest, and he will drop an expletive now and then to get a point across, such as in December when he called Dustin Penner’s play "horse [expletive]."
Sutter reminded everyone of his no-nonsense way of communicating Tuesday when he was asked, on microphone during his off-day press conference, where he was when Kings general manager Dean Lombardi called him about the coaching job.
"I think I was in the barn [in Alberta]," Sutter said. "I wasn't shoveling [expletive]. I remember that. But I had that day."
It was the line of the day for many who are not around Sutter regularly, and even for those who are. For his players, it's just another daily dose of Darryl, who tends a farm in the family's home near Viking, Alberta.
"It doesn’t surprise me at all," Colin Fraser said. "He likes using farming references all the time -- 'strapping the feedbag on' and stuff. He looks intimidating and all that stuff, but he actually has a good sense of humor. I think he's got a good balance of when guys need a kick in the butt and when they need a pat on the back. He's got good timing with both the humor and the seriousness."
Players actually had trouble understanding Sutter when he first arrived because he mumbles. Dustin Brown said they didn't bother going to the grease board in the first few practices, but they eventually learned Sutter's nuances and delivery.
Most players like that he's a throwback-type of coach.
"He's pretty rough around the edges," Rob Scuderi said. "But I think most guys in hockey can kind of appreciate it because we all come from pretty humble backgrounds, so it's more funny than anything."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Longtime Los Angeles Kings television announcers Bob Miller and Jim Fox will get to call a potential Stanley Cup-clinching game after all.
The pair will record a call on their own for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday and the recording will likely be made available later for fans, team spokesman Mike Altieri said.
The Los Angeles Kings will attempt to sweep the New Jersey Devils for their first Cup in franchise history. Kings fans have missed hearing Miller, the play-by-play announcer since 1973, and Fox, the analyst since 1990, call the games on a remarkable 15-2 run by L.A. and they naturally want a Miller-Fox Cup-clinching recording for posterity.
Miller and Fox called the Western Conference Quarterfinals before NBC and its affiliate networks assumed broadcasting rights.
Altieri said Miller and Fox were excited to do it as the plan has been in the works for weeks.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It was difficult to tell whether Simon Gagne had the desired impact when he returned to the lineup for the first time in five months.
Gagne played fewer than seven minutes of ice time Monday in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, and Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter wouldn't elaborate on Gagne on Tuesday. Game 4 is Wednesday.
"Well he hadn't played for six months," Sutter said. "He played six minutes. So we'll make that decision tomorrow."
In a stunning move, Sutter activated Gagne in place of Brad Richardson on the fourth line. Gagne had not played since Dec. 26 because of a concussion, but eventually got healthy and, remarkably, became available in late May.
Gagne's teammates were naturally happy to see him return after such a long road back.
"He's been my teammate for a while, and to see him come back from something that didn't look very good for him -- it was a big thing, I think, for our hockey team," Mike Richards said. "It gave us probably a little extra jump to see him in the lineup."
Richards identifies with Gagne, a former Philadelphia Flyers teammate, because Richards also had a concussion in December. Richards only missed eight games and hinted he might have come back too soon. Gagne was out for so long it was thought to be a potentially career-ending concussion.
"A good friend, to come back from an injury like that -- sometimes you don't know with things like that," Richards said. "It was nice to see and I'm sure he enjoyed being on the ice and we definitely enjoyed having him."
By playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Gagne is eligible to get his name engraved on the Cup, although a team can also petition for a player to receive the honor.
Gagne had seven goals and 10 assists in 34 regular season games.
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles in June is not exactly what comes to mind when thinking of crisp ice surfaces and fall-like weather conditions. But defenseman Willie Mitchell sounded giddy after the morning skate at Staples Center on a mild, gray Monday.
"I don't want to say it, but it felt like the [Edmonton] Oilers ice in the mid-'90s out there," Mitchell said. "It felt great. We could have a decent hockey game on our hands -- not too humid. It's cold out there, the ice is nice. You can actually make passes.
"You don't say that about Staples ice too often. It tells you how bad the ice was out in New Jersey. It felt really nice out there and guys were quite excited about it, and I'm sure the Devils will be as well. I think you'll probably get much more up-tempo hockey game because of that."
Both the Kings and Devils are looking forward to a smoother surface for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after they slugged through a humid Game 1 at the Prudential Center. Several players complained about the poor ice causing bouncing pucks as both teams had to play more conservatively.
It's a common issue with hockey in June, no matter the city or venue. Mother Nature seemed to be in compliance in L.A. on Monday as it was expected to be 69 degrees with 71 percent humidity.
A full building will affect the ice slightly, but the Kings players said a Staples surface that isn't known for smoothness felt good.
"It was a lot better -- which is funny considering Staples ice," captain Dustin Brown said. "We complain about Staples ice all year. Granted, it's a lot better when it's an empty building … I think it will be a quicker game because of the ice."
Said Jarret Stoll, "I think the temperature in the building is a difference, for sure. I noticed it during the skate this morning. We expect to be sharp. We expect to be crisp, and we'll go for there."
Home ice hasn't really been kind to the Kings. Their only two losses of the Stanley Cup Playoffs have come at Staples. They have outscored opponents 34-15 on the road and 11-9 at home. They have one power-play goal at home against five on the road.
Those five shorthanded goals by L.A.? All came on the road.
The Kings will otherwise look to feed off their home crowd. Although cavernous, Staples Center is known as one of the louder arenas come playoff time, and the adrenaline level can be elevated for players.
"You got to harness it," Mitchell said. "I think you can't play outside yourself. Just do what we do and do it hard, and kind of find that fine line where you don't get overly excited and use it to motivate you."
LOS ANGELES -- Kings captain Dustin Brown was the early favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy but the New Jersey Devils have kept him off the score sheet in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
Brown, who had seven goals and nine assists in the first 14 playoff games, had no shots on goal with four hits in Game 2. He said the Devils have been effective defending his line of Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.
"I think they've done a good job on us," Brown said. "I think it's up to me, Kopi and Williams to make adjustments to be better. I think collectively we had one shot on goal last game, which is not good enough, individually or as a line. And that's up to me, Kopi and Will to find a way to better. I know I can be personally better along the walls. I'm sure if you ask Kopi and Will, they'll say they can be better."
Brown, of course, does other things that count. He had three shots and three hits and a blocked shot in Game 1.
"Brownie does a lot of things that people don't notice," Jarret Stoll said. "He's doing his thing. He's a player that can break out offensively at any moment. He does a lot of things out there that help our team win the game. Every facet, on and off the ice, he's phenomenal."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The obvious knock on the Los Angeles Kings for most of the season was that they were stellar defensively to stay in games, but didn't have enough offense to close it out a victory.
Even after Darryl Sutter was hired on Dec.21, the Kings struggled to score for two months. However, they still managed to go 25-13-11 under Sutter.
That last number is telling. Los Angeles played in 24 overtime or shootout games in the regular season, tied with the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks for the second-most in the League. The Kings also played in 46 one-goal games (the New Jersey Devils played in 37). L.A. is 6-0 in one-goal playoff games, while New Jersey is 6-4.
So did the experience from playing in all those close games carry over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where the Kings are 4-0 in overtime games?
"It would be interesting to see how many one-goal games we've played the last three years," Dustin Brown said.
That's a reflection of former coach Terry Murray, who was instrumental in molding the Kings into the defense-first team that is the foundation of this edition's juggernaut. L.A.'s lack of offense got him fired, though, and Sutter made them more aggressive without compromising that defense.
It also helps to have a unique mix of veterans and young stars, too.
"It's part of the makeup of our team and how we play," Brown said. "I think we're definitely comfortable in tight games, and that's due to some guys having a lot of big game experience and some guys playing here the last few years have been in a lot of those situations."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. –Willie Mitchell wonders what would have happened if Les Widdifield hadn't seen him play 16 years ago.
Widdifield was a longtime scout for the New Jersey Devils, and he spotted a young Mitchell playing in tiny Melfort, Sasakatchewan. Widdifield, who died last September, liked what he saw and told his bosses to give this Mitchell kid a long look.
"I still remember that phone call," said Mitchell, who was drafted 199th by New Jersey in 1996 and spent five seasons in the organization. "They took a flyer on me – eighth round, 199 in 1996 playing Tier 2 junior. Probably if they didn't do that, I would have never got the chance."
DeBoer coached Richards as coach of the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL for four years, from when Richards was 16 to 19. Richards served as captain on some of those teams, and the relationship helped produced a Memorial Cup in 2003 (New Jersey's David Clarkson was also on that team).
Gagne got medical clearance earlier this month and is now available to play. It’s a long shot integrating Gagne back into the team, although coach Darryl Sutter sort of backed off his earlier stance that Gagne had no chance at playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Doan on Friday apologized for his actions, saying he was wrong to dismiss Brown when Brown tried to explain the play during the handshake.
Brown told NHL.com on Friday that “it’s one of those things that’s done and happened and I’m not really thinking about it Phoenix. I’m more focused on moving forward.”
Brown did say the apology was not surprising considering Doan is known as a class guy off the ice.
“I’ve known him a little bit,” Brown said. “I was taken aback a little bit but, hey, it’s an emotional game.”
Brown found himself talking about the hit on Rozsival again and said it was an unfortunate turn of events from the Coyotes’ perspective.
“I play the game hard, and I thought it was a clean hit, and that’s it,” Brown said. “We’re moving on. Again, it happened so quick for them, that I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt on the emotional level. It’s an emotional game out there.”
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes weren't considered to be fierce rivals before this season, but it probably won't be the same from here on out.
The teams staged an entertaining Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals that turned scary with Dustin Brown's hit on Michal Rozsival. Phoenix seemed still to be in shock at the play when Dustin Penner scored the series-clinching overtime goal.
Penner called it a "recipe" for what happened next, as the Coyotes' Martin Hanzal and Shane Doan gave Brown a piece of their mind in the post-series handshake line. It still was a topic two days later.
"Yeah, I've never seen that before," Penner said. "I got chirped in line, too, for my headlock I put on [Antoine] Vermette in Game 2. He wanted to rehash that. I was a little surprised."
Did Penner say anything back?
“I was really surprised," Penner said. "[I said] 'I don’t have time to talk, right now, about this. I've got a flight to catch.'"
Did Penner send a BlackBerry message to Vermette?
"We didn't exchange PIN numbers," he said.
Willie Mitchell was too caught up in emotion to notice the handshake incidents, but he was diplomatic about it.
"It's different, but hey, I know their side of it," Mitchell said. "We put so much into it and they're the same way. They put so much into the preparation, the work, to get to that point. There's a lot of emotion involved and I'm sure they were more emotional at the time because their season ended and sometimes stuff gets a little bit heated and that's why hockey's so heated. The intensity level is high. I was surprised by that, but I also understand it."
Kings coach Darryl Sutter had the same feeling about it when he was asked Wednesday.
"It's an emotional time for everybody," he said. "A lot of times there's handshakes done behind closed doors. You leave it at that. The traditional handshake is wonderful. But lots of things happen behind closed doors ... Shane Doan's an awesome player and an awesome captain and I wish he were playing -- just not at our expense."
Well, the Los Angeles Kings have been to Vancouver and done this -- go on the road with a 3-1 series lead and clinch. Now they are in the exact same position, needing to win on the road to eliminate the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Justin Williams said after Game 4 that the Kings have to take the same approach as the Vancouver series. Team captain Dustin Brown concurred that this has the same feel.
"We've worked really hard to give ourselves this advantage early in the series and we let an opportunity slip by not capitalizing and being on home ice," Brown said. "Now it's up to guys to rally their own game and rally collectively to go into Phoenix with that attitude that we're coming out of there with a win."
This is the first sign of a setback the Kings have faced since the Vancouver series. In Game 4 of the conference finals they fell into a two-goal deficit for the first time since Game 4 of the quarterfinals; they recovered from that loss with a club record eight-game playoff winning streak that was snapped in Game 4 against the Coyotes.
"I think this team has handled adversity pretty well, considering the type of year we had," Brown said. "This time of year it's about sticking together. We lost one game, so it's a matter of rebounding."
A rebound win would make history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, a win would make the Kings the first team to go unbeaten on the road en route to the Stanley Cup Final under the current playoff format.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter consistently downplays his team's road success and has done a tremendous job of impressing that on his players. Asked about their confidence on the road, Sutter said, "Try to win the next game. It could be in Tucson or Toledo or Los Angeles. To me, that has no bearing on anything."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Earlier in the season, Drew Doughty and Mike Richards probably wouldn't have garnered much recognition or cheers by showing up at a Los Angeles Lakers game. But this is no ordinary time to be a sports fan in Los Angeles.
The two were shown on the big screen Friday night for the Lakers-Oklahoma City playoff game and the basketball fans gave the Staples Center co-tenants a proper acknowledgment. While the Kings are playing this deep into spring for the first time in 19 years, the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are also in the playoffs in an unprecedented smash-up of local sports on Sunday.
"I think it's great for the city," Rob Scuderi said. "Especially the Kings and the Lakers have been very successful … but for the Kings, it's been kind of a long drought as far as the postseason goes and postseason success. It's fun to see the city kind of rally around it and get into it. It's something that doesn't happen very often. Hopefully all three teams can go even farther."
Fraser said Saturday morning that his 19-month-old son, Calder, was hospitalized when the Kings were in Glendale, Ariz. He immediately returned to his summer home in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, to be with his family and he missed Games 2 and 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
Fraser said "everyone's healthy and I'm back and ready to play." He was simply happy to return to normalcy.
"At first, I didn't know what to do and I said, 'Forget it, I'm going home,'" Fraser said. "Obviously, I want to play and I want to be here and this is obviously something special. But at the end of the day, family comes first, and family is 100 percent, No.1. Hockey is going to come and go, but my family I'll have forever, so it was a no-brainer for me.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Perhaps it was steam blown off by a frustrated coach. Maybe Dave Tippett was trying to deflect attention from the three games to none series deficit his Phoenix Coyotes team is facing in the Western Conference Finals.
Tippett after Game 3 on Thursday criticized the officiating during the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a perceived failure to monitor "embellishment by players." It was meant to be a general statement about the postseason, but the Kings were naturally implicated.
LOS ANGELES -- Dustin Brown was intact and seemingly ready to go for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) at the Kings' morning skate.
The Los Angeles Kings captain probably was the most appreciative of the day off between Games 2 and 3 after he was the recipient of a slash from Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith and a boarding penalty from Martin Hanzal that earned the Coyotes center a one-game suspension.
What hurt more?
"Probably the hit," Brown said. "The slash, my leg went numb. … You're used to getting slashed every day.
"Going into intermission, my foot was sleeping, maybe a little numb. When I came out for the third, I had pretty much full feeling in my leg."
Hanzal boarded Brown when Brown chased his own chip to the end boards in the third period of Game 2. Brown stayed in the game, and if he was hurt, he is showing no effects from it.
"I got my arms up, so that's probably the best scenario considering the play," Brown said.
That Brown was not hurt factored into the one-game suspension levied by the NHL Player Safety Department. Also, Hanzal does not have a history of over-the-line play.
"I know these games are probably worth more," Brown said. "I thought he was going to get two [games]. But it's not an easy decision to make considering we're in the Western finals. As a player, you don't really worry about length. I guess the media really likes talking about the state of the game right now. Right now they've got one of their top centers out and we've got to be ready to go."
Brown sounded more irked at the diving penalty he was given on the full-swing slash by Smith.
"Quite surprised, I guess," Brown said. "I don't really understand it. It came down from over his head. I'm not sure. I still don't understand it. Most refs haven't been slashed on the back of the leg, either."
Kings coach Darryl Sutter only said of the suspension, "That's what the League valued it as. I'm thankful [Brown] didn't get hurt."
Fraser is an integral part of the Kings' grinding fourth line, but if can't play in Game 3 on Thursday, Sutter will likely turn back to Clifford, a big physical forward with a slight scoring touch. He was a surprise standout of the playoffs last season for L.A. when he played on a line with Richardson and Wayne Simmonds.
"Quite honestly, he was the logical guy to go in for [Fraser] because he brings the same sort of thing," Sutter said. "You can't take penalties and he's got to play hard and he's got to be responsible on the right side of the puck. If he does that, he gets a chance to play."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- One of the memorable plays from the Phoenix Coyotes' 1-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 16 was goaltender Mike Smith nearly scoring on the empty net with a length-of-the-ice clear in the waning seconds.
Smith is known for his deft puck-handling, and the Kings will have to limit his activity and possession time in the Western Conference Finals, which start Sunday.
"If he's going to be a third defenseman and he's going to be breaking them out of the zone all day, then we're not going to get the sustained pressure that we want," Justin Williams said.
"Certainly, the less he handles the puck the better off we are."
Smith's puck-handling can get him into trouble, too, in the form of turnovers and stray or poor clears. But it hasn't cost Smith much against L.A. He had a 1.76 goals-against average against the Kings this season, with nine goals allowed in five games.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Smith also presents a physical challenge as well.
"He's huge," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "Obviously he's worked hard on his game. The one thing you can't teach is size. There are times when he makes a save, we get good traffic on him, he goes into his stance or whatever you want to call it and the puck just hits him because he's so big. That's not something you can teach. The fact that he's as big as he is, makes it even more difficult for us.
"He's pretty good at staying above, looking above guys. He goes down and probably gives more room up top. He's able to track the puck really well again, because of his size. He plays as little deeper in his net, which has its advantages and disadvantages. For a guy that big, it gives him that extra second to react to the puck. Like I said, he's on top of his game right now. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings are finding out the downside to their efficient march through the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It’s kind of like a Tom Petty song: The waiting is the hardest part.
It will have been one week from their elimination of the St. Louis Blues until the puck drops on Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS). The necessity of a seventh game between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals on Saturday extended the time. L.A. has been back at practice for three days.
"From a player's standpoint, if we could play tomorrow, we would," captain Dustin Brown said. "Practice is one thing, a game's another, especially at this time of year. We're getting all the rest we need. But it's been a while. Not only that, these are exciting games to be a part of and we just want to keep going."
Coach Darryl Sutter is obsessed with schedule and his practice routine leading up to a series. The 5 p.m. Pacific start time for Game 1 means the Kings will likely practice in Phoenix on Saturday because Sutter won't have a morning skate on Sunday.
Sutter also thinks like a player, so he understands the challenge this week brings for him and his players.
"They're anxious," Sutter said. "It's normal, right? They're used to playing every second or third day."
L.A. is coming off an emotional Game 4 victory against St. Louis that propelled it to the conference finals for the first time since 1993. Sutter said the Kings have done well to quickly put it past them and focus on the next round.
He held an optional skate Tuesday, put them through conditioning drills Wednesday and did one-on-one drills Thursday.
"A little bit of recovery for some guys that are banged-up," Sutter said of this week. "Some of the older guys have two-and-a-half days without skating. You always wonder what that means. But quite honestly, you have communication with them and see how they feel about it. That's the most important part. So then you get back to practice and you reinforce some stuff. You reinforce Phoenix and what they've been doing differently."
Brown isn't worried about having to ramp up the energy and emotion after sitting around for a week. The Kings don’t need any more motivation at this point.
"It's one thing if we're sitting here after All-Star break, it's a little harder to get going for game whatever it is," Brown said. "We're talking Game 1 of the Western finals, so the emotion, the hard work will be there. It's a matter of knocking the rust off right -- the only way to do that is to get involved in the game."
Sutter, meanwhile, went to Dodger Stadium for the first time Wednesday night and was awed by the venerable venue.
"I'd love to go back when we're not playing because of all the history," Sutter said. "It's pretty awesome."
A former Flyers captain, Richards remains friends with his former teammates and still thinks positively of the city even though the Flyers traded him amid rumors of his alleged partying. The good memories are of those teammates.
"You always wish them the best and you never want to go against a team, especially when you have a lot of friends down there," Richards said. "It's a city that's given me a lot, so you always hope the best for them. Obviously we have a long ways to go before we even get there, but I know for [L.A. teammate and former Flyer Jeff Carter] and me, it would be a little bit awkward if we had to back there and play in the first year back. It would have been a little bit weird."
"I had him for four years in Kitchener [of the OHL] and how good a coach he is and how he got the team ready for them, and how demanding he is as a coach and how smart he is," Richards said. "I'm not surprised by that. They're obviously well-coached and they've stuck to their game plan to a tee. It's kind of fun to watch, how fast they were, and whoever plays them in the next round is going to have their hands full."
Game 3 saw rookie Dwight King pot his first playoff goal. Game 4? King's rookie roommate, Jordan Nolan, snapped home a loose puck for his first playoff goal.
Fifteen of 18 skaters have scored a goal for L.A. in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and 17 have recorded a point. The team's third and fourth lines have scored six goals. In other words, it's precisely the dynamic of championship teams.
"I think you look at lines three and four -- everybody's outscoring their opposition," Justin Williams said.
"Our third line has scored more than their line. Our fourth line has scored more than their fourth line. We're going to need solid contributions from everybody. That's what playoffs is. Sometimes if there's a couple of lines, they offset each other and it's the so-called unsung heroes who get the stuff done."
Williams and a handful of other Kings players that have won the Stanley Cup would know, having been on teams that got scoring depth throughout the lineup.
It's not just the forwards. Greene, who had four goals and 15 points in 82 regular season games, has one goal and four points in nine playoff games. He had more points (four) in the semifinal series victory against St. Louis than Blues winger Andy McDonald (three).
Willie Mitchell has a goal and an assist, and of course Drew Doughty leads the defensemen with one goal and six assists, including a three-point game in Game 4 against St. Louis. The only player that hasn't recorded a point is Colin Fraser.
"The other team can't just say, 'Well, if we shut down the top two lines we have a good chance of winning' because we have two other lines that score," Penner said. "But for us, if all four lines that can score, we've got D that can score … that's what you need to go deep in the playoffs, is contributions from every position."
If there's any surprise to the offensive output, it's that of Nolan and King, who were recalled from the American Hockey League on Feb.10. Both were brought up for their size -- Nolan is 6-foot-3, 227 pounds and King is 6-3, 234 -- and they weren't necessarily depended on for scoring.
But both have chipped in, in a fourth-line role for Nolan and a second- and third-line role for King. Nolan is the son of former NHL head coach Ted Nolan, while King is brothers with NHL forward D.J. King.
Sutter said he wasn't surprised at how they've adjusted to playoff-level hockey.
"They have handled it really well," Sutter said. "The best part about those two kids is probably their background. As we've gone along we've had to manage their minutes, obviously, because there is a more intense environment, but they've done a good job of giving us those minutes."
King and Nolan are still living in a hotel near the team's practice facility. Nolan is doing the cooking, although King said "we've been going out more" recently.
Penner said he's been impressed by their maturity and that it hasn't gone unnoticed in the dressing room.
"I think there's a sense of pride for the older guys watching the young guy come along that quickly, and buy in and appreciate where they are now," Penner said. "They've earned their keep."
Asked what he remembered about Whitney, Williams said, "He wasn't 40 -- putting up a lot of points as he is right now. But he was a big part of our team in '06, and certainly a huge part of their team right now. He's going to demand a lot of our attention. We're going to have to be hard on him, because he's a guy that can certainly have an impact on the series."
Whitney has two goals, including one game-winner, and six points in the playoffs.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Western Conference Semifinals were supposed to be a clash of similar styles with the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues both based on defense, goaltending and physical play.
The Phoenix Coyotes present more of the same, although there might be more even-strength play between the teams considering that the Coyotes average the fourth-fewest penalty minutes per game (9.5). They also entered Wednesday with the second-most five-on-five goals (22).
One aspect is that the teams have not played since Feb. 21, and the Kings know the Coyotes have since changed.
"They're very similar to us in the way that they play from a structure standpoint -- strong defense, strong goaltending," Brown said.
"The game plan is no secret that we need to get in on the forecheck. It's going to be the same as playing St. Louis … maybe we exposed St. Louis' goaltending a little bit, but at this time of year, it's about hard work, getting on the forecheck, making it hard on their guys that play a lot of minutes. [Oliver] Ekman-Larsson plays 30 minutes a game. It's important for us to get on him. We have to wear on guys like that throughout the series, and the other guy we got to really make it hard on is Mike Smith."
EL SEGINDO, Calif. -- Kings rookie Jordan Nolan scored his first career playoff goal Sunday. On the other side of the globe his father, Ted, coached Latvia to a 3-2 victory over Germany in the World Championship in Stockholm.
Jordan Nolan said his father was able to call him at about 10 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday night, and his father gave him the message of "Congratulations. You're working hard out there. Keep it up,'" Jordan Nolan said.
Jordan Nolan gave L.A. a 1-0 lead in Game 4 by snapping home a loose puck near the inside edge of the right circle. It was only his third goal since he was recalled from Manchester of the AHL on Feb. 10.
"A lot of excitement," Jordan Nolan said. "I didn't want to celebrate too much, though."
Brian Elliott will take the net again after he allowed four goals in Game 3. He is 0-3 with a 3.75 goals-against average and .845 save percentage in the series. Coach Ken Hitchcock on Saturday declined to talk about Elliott bouncing back.
"He had one bad game and he's battled for us all year," Stewart said. "If it wasn't for him or [Jaroslav Halak] we wouldn't be in the position we are this year. I don't think one bad game is going to sum up our year. We're going to battle for him."
That's sort of the reason that St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock will tinker with his lineup again in the Western Conference Semifinals. Hitchcock said Saturday that he will insert Ryan Reaves on the fourth line and Ian Cole on defense for Game 4 on Sunday at Staples Center.
"More size, more speed – keep pulling speed into the lineup and it works," Hitchcock said. [Matt D'Agostini] was good. Obviously, [Chris Stewart] was good. [Reaves] brings more speed, more size and just keep trying to get better. ... We're close. The last game was our best game. Hopefully tomorrow will be even better."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The series has played out the way Blues coach Ken Hitchcock envisioned in that his team is running into a Kings club that has been dialed in since late February-early March.
L.A. had to come on like gangbusters just to get the eighth seed, and now the Kings' grinding style is perfectly suited for the playoffs against a team that plays the same way.
"I think we're getting done to us what we've done to teams all year," Hitchcock said. "I think we're getting it done to us. It's how do we react to this now?
"Everybody that watched the West saw this coming around 65-66 games. I think we all saw this coming. We saw it before we got here. The game 75 [on March 22] that was here was better than any of these games of these playoffs so far. We were on top of it. They were on top of it. It ended up 0-0 (the Kings won 1-0 in a shootout). … When we left the Staples Center we all said, 'Man, whoever gets that team in the playoffs got their hands full.'"
Said forward Jamie Langenbrunner," They're playing a very sound, smart, controlled game. They're forcing us to make mistakes and we've been the one to crack in every game -- and that's kind of been our calling card all year."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- St. Louis held an optional skate and most players practiced as the task at hand crystalizes for the Blues.
It's not only that they've lost games, but the way in which they've gone down is disturbing. St. Louis has not led this series since the first period of Game 1, and coach Ken Hitchcock had a telling quote about being in that unfamiliar position.
"We're not built for coming from behind all the time," Hitchcock said.
St. Louis seemed to take back Game 3 when it tied it at 1 at the start of the second period, but then disintegrated with more undisciplined play and poor goaltending and fell behind by two goals.
"When we do find ourselves playing from behind we tend to do things that are uncharacteristic of us and dig ourselves in a deeper hole," defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said.
"We've only played with the lead once in the series and that was short lived. I think we've been a really good team all year playing with the lead. There's no reason things will change now. We just got to find a way to get that lead and carry some sort of positive momentum our way."
The Blues were still at a loss to explain the undisciplined play. They took roughing and slashing penalties in the first period of Game 3 and failed to make Los Angeles retaliate.
Getting a lead in Game 4 would help, but staying at even strength would also go a long way toward extending this series.
"It's huge," Colaiacovo said. "We keep shooting ourselves in the foot by giving then all the momentum. In a series like this we've got to find better ways to control our emotions and make sure we do stay out of the box. Those are some key moments in the game where we took some questionable penalties. Our discipline has to be a lot better in all areas of the game."
LOS ANGELES -- In order to feel more like home, the Kings are staying in a hotel downtown and practically treating Thursday like a road game.
L.A. hardly ever has a morning skate at Staples Center, which also hosts the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. But coach Darryl Sutter wanted his players get more familiar with their game rink. The Kings have not played at home since April 18, more than two weeks ago.
"I haven't been downtown very much," Sutter quipped when asked about changing the routine.
L.A.'s home record isn't a laughing matter, though. The Kings, whose 5-0 road playoff record matches the 2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning, are only 1-1 at home in the playoffs. They were 22-14-5 at Staples Center in the regular season, which ranked 19th in the League.
"I personally liked it," Jarret Stoll said. "The ice is a little bit different than our practice facility so it's good to get on the ice, get your edges going and just snapping the puck around in a kind of a familiar setting. I don't mind it."
Sutter on Doughty: Sutter had an interesting take on Drew Doughty, who seems to elevate his game for the postseason after a somewhat quiet regular season.
Doughty, 22, is known for his offensive dynamic, and Sutter said the other part of his game can come around.
"I think he's learning how to be better defensively," Sutter said. "I'm not saying he's miscast or anything like that, but for a kid that plays that many minutes, it was probably forced on him a little bit. … He has all the natural ability … it's just a matter of knowing when to use it and when not to use it. From a defensive standpoint, he's probably got a long ways to go."
Sutter added that, "From my standpoint … I think that he's just scratching the offensive part of it -- when to use it and how to use it."
LOS ANGELES -- The St. Louis Blues will get a direly needed addition back in their lineup when defenseman Alex Pietrangelo returns from a lower-body injury (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).
Coach Ken Hitchcock said after Thursday's morning skate that Pietrangelo is ready for Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings.
"He's in. He'll play," Hitchcock said. "He's ready to go."
Pietrangelo was injured in Game 1 and St. Louis hasn't looked the same because the defenseman plays a vital role on special teams and even strength.
Hitchcock didn't understate the effect of Pietrangelo's return.
"[Game 1] was 1-1 and we're probably playing better than they are, and then he goes out and this whole thing changes," Hitchcock said. "It's hard to believe that one player makes that big a difference, but obviously, in our game, he did. So we're hoping that the whole stability part gets back to our team where we've got the right players playing in the right situations.
"There's going to be no tie-down on allowing him to play the minutes. He's going to have to play big minutes. He knows that. We waited 'til the last possible minute that he could play without any reservations. He's there now. This series changed dramatically with that one play and for whatever reason we haven't been able to get back up to speed back there, but I think you'll see us play very well tonight."
Pietrangelo did not speak to the media. He has been skating the past two days and Los Angeles is preparing for a different Blues team with him.
"He's an impact player because of the minutes played and special teams so it makes a huge difference," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "It's exactly what Hitch says -- we have [Drew] Doughty and they have him."
"He feels OK," Hitchcock said after the Blues' skate. "I don't know. We'll see tomorrow, if he feels OK tomorrow and wants to give it a go, we'll let him go. But it was nice to see him out there and he lasted the whole practice. It was a hard practice and he participated in everything, so we'll see."
Pietrangelo was boarded by Dwight King late in the second period of Game 1. He was at first thought to be concussed but Hitchcock later said it is a lower-body injury. Pietrangelo did not play in L.A.'s 5-2 win on Monday.
Pietrangelo is a major piece of the Blues' power play and his absence translated to an 0 for 9 performance in Game 2. St. Louis is 0 for 12 for the series and 0 for 26 on the season against Los Angeles.
One St. Louis player who didn't skate Wednesday was Jason Arnott. Hitchcock said the veteran center has a lower body injury and is day-to-day.
"Don't read the d-pairs in," Hitchcock said. "You can read the forwards in if you want and write those down and see how far you can get with that one but don't take the d-pairs."
Hitchcock continued to credit the Kings for their performance in back-to-back wins in St. Louis and pointed to what his team is up against.
"This opponent has had to be dug in for a long time," Hitchcock said. "L.A. has had to dig in for a long time. And then they had to go through a really good team to get to this level. They're at 100 percent. Their commitment is 100 and we're probably 85, and we know now against L.A. that's not good enough."
Sutter is a stickler for scheduling and routine, and he says there also is a something to playing in a familiar building and feeding off that energy.
"I'm still old school and I still want to play a deciding game in our building," he said. "I think early in the series, early in the playoffs, especially teams in the West, they prefer to play that always, because of travel. That's how I feel. I've been on both sides of it and I've won and lost both sides, so I don't know what the answer is.
"If you have a distinct home crowd flavor, it's always better. I go back again, those old buildings, old Chicago Stadium. Now they say what's the difference? All the buildings are the same. The ice surfaces are the same. But your home crowd can influence if you handle it right. Composure with young players is a big thing. Preparation is a big thing. When you weigh all that stuff … I'm just set in my ways now."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford skated again Wednesday in an encouraging sign in his recovery from what is believed to be a concussion, although the team is not using that term.
Clifford said he passed his "psych" test and feels better but is cautious about possibly coming back too soon after seeing other players make that mistake.
"It's just a matter of coming back at top shape," Clifford said. "It's a matter of time. It's going to happen."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Little has gone wrong for the Los Angeles Kings thus far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but there was one teachable aspect that they brought back home after Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Kings jumped on the St. Louis Blues for a four-goal opening period, but they were outshot 24-5 the rest of the way as St. Louis got reorganized, although it was too little, too late to prevent a 5-2 loss.
L.A. reconvened at its home facility Tuesday feeling good about owning a 2-0 series lead. But the Kings know the last 40 minutes weren't the ideal way they would have liked to take to victory.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- In addition to having teams that mirror each other in playing style, Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter and St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock were both early-season hirings brought in because of poor starts under their predecessors.
Sutter replaced Terry Murray [and interim coach John Stevens] on Dec. 20, when the team was 15-14-4, and guided the Kings to a 25-13-11 record in the regular season. After nearly two years away from coaching in the NHL, Hitchcock took over for Davis Payne in November after a 6-7 start and went a stunning 43-15-11 with the Blues, including a 27-5-5 record at home.
Overall, St. Louis went 30-6-5 at home, a number that has gotten Sutter's attention when he looks at the differences between his club and Hitchcock's, who are set to meet in the Western Conference Semifinals.
"They have 30 wins at home, and that's a significant number," Sutter said on Thursday before the Kings departed for St. Louis. "I don't care how you cut that. You win 30 games at home, that's something special. And if you look at seasons, both teams made coaching changes that have impacted how the teams play. I know Ken's style really well and he knows my style really well, and that's sort of where you leave it."
The two have a seven-year difference in age. Sutter playfully noted that Hitchcock was "a '51," meaning he was born in 1951 while Sutter is "a '58" for his birth year of 1958. But the two have similar backgrounds and paths to getting behind the bench.
Hitchcock grew up in the suburbs of Edmonton, Alberta, not far from Sutter's hometown of Viking. Hitchcock began his NHL coaching career as an assistant in the 1990s and guided the Dallas Stars to the Stanley Cup in 1999. Sutter started out as assistant and head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks and later took the Calgary Flames to the 2004 Final.
The respect between the two is clear. Sutter, of course, isn't surprised by what Hitchcock has done with the Blues.
"It's a pretty good hockey club and he's a pretty strong leader, [with] a good veteran group and kids that probably just needed a clear focus," Sutter said. "Hitch can establish that in a hurry … that's what good coaches do. Guys who have coached for a long time, they can adapt, and they have a good pulse on the room. He does that."
Quick is overly modest and prefers to frame individual accomplishment in a team context, and he was no different after his nomination for the Vezina Trophy was announced Wednesday.
"It's something that a lot of hard work has been put into and it kind of goes to credit the way these guys played in front of me all year," Quick said. "Being a goaltender is a position that you're more dependent on your teammate than any other position in sports. For your goalie to be put in a category like that, these guys are doing a tremendous job, which they've done for me all year."
Modesty aside, Quick clearly established himself this season and, at 26, is already considered among the top goalies in club history.
He led the NHL with 10 shutouts, was second in goals-against average at 1.95 and tied for fifth in save percentage (.929), which were all Kings' single-season records. He is the first Kings goalie to win 30 games (35 this season) for three straight seasons.
Quick had three straight shutouts from Oct. 18-22 and ran a consecutive scoreless streak to 202 minutes, 11 seconds. Quick was the foundation of a Kings team that failed to provide him offense. There were five games in which Quick allowed one goal and still lost, including back-to-back 1-0 losses on Feb. 16-18.
"It's kind of like a pitcher that gets no run support," Colin Fraser said. "He did his job. We've got to do ours. Those are the games where he doesn't get those wins in the win column."
Kings coach Darryl Sutter has said that a goaltender has to win 40 games in order to win the Vezina. But Sutter said Thursday that Quick's other numbers provide argument for the nod. Quick was second to Brian Elliott of St. Louis in goals-against average.
"If you look at the big picture, he's the only guy that's either first or second to Elliott in three or four [categories] and Elliott's ahead of him in one other one," Sutter said. "Honestly, for Quick, it's too bad [with] St. Louis you can't do a two-for-one. If it was, then it's probably the direction it's going."
"It's a tremendous honor to be put in a category with Hank and Pekke," said Quick, who is 4-1 with a 1.59 GAA in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "They're two great goalies in this League, well-respected goalies … at the same time, though, it's not the trophy that I set out to win. We still have a shot at the other one."
No King has won the Vezina. Rogie Vachon and Gary Edwards were runners-up in 1975.
McDonald an X-factor: Sutter acknowledged that there is an unknown factor with St. Louis in that his team did not see Andy McDonald in the regular season. Also, David Perron and Alexander Steen played only two games against L.A.
Sutter pointed to McDonald and Steen as factors.
"The two 1-0 games [on Feb. 3 and March 22] -- they didn't play either game, so obviously it fortifies the first or second line," Sutter said. "They're able to play [David] Backes, [T.J.] Oshie and McDonald, Steen and [Patrik] Berglund. They're top guys … McDonald is probably real similar to Justin Williams. Both guys won the Cup … it's a pretty good matchup."
Sutter still prefers home: Sutter is a stickler for routine and scheduling, and he spent the past two days talking about when his team might travel to St. Louis.
He pointed out that that is a product of not having home-ice advantage, and he didn't read much into the success that road teams are having in the postseason.
The Kings won three games in Vancouver and are on a franchise-record five-game road playoff winning streak. But don't tell that to Sutter.
"As you go along, that's all [meaningless]," Sutter said. "I know from the experience of it. The less travel you have, you want to be in your own building. It still [makes] a big difference. It's very simple. I'd rather be having players getting treated in our treatment centers and not in a hotel and not on an airplane, and getting practice in your own building."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Judging by how most observers project the Western Conference Semifinals between the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues to unfold, they might as well go straight to overtime.
The similarities are a big talking point leading up to the start of the series: two low-scoring teams that are designed by defense and goaltending to grind opponents down.
"Mirror image," Kings forward Dustin Penner said. "What were we, one and two in goals against [average] this year? The games are always close -- low-scoring, big forwards, tough team, great goaltending. For both teams you don't know who you're talking about."
Yes, St. Louis was first in the League with 1.89 GAA in the regular season to L.A.'s 2.07. The Kings won three of four regular season meetings, but the teams split the final two games, each by 1-0 scores.
Brian Elliott had a 0.71 GAA in two appearances against L.A. Jonathan Quick had a 0.33 GAA with 94 saves on 95 shots against the Blues. The Kings enter the series on a scoreless stretch of 130 minutes, 49 seconds against St. Louis, while the Blues have gone 96:22 without scoring against L.A.
L.A. regards St. Louis as a much more physical, hard-nosed team. The teams combined for 86 hits in the March 22 game, a 1-0 shootout win by Los Angeles.
"They all play a heavy game and they all forecheck and hit and they're all hard on you," Kings forward Trevor Lewis said. "I think we've got to bring that to our game and push them back."
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said that the teams are similar statistically, but he again brought out the underdog card when asked if the Blues were a mirror image of the Kings.
"We didn't have as many wins as they did," Sutter said. "They won 30 games at home."
The Kings' quarterfinal victory against top-seeded Vancouver threw all conventional thinking out the window. So did the elimination of typical Western powers the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.
L.A. was also the team that pulled out two shorthanded goals in one game against Vancouver and outscored it, 7-5, overall in even-strength play.
"Everybody's asking me about how low-scoring it's going to be," Quick said. "But I think I'm sure if you looked back at postseason history and teams that matched up like this, I'm sure there's been quite a few games that have gone the other way, and games that people didn't really expect, 3-4, 4-5 games. When you get out there you can expect anything. You got to be ready for anything. It's all about who comes and competes the hardest."
That's a significant change for a Sutter team that has used the same lines since the acquisition of Jeff Carter in February.
"We got to continue to move around," Sutter said. "We're lucky we've got guys that can play everywhere, so it's not like our left wing hasn't excelled five-on-five. We're trying to find stuff that works."
Kyle Clifford skated at the end of practice, an encouraging sign for the fourth-line winger who is trying to recover from a probable concussion.
Lewis a hero, too: While Stoll joined Adam Deadmarsh and Mike Krushelnyski as players to score series-clinching overtime goals in Kings history, Lewis made the play happen when he got the puck away from Dan Hamhuis.
A typical Sutter third-line grinder, Lewis has become a valuable role player and even contributed a goal in the Vancouver series. He said he received some attention after his play.
"I had a few more text messages after the game than normal and talked to a lot of people that I hadn't talked to in a while about it, so it was pretty cool," Lewis said.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Sitting around for three days is probably not the ideal routine in a Stanley Cup Playoff series unless a team needs to get healthy.
For Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter, the time is beneficial for healing his ankle and detrimental in that he’s coming off a good game and would have like to get back to playing sooner.
“I would have rather have played every other day,” Carter said Saturday before the Kings left for Vancouver for Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Sunday.
“But it can be good for us, I guess. We got some guys that are a little banged up – bumps and bruises or whatnot – so the extra couple days will definitely help in that way.”
A talking point at the beginning of the series, Carter and linemate Mike Richards each have no points with a minus-3 rating over the past three games.
Carter missed the last five regular season games with a bone bruise in his ankle and returned in time for the start of the series. He said the injury didn’t affect his performance.
“It’s been getting better every game, I think, so it’s not a big issue,” Carter said.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter was typically blunt when asked about what he’s seen from Carter lately.
“I think he’s playing through an injury and I think his last game was his best game,” Sutter said. “What are his strengths? His speed and puck skills. When you’re not playing quite 100 percent it does make a difference.”
Carter had a game-high seven shots on goal and four hits in Game 4. He looked as active and visible as he has in the series, and if he shows his scoring capability he will be the factor that Los Angeles wished for when they acquired him before the trade deadline.
“It was probably the best that I’ve felt in this series,” Carter said. “I was skating and getting on pucks. When you’re doing that, you’re creating chances, so it was a step in the right direction.”
Carter had six goals in 16 regular season games since he came to L.A. in a Feb.23 trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who got Jack Johnson and a first round draft pick in return. Outside of a two-goal game against the Anaheim Ducks on March 3, he really hasn’t had a signature game or goal of real significance.
Carter has also been quiet in recent playoffs. He is on a six-game point-less streak, dating to last postseason with Philadelphia.
Richards was also encouraged by Game 5 and knows what his former Philadelphia teammate is capable of doing.
“I talked to him after [Game 4],” Richards said. “He said he felt good. He’s said he it was the best he felt in a long time. Hopefully we can improve on it and get opportunities and chances and shots. He’s got a good enough a shot where the goalie can make the save once in a while but eventually it’s going to go in.”
Mitchell on Vancouver: Defenseman Willie Mitchell is a knowledgeable source on how to defend the Canucks and he has served as a sort of analyst during the series.
Mitchell played four seasons with Vancouver and against them in the Northwest Division when he was with the Minnesota Wild. He had a detailed take on defending a “new” Canucks team with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
“Everyone has their own way or own belief of how you play them,” Mitchell said. “Personally, I think you deny them the puck, so that means when other players on their team have the puck, you make sure they don’t get it. So [it’s] meeting them before the puck gets there. If they get the puck, it’s not about eliminating time and space, in my opinion, because if you’re too aggressive against them there’s going to be ice open up in the middle of the ice, and that’s where it always goes.
“They make those blind passes and they just know. Their whole game is about creating 2-on-1s, just bringing the guy into you … so it’s a fine line – being aggressive when they don’t have it, and if they happen to get possession, sometimes you got to sit because they’re not Steven Stamkos. They don’t have that world class shot. But they are world-class playmakers.”
Sutter kept beating the drum that Game 4 was his team’s best game of the series and he reiterated that they’re still the underdog even though they have a 3-1 series lead.
He sounded as if he needed a lot more from his team.
“I liked our five-on-five play [in Game 4] but we’re not going to beat the Vancouver Canucks unless everybody plays to their (level) because of the skill set that they have,” Sutter said. “If we have three or four guys that don’t try to play to their skill set then we’re not going to beat them.”
Clifford remains out:Kyle Clifford (upper body) did not skate for a third consecutive game, which all but rules him out from returning anytime soon.
Clifford was hit by Byron Bitz on Game 1. It is called an upper-body injury but the team is taking the same protocol they would for a concussion.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kyle Clifford did not skate Friday but Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he the forward did not have a setback in his recovery from what is believed to be a concussion he sustained from a hit by Byron Bitz in Game 1.
"It becomes day-to-day," Sutter said. "That's protocol, right? That's what he's allowed to do."
Also, Scott Parse practiced with the team for the first time since he had hip surgery in December. He wore a green no-contact jersey. Asked if he’s ahead of schedule, Parse said, "I'm just happy how I feel. There's no schedule."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Vancouver's inefficient power play was the talk of this first-round playoff series, but the Kings are in a 1 for 15 slump over the past three games. That comes after they went 8-for-17 over the last two regular-season games and Game 1 of this Western Conference Quarterfinal series.
The Kings did have eight shots on goal on its first two power plays of Game 4. It had three total power plays, and that's about what Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter expects.
"We're going to get fewer," Sutter said. "That's obvious, I think. There would have to be something changed for us to get more power plays, so we have to get as many quality chances as you can. I think our power play was better in the last game, but you do have to score on them. One thing that's not going to change in the playoffs is goaltending, special teams and performance of the top players."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Although his team has a 3-1 series lead, Kings coach Darryl Sutter is keeping his underdog mindset.
Sutter said owning three wins in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Canucks is "the only advantage we have right now. If somebody said at the end of the series we beat them three times [then it doesn't matter]. There's five series of the eight that are 3-1. How many of them are cast as an underdog 3-1? That’s what it's about.
"We are the big underdogs. That's based on what they've accomplished."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter faced Vancouver three times in the regular season, but he talked Friday as if he's preparing for a whole new team in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The addition of Daniel Sedin to Vancouver's lineup has changed the look of the series. Henrik Sedin's game is based on finding brother Daniel for scoring opportunities, and Vancouver essentially got two new players back when Daniel returned for Game 4.
"We got to handle the Sedins better," Sutter said. "They're going to play a lot. As a group, we have to handle them better. It's pretty clear how good a players they are, and they have great instincts when they're together.
"It makes such a difference when they're together. It's clear one impacts the other. It makes sense when you look at it. Their whole career and their whole life is pretty much playing together."
Sutter is not a big matchup coach. In Game 4 he used his top three lines against the Sedin-Sedin-David Booth line, with centers Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll taking turns on the ice against them.
"I don't think he minds who plays against them," Stoll said of Sutter. "He doesn't have a hard matchup kind of a mindset. I'm sure whoever is playing well and doing their thing. The key is winning faceoffs against those guys and making them chase the puck to start their shift. And play the game. Make them play in their zone. Make them play hard minutes.
"They're really good players so they should be different. But we got to be different, too. We got to be better."
"He was an Art Ross [Trophy winner] for scoring," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Wouldn't that make a significant change if we could put a player like that back in our lineup? It's going to be significant to theirs, too."
Sedin was expected to join Vancouver for practice Tuesday afternoon and it was not yet known if he would play in Game 4 on Wednesday. He has been out for almost a month since he was concussed by Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Sedin's absence is a large reason why Vancouver is facing a 3-0 series deficit in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Brother Henrik Sedin's game is based a lot on finding Daniel, and Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said that has forced other forwards to play out of their roles.
"It's not easy (to adjust)," Sutter said. "I don't know if you counter it, but you certainly make yourself aware and make sure the players are very aware of it and how much better they are together than apart."
Not only was Daniel Sedin the NHL's leading scorer last season, he has a particularly damaging history against the Kings. He had four goals and six assists in a six-game quarterfinals win against L.A. in 2010 and has 33 points in 40 regular season games against the Kings.
"They're tricky to play against," Rob Scuderi said. "No doubt about it. They put the puck in space so well with each other that you have to respect. We don't want to change anything, but it doesn't change the fact that they are hard to play against."
Scuderi and Willie Mitchell have been outstanding in forcing Vancouver to take shots from the perimeter. The Canucks had 41 shots in Game 3 but goalie Jonathan Quick didn't face much from between the circles or slot.
Scuderi said it's difficult defending both Sedins because they can't take away both at the same time.
"You can't do it because then you'd be cheating on your defensive system," he said. "Most likely, you'd be playing man-to-man. I haven't heard any team that's played straight up man-to-man for a while.
"I think the biggest thing is they play the puck with space, not necessarily to each other. They have an uncanny knack for knowing where each other is going to go, and go in space, and they certainly use it to their advantage. They create a lot of space for themselves."
Richardson cleared:Brad Richardson was cleared to play and skated with the fourth line. Richardson underwent emergency appendectomy surgery last Monday.
"To be honest, I just kind of started (feeling well) the last three or four days," Richardson said. "When I came out I started doing some workouts again and getting on the ice, but for the first three or four days you feel [lousy] because of the anesthesia and you're really sore. As soon as you kind of get over that hump, three or four days, you feel really good. Today I felt the best, and I hope I feel even better tomorrow."
Richardson's return is timely because Kyle Clifford remains out with an upper-body injury. Andrei Loktionov, who filled in for Game 3, took a puck in the foot in the third period of that game and wore a non-contact jersey Tuesday.
Richards knows it can be done:Mike Richards was part of a Philadelphia Flyers team that became the third team in NHL history to erase a 3-0 series deficit, in 2010 against the Boston Bruins.
Naturally, he knows that it's quite possible for Vancouver to pull it off. He wasn't eager to talk about it, though.
"I'm not going to go over that (2010) series," Richards said. "The situation that we're in, we'll take a step forward is something that I think we have to embrace. Even though they're going to come out hard we have to be ready for what they got, but we have to be ready to bring our game, too."
The Canucks actually have a solid history of erasing 3-1 series deficits, having done it in 1992 against the Winnipeg Jets, 1994 against the Calgary Flames and 2003 against the St. Louis Blues. This is the first time in Kings history they've had a 3-0 lead.
Pressed again how much he appreciates that it's possible, Richards said, "I have to appreciate the position that we're in right now, and not the position they're in."
Leading scorer Daniel Sedin will join the team for a full practice Tuesday, the team announced. Sedin hasn't played since he sustained a concussion after being elbowed in the head by Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks on March 21.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said Monday that he did not know if Sedin will be available for Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against Los Angeles on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC). Vancouver is down 3-0 in the series.
"That won't be my decision," Vigneault said. "That's a medical decision. He's been skating now for a quite a few days. They feel that he's progressed real well and he's cleared to practice with the team. We'll have a better indication here in the next couple days."
Vancouver sorely misses Sedin, the NHL's leading scorer last season. It has scored four goals in three losses against L.A. and gone 0-for-14 on the power play. Vigneault is using Jannik Hansen in Sedin's place beside brother Henrik Sedin, but the offense hasn't materialized.
Daniel Sedin was thought to be returning for the start of the series. He skated with the team last week, but was believed to have had a setback. Vigneault wasn't certain Sedin would be available but acknowledged what it would mean.
"Obviously in the situation that we're faced with, for him to be back in our lineup would be a big boost," Vigneault said. "But we don't know so we'll see how it goes in the next little while here."
Vancouver players were upbeat at the news on a sunny off-day at their swanky hotel.
"If he happens to play and he's in the lineup, I assume that he's going to be relied on," Keith Ballard said. "He's going to be put in situations. He's probably going to play a good amount. We will rely on him if he's in the lineup."
Goalie Cory Schneider got a first-hand look at how his team has struggled in a 1-0 loss in Game 3 Sunday.
"Goals are hard to come by," Schneider said. "Getting a 30-goal guy and last year's Art Ross [Trophy] winner definitely couldn't hurt. We're still feeling good. We're not relying on a savior to come in and help us. But to get a player that caliber back would be a big boost for us."
Vigneault did not say whether Schneider would return in net for Game 4.
The announcement came fater the Kings morning skate on Sunday.
The Kings said it won’t matter much given that both goalies are fully capable. It likely makes for some more video preparation because Schneider has never played against L.A.
“Now that people are talking about him possibly going in, I’m sure we’ll watch some (film),” Drew Doughty said. “But … any goalie in this League is pretty similar. If you’re not getting traffic in front of him, if he’s seeing every shot on net, he’s going to see it. It’s pretty much the same mindset whether Schneider’s in or Luongo’s in.”
Schneider had the NHL’s second-best save percentage in the regular season (.937). But Luongo hasn’t done much to warrant getting pulled, a sentiment shared by at least one Kings player.
“That would be surprising to me [if they changed goalies],” Willie Mitchell said. “It would be really surprising. To be honest with you, I thought [Luongo’s] been their best player over the first two games of the series.”
While his teammates danced around the inevitable question about whether Game 3 on Sunday night is a make-or-break game, Ryan Kesler spoke his mind.
“Obviously it’s a must-win game,” Kesler said. “You don’t want to go down, 3-0. We’re going to take it shift by shift tonight and I think improvement on special teams and continuing our improving our five-on-five play.”
As far as special teams, vancouver cOach Alain Vigneault may have had the line of the day when discUssing what he’d like to see differently from his special teams.
“Score a goal and not give up a goal,” he said.
The essence of the series so far is that Vancouver has gone 0-for-10 on the power play and allowed two shorthanded goals and three power-play goals. The Canucks have made tweaks such as moving Chris Higgins from the second power-play unit to the first and replacing Alex Edler with Dan Hamhuis on the first unit.
“There’s obviously a couple of adjustments we need to make here – nothing that we haven’t seen all year,” Vigneault said. “Give them a lot of credit. They’re putting a lot of pressure on us. They’re taking away our space and time. It’s just a matter of us executing better. We’ve done it at key moments this year, we just haven’t done it so far in this series."
Not only is Edler struggling on the power play, but he has had difficulties in all facets of the first two games, serving up giveaways in Games 1 and 2, including two egregious ones that led to goals. Asked if he gives a sort of pep talk to Edler, Vigneault said, “I think all our players right now are [struggling].
“You look at … [L.A. forwards Anze] Kopitar and [Dustin] Brown and take any one of our top forwards right now. Obviously their guys right now are playing a little bit better than ours. It’s a fine line between a win and a loss and whether it’d be Alex Edler or any one of our other players, everybody needs to know that it’s one game. We don’t need to worry about winning four games here. We need to focus on winning one game.”
Vigneault said he was satisfied with Roberto Luongo's performance in Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, but he wants to change it up for Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings.
"Two great goaltenders -- I've used both of them all year long," Vigneault said. "Obviously being down, 2-0, the way we are right now is not a reflection of the goaltending that we've had so far; but it's time to change the momentum a little bit and this is one of the cards we might have."
Luongo has done a tremendous job handling the puck against the Kings' aggressive forecheck. Schneider is not regarded as good a puck handler, but his teammates reiterated it is about trying to reverse their fortunes.
"I think both goalies have done everything we've asked them to do this year," star forward Henrik Sedin said. "Goaltending is not the problem in this series. We're trying to do something new tonight."
Said forward Ryan Kesler, "Lu's played extremely well for us. Being down, 2-0, coach thought he needed to make a change. Obviously Cory would be a starter on any other team, so the apple doesn't fall far from the tree on that one."
Schneider, 26, may be the No.2 goaltender in Vancouver, but he was also the second-best goaltender in the entire NHL when it came to save percentage during the regular season, posting a .937 that trailed only Brian Elliott in St. Louis. And Schneider's 1.96 goals-against average was third in the League, just .01 behind the Kings starter and Vezina Trophy candidate Jonathan Quick.
The only thing missing on Schneider's short NHL resume is extensive playoff success.
He did get a surprise – many would say shocking – start in the first round this past season against the rival Blackhawks, playing Game 6 in a hostile Chicago environment after the Canucks blew a 3-0 series lead. But the rookie turned two puck-handling gaffes into goals, and was forced to leave early after cramping up badly while getting beat on a penalty shot that tied the game.
Luongo went back in for Game 7, backstopped a 2-1 overtime victory and led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final before struggling in Boston, getting pulled in two of three road games.
Perhaps because of that, the Canucks made sure to get Schneider more and tougher starts this season, including a big Cup rematch victory in Boston and another tough win in Chicago. And they were careful to keep the sophomore stopper fresh down the stretch, splitting time with -- and for the most part out-playing -- Luongo during the final six weeks of the regular season.
--Correspondent Kevin Woodley contributed to this report
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – No Los Angeles Kings player was alive the last time the Kings had a 2-0 series lead. Los Angeles was in its first year of existence when it won the first two games against the Minnesota North Stars in 1968.
"The Kings team that was up, 2-0, lost in seven games," captain Dustin Brown said.
Brown didn't thumb through a media guide. Someone told him how long it had been, and for good reason. The Kings are in uncharted territory with a 2-0 lead on the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, with the series shifting to Staples Center for Games 3 and 4.
The Kings are on letdown alert given their underwhelming postseason history. L.A. lost all three home games against San Jose in last season's quarterfinals and two of three against Vancouver in 2010.
"Historically, for this team in recent playoffs, we haven't played well at home," Brown said. "It's important to draw attention to that. We've done a good job getting two wins, but there's a lot of areas we can get better at and it's really important to take advantage of home ice."
The Kings were up, 2-1, on Vancouver in the 2010 quarterfinals and lost the next four games. Can they draw on that experience?
"What we've learned is when you're up, they're going to be a desperate hockey club," Anze Kopitar said. "We have to make sure we don't give them any life. As soon as there's a chance to finish them off, we have to finish them off. We didn't do that two years ago, but I think everybody's learned from that."
Five-on-five needs improvement: Despite the 2-0 lead, the Kings are not grading themselves well outside of special teams. They've scored three power play goals, two shorthanded and gone 10-for-10 on the penalty kill.
But there is a general feeling that Vancouver has been at least even and perhaps better in 5-on-5 play.
"We're up, 2-0, but we feel fortunate in a lot of ways to be up, 2-0," Jarret Stoll said.
Kopitar and Mike Richards pointed to committing too many turnovers and relying too much on Jonathan Quick, who made 46 saves in Game 2.
"We didn't spend a lot of time with the puck in five-on-five [Friday] night just because we turned too many pucks over and I thought we were chasing the game a little bit," Richards said.
Said Kopitar: "We've been shorthanded for close to 19 minutes in two games. That's too much. The penalties that we're taking are sometimes not the best penalties – holding and tripping. Those are the ones we have to avoid."
"It sort of overrides everything we've talked about," Sutter said. "We haven't had our foot on the gas the whole way. We have a number of guys that have experience with long playoffs or a lot of games played that can play a hell of a lot better."
Richardson skating, Clifford out:Brad Richardson resumed skating for the first time since he had an emergency appendectomy Monday night.
Richardson said his mother, Jan, a longtime nurse, diagnosed it after Richardson had pain Sunday. Richardson did not know when he would be cleared to play. He'll see a doctor on Monday.
"I was lucky I was there at the right time," Richardson said. "I feel a lot better than I was. I was on the ice a little bit today and I felt okay. It's still pretty sore, but I think that's the way it is."
Kyle Clifford (upper body) did not skate and Sutter did not have an update.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter all but pronounced himself ready to play in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against Vancouver on Wednesday.
Carter is recovering from a bone bruise in his right foot. He has taken turns skating with usual linemate Mike Richards the past two days.
"It felt better today," Carter said. "I think it takes a little bit to kind of warm up, but once I get going it's doing pretty good."
In a bit of playoff posturing, L.A. coach Darryl Sutter was coy Monday and said Carter has "a ways to go," but Carter said Tuesday he doesn't think he has to sell Sutter on returning.
"It doesn't seem like it," Carter said. "I feel like I'm getting better and I feel like I can contribute."
Carter had said last week he expected to be ready for the postseason.
Sutter joked about the secretive nature of injury updates from teams at this time of year. Told that Daniel Sedin of Vancouver didn't skate Tuesday, Sutter said, "Well, them guys are playing games with us, right? We shouldn't have had Carter practice and I could say, 'He's not traveling.'"
Sutter is preparing for a Vancouver team with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
"Absolutely," he said. "Sedin, Sedin, [Alexandre] Burrows."
Kopitar and Williams healthy: This was not the best time of year last season for Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. Kopitar had a season-ending leg injury March 27 and Williams dislocated his shoulder March 21.
Williams opted to rehabilitate it rather than have surgery, and he came back for the opening round wearing a protective harness.
In contrast, Kopitar and Williams have been two of the Kings' most productive forwards late this season. Kopitar had eight goals and 17 assists in his final 20 games. Williams had only 10 goals in his first 51 games, but 10 goals and nine assists over his final 21 games.
"Later in the season, you're more comfortable, you're in better shape," Williams said. "Especially playing all the games this year -- that was extremely helpful not having a break, being able to continue to get better and I think your speed picks up.
"When you're able to play all the games and you're able to try and get better every time, it's certainly a lot easier, whereas if you have an injury, you got to come back and you're constantly fighting ups and downs."
Kopitar watched last season's quarterfinal loss from the press box and didn't spend much time around the team. It's been two years since he last played a playoff game.
"It's just as exciting," Kopitar said. "I've been ready for it."
Dustin Brown's line with Kopitar and Williams is expected to be back together, and it has been by far the Kings' best lately.
"We just found our stride and caught fire at the right time," Kopitar said. "Mid-March and all the way through it was a must-win for us every game, so that's probably a good thing going into the playoffs right now because a seven-game series can be over pretty quick."
Sutter on pre-game anthems: Sutter was asked if he will get nervous behind the bench during the national anthems before Game 1, and he referenced the singers at Staples Center that are known for their long renditions.
"They sing both them songs, so they're both good," Sutter said. "You get an extra minute-and-a-half. The only difference in Los Angeles is sometimes when they sing the song, they take three-and-a-half minutes."
Richardson had symptoms "the last couple of days" and had the procedure done Monday night, according to Sutter.
Sutter had no idea how long Richardson will be out, but Richardson is expected to at least miss Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Wednesday in Vancouver.
Sutter said he underwent the same procedure four or five years ago when he was with the Calgary Flames.
"Better to have it out than have it ruptured, because it's not about hockey," Sutter said. "The procedures they have now -- you're resuming activity within a couple of days. You know what? We won't have him for a while."
Richardson was inserted on the top line when Jeff Carter had a bone bruise. Richardson had two goals against Minnesota on March 31 and an assist against Edmonton on April 2 in Carter's absence.
"We played without Carter," Sutter said. "We've been short, so we know [what it's like]."
The Kings have recalled center Andrei Loktionov from Manchester of the American Hockey League.
Beauchemin said the issue got worse from the beginning of the season and he wasn't able to be as physical toward the end. The recovery will take about three to four months.
"It's been bothering me for a few weeks," Beauchemin said on Anaheim's day of exit meetings.
"A few months, actually … I'll take care of it now and then. I've got all summer to get it better, rehab it and everything."
Beauchemin was perhaps the team's best defenseman for much of the season and excelled after he signed a three-year contract extension Jan. 20.
Selanne's decision:Teemu Selanne had no update on his impending decision to retire or return for a 20th season.
Selanne has said he will inform general manager Bob Murray his decision by July 1, his 42nd birthday. Selanne has typically delayed that decision until at least August although that happened last year because of knee surgery.
That’s not an issue this time around.
"I'm really thankful that the knee is holding up so well and I had no real issue," Selanne said.
Selanne said coach Bruce Boudreau didn't try to persuade him into returning.
"We had a good meeting," he said. "Obviously he's going to respect my decision either way. He said he's really open arms welcoming back if I want to come back. That’s really good news."
Selanne and Saku Koivu both said they are undecided about playing for Finland in the World Championship.
Visnovsky OK:Lubomir Visnovsky said he's OK from a hit he took last Thursday in Edmonton in which he was upended and banged his head.
"I had the test (for) concussion symptoms and I was OK," he said. "I'll be OK."
Visnovsky said he was quite disappointed with his season, so much so that he contemplated retirement.
"I was very mad in the season because I don't feel comfortable," he said. "I think it was (my) worst season ever for me. My confidence was very low."
Visnovsky said he is "retired" from the Slovakian national team and won't play in the worlds. The tournament was held in Slovakia last year and Visnovsky wanted to end it there.
"That was my world championships," he said.
Ducks headed to the Worlds:Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry confirmed they will play for Canada in next month's World Championship. Bobby Ryan said he will suit up for the U.S. and indicated that Cam Fowler and Nick Bonino will join him.
Voynov scored the game-winning goal Monday against Edmonton.
Carter out:Jeff Carter skated on his own for about 20 minutes but he is unlikely to play in the final two games.
Carter is recovering from a bone bruise in his ankle and Sutter said he won't play until he has a full practice with the team.
Carter didn't think that would happen Friday, either.
"I'm not sure," Carter said. "I would doubt it. I think I'll probably get back out there and do a little more and see how it responds. We'll see how it feels tonight when I get to the game after skating. It could seize up again. It's kind of a wait-and-see thing."
Carter said he would be ready for the opener of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, assuming L.A. makes it.
"I really don't think that’s an issue," he said. "I should be good to go."
Murray doubtful: San Jose coach Todd McLellan said that even if defenseman Douglas Murray is healthy, he would stick with his current defensive lineup, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Murray has missed three games with a lower-body injury.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif -- Kings defenseman Davis Drewiske came off the ice with the regulars and coach Darryl Sutter indicated he will play him at some point down the stretch "because at some point we're going to need him."
Drewiske last played Feb. 21. He has two goals in nine games this season.
Here's the rest of the lineup the Kings likely will use Monday against the Edmonton Oilers:
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Jeff Carter's from the Kings' lineup has opened a spot for Brad Richardson, who became the odd-man out when L.A. acquired Carter on Feb. 25.
Richardson subsequently was scratched in all but two of the first 16 games following the trade and admitted it didn't sit well with him.
"At times it's not easy," Richardson said. "You always want to be in there. It's a thing you learn as you get older. You got to stay positive. You have to be a good teammate. You don't want the other teammates to see that.
"Even though you're [angry] at not playing, you still have to show up at the rink and have a positive attitude. But it's never easy. There are times where I was [angry] and I did want to be in there, but when you come back you try to be that much better."
So far, Richardson has taken advantage of his playing time. Sutter put him on the top line Saturday and Richardson scored twice, his first points since Jan. 12 and his first goals since Dec. 31.
"We talked to Brad," Sutter said. "He wasn't very happy [sitting out]. I don't blame him. You're not playing, you better not be happy. You better work your butt off in practice. If the coaches tell you that we want you to start preparing to play, then you have to go through that. You have to do that to reinforce it in your mind."
Richardson has played on every line since he came to L.A. Last season he had a prominent role playing with Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford, as the trio was the club's most effective line against San Jose in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Sutter still wants more out of Richardson and said that, “OK is not OK."
Sutter didn't have any reservations putting Richardson in a top-line role, but said Richardson has to produce there.
"We're at the time of the year where those kids with that same skill set are playing every other night in (American Hockey League affiliate) Manchester," said Sutter.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- An MRI exam on Jeff Carter's ankle revealed the Los Angeles Kings forward has a deep bone bruise and no structural damage, the team announced Monday.
Carter is considered day-to-day but is not expected to play when the Kings host the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. The Kings have two days off the Oilers game and finish the regular season with a critical home-and-home series against San Jose.
Carter caught his toe along the boards in Calgary on March 28 and twisted his ankle. He was seen on crutches with a walking boot.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter did not yet know the results of the MRI after the morning skate but said that the severity of Carter’s injury wasn’t too much of a concern.
"It really doesn't have any impact other than we miss him in the lineup," Sutter said. "What the results are doesn't really matter. He's getting better. We're not going to amputate, I don't think."
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks will embrace the spoiler role as they can affect the race with remaining games against San Jose, Phoenix, Vancouver and Calgary. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau is using that to light a fire.
"We know it's definitely not a good-looking situation as far as continuing playing too much in April, but we're playing at home, we've got a chance to derail a little bit of San Jose's opportunities, so we'd love to be able to do that," Boudreau said. "It's motivation for us."
Said Teemu Selanne, "We still have to do our job. Obviously, every team that wants to make the playoffs has to earn it. That's how it goes."
Boudreau said he has an obligation to field his best lineup, although he said Jonas Hiller won't play all six remaining games. Anaheim re-assigned young winger Kyle Palmieri so he can help the Syracuse Crunch secure a playoff berth. Another prospect, Emerson Etem, the WHL's first 60-goal scorer since 2000-01, is helping Medicine Hat in the quarterfinals and there is not an urgency to recall him before the season ends.
As far as his approach down the stretch, Boudreau acknowledged that, "This is new territory for me, quite frankly. I've never been out of it at this stage. But as far as development goes, we won't change the way we play. We might put guys in different situations that they haven't been in before, maybe do a little experimentation in that regard."
Ellis closer: Dan Ellis has been practicing with Anaheim for a few days in his comeback from sports hernia surgery on March 2.
"I've always looked at that last week of the regular season in order to make it back," Ellis said. "I think, given our schedule, this week we've only got two games so it gives you a few practice opportunities -- some time to really push it and see where your body is at. I think I can push it as hard as possible and see where I am at the end of the week."
It would be a personal achievement for Ellis to return. He suffered a tear in his groin in practice on Jan. 7, a freak injury in which he said "the groin comes completely off the bone and you get an ab tear with it."
Ellis has appeared in only 10 games this season and won once.
"It would be nice to finish the season on a good note," he said. "The season didn't quite go the way I would have planned it. But you take it as a challenge to push through. You set some goals for yourself, and you always want to end on a good note."
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- If the San Jose Sharks didn't have motivation already, there is a lingering subplot to Wednesday's game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Anaheim dealt San Jose a big blow with a 5-3 victory at HP Pavilion on March 19. That gave the Ducks four wins in five meetings this season.
"I remember the feeling afterward and obviously we were not very thrilled with our performance and some of the things that happened throughout that game," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "It's pretty fresh in our minds. But again, it's a new day, a new game and we've got to bring a better effort."
Said San Jose coach Todd McLellan, "It's fresh enough (in our minds), and we're 1-4 against this team. That's really hurt our opportunity to be a successful team this year, is just our record against Anaheim alone. That's not any disrespect to them.
"We've talked to our guys about not letting their guard down. This is a team that's had our number, that's played better than we have and deserved to win the games, and something we're going to have to try and correct it tonight."
Galiardi to return: TJ Galiardi is expected to return after he missed six games with an upper-body injury.
"I believe he's healthy and there's a good chance he can play," McLellan said.
Galiardi went a step further and said he will play with Dominic Moore and Torrey Mitchell. He said their role is to be solid defensively and generate a cycle at the other end.
"We're all pretty good at controlling the puck down there," Galiardi said. "We're not going to score too many highlight reel goals. It's just going to be greasy ones."
After Penner scored for the second straight game Tuesday, Sutter said, "He looked like Mark Messier."
"I heard that," Penner said with a slight smile.
After a rocky start to the season in which Penner endured knee, hand and back injuries and was a healthy scratch as recently as Feb. 22, things have looked up for the former 30-goal scorer.
Penner said he's been getting chances for a while, and now some results are tangible. He had 3 goals in his first 38 games and 4 over his next 18 going into Wednesday's game against St. Louis.
"Inertia's a powerful thing," Penner said. "Hopefully more goals will gravitate towards me."
The goal have come, ironically, after Sutter put Penner in a defensive third-line role playing with Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis.
"It's basically Penner's chance to do something or not to play anymore," Sutter said. "That's the way you get in. He's been a healthy scratch to playing on the third line."
Penner said it helps that his line has developed an identity. Whatever offense he brings is a bonus.
"I think we've been playing well as a line for quite a few games now," Penner said. "I think as a third line, we've been really sound defensively. I'm playing with two guys who (have done that) a lot … Stolie, especially, since I've been here. He's got great speed, he's a workhorse. He's great on both sides of the puck. We all bring different elements to the line that have combined for a pretty good third line."
No changes: Sutter has cited identity as a reason for L.A.'s uptick, so it's no surprise there aren't any lineup changes against the League-leading Blues.
Since they acquired Jeff Carter on Feb. 25, the Kings are the highest scoring team in the Western Conference at 3.5 goals per game. League-wide, only Pittsburgh has more with 4.25 per game.
"They're playing a lot of minutes in comparison to other team's fourth line and they're playing against other teams' top lines," Penner said. "While they're out there, our top guys are getting a rest. It's maybe a small gain at that time, but it accumulates and that's why you see at the end of the game or end of second beginning of the third, they start taking over."
Elliott against Quick:Brian Elliott is expected to start for St. Louis after Jaroslav Halak suffered a loss to Anaheim on Wednesday night.
Neither has a track record of success. Elliott is 0-3 with a 3.64 goals-against average lifetime against Los Angeles, while Quick is 2-8-1 with a 2.69 GAA against the Blues.
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is all too familiar with Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, who beat Boudreau's Washington team in the first round of the 2010 playoffs when Halak was in Montreal.
Asked if he has seen a better performance than that, Boudreau playfully replied, "Nope, and I’m still pissed at him for that.
"He got in that zone and he was incredible. Even the last game in St. Louis, I thought he was incredible. His leg save on (Saku) Koivu in the first period -- he kept it 0-0 -- had our guys shaking their heads."
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman will be a game-time decision because of an upper-body injury that has kept him out of the past two games, said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau.
Lydman fought through the end of last season with a shoulder injury that needed surgery. He said, "I wasn't feeling that great" from the surgery at the beginning of the season, and now it appears he will have to work through an injury again to finish this season.
"Everything kind of piles up during the year," Lydman said. "I want it to be a little better. It's nothing new."
If Lydman can't play, Nate Guenin likely will take his spot.
Boudreau said there was a "good chance" that veterans Jason Blake and Niklas Hagman will return to the lineup. He scratched both Monday, citing their fatigue in back-to-back games this season.
At the morning skate Blake, 38, played on a line with Saku Koivu, 37, and 41-year-old Teemu Selanne, in perhaps the oldest line in the NHL.
It's a vote of confidence from Boudreau to give Smith-Pelly, 19, a look there after he has played mostly on the third line since being returning from an injury suffered at the 2012 World Junior Championship in December. It's also an adjustment playing the left side given that Smith-Pelly played right wing his whole junior career.
"I felt Bruce has been pretty confident in me since I came over," Smith-Pelly said. "My role is slowly increasing and I'm happy about it. I think I've been playing pretty well since I came back from injury. I'm just happy the coaching staff has confidence in me."
Here's the rest of the lineup the Ducks likely will use Wednesday:
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A healthy and rested St. Louis Blues team probably is not what the Anaheim Ducks want to face, but that's exactly what they’ll get Wednesday.
Jason Arnott will return from an undisclosed injury. David Backes did not skate Wednesday but appears to be fine after he took a shot in the foot last Saturday. Defenseman Kris Russell (concussion) did not skate Wednesday but coach Ken Hitchcock said he is getting closer.
This is a precarious time for Hitchcock, who must balance keeping his foot on the gas pedal while allowing his players to get some rest. He's opting for the former.
"I've said this before: Whatever you are in March … if you think you can dial it up in April when it counts, you're wrong, because you got holes in March and you got holes in April," Hitchcock said.
"I think we're a little bit afraid that if we stop this cycle, can we get it started again? … We've played good defensive hockey all year by managing the game, managing the puck properly. I think we've gotten away from managing the puck properly and played too much east-west, and that's hurt us. I think the last couple of games we got back playing the right way and it's really helped our game again. That's our focus: Just playing the game the right way."
Here's the lineup the Blues likely will put on the ice Wednesday:
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Simon Gagne has been skating after practice for weeks now, but there remains no update on his status and the window is getting smaller for him to return from a concussion suffered Dec. 26 against Phoenix.
"Our goal is to play a game at the end of the season, but right now time's starting to get away a little bit," Gagne said. "Those types of injuries, sometimes you try to put a time frame on it but you cannot control that. You have to go day-by-day and see how it goes. I'm working with the doctors. As a player, you're always looking at it. On the other side, it's maybe not smart doing that."
Gagne is believed to have suffered three concussions in five months during the 2007-08 season. He says he has talked to players who also have suffered concussions, such as former Philadelphia teammate Keith Primeau, but added that every case is different.
"I know that I have to trust the doctors and be honest with myself," he said. "It's something that maybe I did not really do four years ago when I had it. I was doing pretty much the same thing and coming back and playing and it was not good."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- One of the mandates coach Darryl Sutter brought with him when he took over as coach of the Los Angeles Kings was to improve the club's home record, and he's largely done so with an 11-4-3 record at Staples Center.
What was the key?
"Get an identity," Sutter said. "Top teams have strong identities at home. In the big picture, if you're just over .500 on the road, you're a good team. But at home you better be a 70- to 80-percent deal."
A difference maker is the improved play of the top line, notably Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar. Brown has 15 points in his past 11 games and Kopitar has 11 points in his past 10 games.
"You have leaders now," Sutter said. "Every day, every game. They're not just offensive princesses. They have to be 200-foot leaders … (in) practice, off ice, on ice. They have to do that for our team to be productive. That's a responsibility they want and a responsibility they need."
He watched his favorite movie, "The Shawshank Redemption," for about the 18th time. But of course he tuned into to see the San Jose Sharks blow a golden opportunity to move to third in the Western Conference when they lost to the Anaheim Ducks at home.
Sutter and his players expect a motivated Sharks squad at Staples Center on Tuesday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) in another big Pacific Division matchup.
"We should all be motivated," Sutter said. He then said of San Jose, "They're used to being a dominant home-ice team. I'm sure with their start last night that's how they were going to be. They were getting lots of chances early, then they probably loosed up a little."
Tuesday marks the first of three games between San Jose and Los Angeles over the final 10. The teams play a home-and-home series to end the regular season.
If San Jose is at its grumpiest Tuesday, the Kings won't be surprised.
"I wouldn't expect anything less," Jeff Carter said. "Obviously you look at the standings and it's a pretty big game for both of us. We don't expect anything short of their best effort, so we've got to be ready."
At the beginning of the season most observers pegged the Kings and Sharks to be in the top eight at this point of the season. While both are on the outside looking in going into Tuesday's game, the winner would climb back into the top eight in the West.
"For whatever reason, teams have their ups and downs," Carter said. "It's how you kind of respond to it. I think our team has been playing some good hockey and putting some wins together and given ourselves a pretty good shot here."
ANAHEIM, Calif. --Corey Perry is moving closer to a return, but signs indicate that the reigning Hart Trophy winner might miss another game.
Perry took part in all of Anaheim's morning skate, but was last in line during the drills and appeared to be slightly holding back. Perry is recovering from a sore shoulder from a hit by Stephane Robidas of Dallas. He said he is a game-time decision against rival Los Angeles.
Friday is the first of three games in four nights for Anaheim, and it would be reasonable for the club to be cautious in bringing Perry back.
"It's a tough decision," Perry said. "You don't like sitting out, but you also don't know how it's going to feel taking a check, and the possibility of playing three in four -- it's a lot of hockey and a lot of banging. It's playoff hockey and it's going to be tough out there, but we'll see how it is."
"They're starting to skate and practice," Boudreau said. "But it looks sooner than later. It's not another week, as far I know. It looks like before the San Jose game (on Monday) they'll play."
That the Ducks are facing slim odds at a postseason berth provides justification for more rest. Also, Kyle Palmieri scored two goals in place of Perry on Wednesday.
"It's really a double-edged sword," Boudreau said of Palmieri, who led the AHL with 32 goals at the time of his recall.
"We'd love to see him here to take a good look at him. At the same time, he's fighting with a team all year that's two points out of a playoff race there and he's arguably their best player. He's the best scorer in that league. You've got to weigh one versus the other.
"You've got to think about Anaheim first, but at the same time, do we know him well enough to know where we slot him in next year? If he keeps doing what he did the last game, he's not going nowhere."
This is unusual territory for Perry, whose streak of 272 consecutive games played ended Monday.
"It's tough," he said. "It's been a long time since I've missed a game -- especially in the dogfight we're in trying to catch up and try to make a push for the playoffs in the last 11 games. It's definitely not fun watching, riding the bike and watching it on TV. It isn't what you really enjoy doing."
Sbisa said he's progressing but also said he's a game-time decision.
"I don't want to say I'll be in 100 percent," Sbisa said. "If you want to play, you got to be 100 percent. You can’t make a selfish decision and just go out there for two or three shifts and realize it's not good enough for a game, right? But it still felt pretty good."
Perry on Stamkos: Perry, the NHL's only 50-goal scorer last season, wasn't the least surprised that Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay already reached the mark.
"Not the way he scores goals," Perry said. "He puts the puck in the net with the best of him. He's got a (great) shot. He's got skill and he's got speed, so he uses all of those to his advantage. Fifty is tough and 60 would be a tremendous feat. There's not too many guys that can do that."
Boudreau on Sutter: Boudreau played with Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter on the 1978-79 New Brunswick Hawks of the AHL and briefly with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1980s.
"He had a great wrist shot for his time," Boudreau said. "He was a skinny young guy and he actually played in Japan and nobody knew him other than the fact his last name was Sutter, but at that time only Brian was playing.
"He took no crap from anybody. He wasn't a fighter, but at the same time, stood up for himself all the time. To me, he was a great teammate. He'd do anything he had to do for the team to win, and that's how he continued doing what's he doing as a coach."
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk continued to skate and strengthen his surgically repaired knee on Wednesday and said it felt "outstanding." He could return Saturday when the Wings play the San Jose Sharks.
"Two more days," he said. "We'll see … every day (it's) better, better. But it's hard to say."
While Datsyuk improves, defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom will miss an eighth straight game because of a bone bruise in his ankle. It is the most consecutive games Lidstrom has missed during a 20-year career.
"It's quite an amazing accomplishment,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "I worry more about the fact that (Detroit) lost last night. Good teams very rarely put two bad games together in a row, and they're a really good team, so I expect them to be a lot better with or without him."
"I feel like it's pretty strong right now," Bertuzzi said. "I just have to get my timing back and all that. But as far as the groin, it feels a lot better than what it was."
As a spectator, Bertuzzi said at least one aspect of the team's has stood out when he's watched his teammates.
"We haven't put the puck in enough and we've made some uncharacteristic mistakes and it has cost us goals," he said. "I think back to basics -- taking care of our zone first and when we get some chances, bury them."
Here's the rest of the lineup the Red Wings likely will use tonight:
Sbisa suffered back spasms before Monday's game and had to sit out, the first game this season he's missed. He took part in a very optional morning skate for the Ducks and appears to be closer to returning for Wednesday's game.
Perry left the ice early and might miss a second straight game with a sore shoulder, the result of a hit by Stephane Robidas of Dallas last Saturday. His streak of 272 consecutive games played ended Monday.
"They're both being worked on," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's a proverbial game-time decision."
Boudreau said Nick Bonino is ready to play after he suffered a lower-body injury. Ryan O'Marra was re-assigned to Syracuse.
LOS ANGELES -- The Detroit Red Wings will get one of their walking wounded back in the lineup on Tuesday night.
Goalie Jimmy Howard is expected to return in net when Detroit plays at Los Angeles.
Howard has missed three games with a groin injury suffered on March 4. Joey MacDonald went 1-2 in his absence, including a 4-3 win against Los Angeles last Friday.
"Joe has been great when he's been in the net, but of course we want Howie back," Johan Franzen said.
Todd Bertuzzi has a sore groin and is expected to return Wednesday at Anaheim. Pavel Datsyuk also skated Tuesday but remains day-to-day in his recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery on Feb.21.
"We're going to see Pavel on this trip," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "When he's ready, he'll let us know."
Lidstrom update:Nicklas Lidstrom reported little progress in his recovery from a bone bruise in his ankle, and Babcock said he probably won't play on this road trip.
Lidstrom skated on his own again, but is able to only do laps with no abrupt starts and stops.
"I still have pain in the ankle, so it's not good stopping or turning or doing any quick starts and stops," Lidstrom said. "I just want to be out there and kind of get a feel of getting the groins going and kind of doing some laps and being on the ice again."
Lidstrom couldn't put a timetable on a possible return.
"I didn't think it was going to take this long," he said. "It's been somewhat frustrating I haven't been able to come back earlier, but the trainers want me to make sure I don't re-aggravate it again and be out for another couple of weeks."
Remarkably, Lidstrom has never missed this many consecutive games (seven) in his 20-year career, according to the Detroit Free Press.
"(The accomplishment) feels good but it's still frustrating when you're not able to play," he said. "After a while you get sick and tired of sitting around and watching the guys play. You want to be part of it. You want to be on the ice and be part of the team again."
Line shakeup?: Babcock appeared to mix up his second and third lines in the morning skate.
"I did it in the pre-game skate today, so we'll see what happens," Babcock said. "Basically I'm trying to get Helmer in a spot where he can do what he normally does. I want energy. I think him, Abby and Millsy might be able to give me that. I haven't decided 100 percent for sure. Game-time decision."
The Franzen line offers size, but Babcock said they have to change their approach against L.A.
"To me, we've been a bit of a rush team and not much a grind team," Babcock said. "L.A., the last time we played them, got the game on the walls and ground us. That's why we weren't on the inside and we weren't at their net enough to play in their zone. It's got to be different here today. We can't expect to be successful doing that."
Franzen has played pivot in his career but hasn’t done it much this season.
"That's where I feel most comfortable -- at the center position," Franzen said. "But I might be a little rusty. It's been a while since I've played center, but hopefully after a few shifts I'm back into it."
Power-play issues: Detroit is 0-for-20 on the power play over the past five games and 3-for-41 in its last 11 games.
Babcock said the Wings have to take a "real simplified approach, much like we would do at training camp. Normally you do it four or five times a year. But this is an ongoing thing for us. I think it's in our head more than anything. The way to get out of it is to simplify and shoot the puck, and we'll get one and get on a roll."
ANAHEIM, Calif. --Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall pronounced himself fit to play Monday after going through the morning skate pain free at Honda Center.
Hall hurt his shoulder on a cross-check by Mark Fistric of Dallas on Friday night. He was held out of practice Sunday and was thought to be questionable for Monday night's game against Anaheim.
"It was a little sore when I woke up yesterday," Hall said. "(They) kind of recommended not to practice and we took that time to get the swelling down. Going out there today is usually the thing that would hurt it and didn't it at all, so I don't see why I can't play tonight. If (coach) Tom (Renney) has anything else to say, that's fine, but I think I should be in."
Hall might have to address the area during the offseason with a possible procedure but he said he'll cross that bridge when he comes to it.
"There's no question that throughout the season you're going to have little nicks and scrapes, and you have to take care of them when the season’s done," he said. "That's something we're going to have to re-visit."
Omark up: Edmonton recalled Linus Omark in case Hall couldn't go, but Omark figures to get another look at some point anyway.
Renney said Omark is a game-time decision. It would be the fourth game in four nights for Omark, who played all three games over the weekend for the Oklahoma City Barons.
How will his legs feel?
"I don't know," Omark said. "I don't remember (ever doing) that. Of course it's a chance, so I'm glad to be here. I got to find a way to have fresh legs."
Omark was initially sent down in October to find his scoring touch, but he suffered a broken ankle with the Barons and was out for three months. He has 5 goals and 9 points in 11 games with Oklahoma City since he returned, and this is something of a tryout because he is an impending free agent.
"Where this ends up going, it's hard to say," Renney said. "I think he can contribute to our team, our organization. I think there's an opportunity for him, should he come back and have a real strong training camp and make some noise for himself again. Obviously, he needs to get traction."
"I've looked at every team's schedule many times over and if we do what we're supposed to do -- there's still 98 points on the boards if we win them all -- I don't think it's going to take 98 points to make the playoffs but we're still eligible to play," Boudreau said.
So what will it take to make it?
"Not 98," he said.
Brookbank finds his role:Sheldon Brookbank has quietly put together a statement season in that he has become a regular on the back end of the defense.
Brookbank is two games shy of his career-high 66 games played. He's had three goals in nine games after he went 167 games without scoring.
After spending six years in the minors, he's become a regular.
"You don't have to play thinking that if you make a mistake, you're sitting in the press box, you know?" Brookbank said. "You can't make a bunch of mistakes, but they give you a little bit of rope."
"The pucks are going in right now," he said. "I'll take every one I can get."
Special teams struggle: Anaheim has allowed seven power play goals in the last seven games, and Boudreau sees a pattern he would like discontinued against Edmonton's top-ranked power play.
"They're always at the end of the penalty kill," Boudreau said. "We're killing off a minute and 40 seconds and then we make a mistake and then it seems to be in our net. That's something we have to fix. We've sort of figured out a few things and hopefully we apply them tonight. The League's best power play is not the ideal situation coming in, but if you're going to get any confidence from doing something well you might as well start against the best."
Boudreau ripped the officiating after Saturday night's game but said he wasn't fined by the League.
But coach Darryl Sutter isn’t concerned because Carter has been getting chances. He has eight shots on goal in three games and has hit at least two post going into Saturday' game againt Anaheim.
“He’s been really good,” Sutter said. “He’s had more quality scoring chances than anybody on our team. He moves it around on the power play.”
Sutter also likes that Carter’s role as second-line wing with Mike Richards allows the Kings to use the Dustin Penner-Jarret Stoll-Trevor Lewis line as a shut-down line.
Carter also plays up top on the penalty-killing unit with Richards. The Kings have killed all 10 penalties since Carter joined them in last week's blockbuster trade with Columbus that sent Jack Johnson to the Blue Jackets.
“The important part of it for us is that allows us to have a third line,” Sutter said. “It doesn’t bother us to get the right three there to play against anybody.”
Clifford back: It appears that Kyle Clifford will return to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
Clifford has continued to show great potential as an aggressive fourth-line winger who can chip in a goal. But, he committed pivotal penalties against Phoenix and had a turnover against Colorado that led to a goal. Sutter talked to Clifford and the message was clear.
“I need to get my identity back,” Clifford said. “Every player goes through tough stretches. It’s about finding your identity and being the player that you are.”
Said Sutter, “He’s got a clear role, and when that role slips he becomes an American League player. You have to make clear to him what his identity is. We were saying as a captain or a physical defenseman and seems to step out of that role. Young guys do all the time. You have to reinforce it and be patient with it, but there’s also a point where you have to see it.”
Sutter on Selanne: Sutter caught parts of Friday night’s Anaheim-Calgary game and watched 41-year-old Teemu Selanne create a 2-on-1 and deliver a perfect saucer pass to Bobby Ryan for Anaheim’s first goal.
“Teemu, he must seem about 20 years (younger),” Sutter said. “Unbelievable. If we weren’t playing them so much, I could talk about him all day.”
Hiller is expected to make a franchise-record 24th consecutive start Friday when the Anaheim Ducks host the Calgary Flames. It's the heaviest workload in Hiller's young career; he'll match a career-high with his 59th game played tonight.
Hiller never played more than 44 games for his Swiss team, Davos, and never has had to carry the load in this short of a stretch.
"Back home in Europe, you normally play all the games -- but that's just, like, 40-something games," Hiller said. "I haven't played that many games in such a short period of time in quite a while. But at the same time, I'm feeling good. Why not?"
Hiller's durability is needed after coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday that backup Dan Ellis likely will miss another 4-6 weeks with a torn groin muscle.
Ellis was scheduled to see a doctor Friday and the team could announce that he is done for the season. Jeff Deslauriers is Hiller's backup, but Anaheim plans on riding Hiller to the end in a quest at a playoff berth.
Hiller is expected to play again Saturday, when the Ducks play at Los Angeles.
"We give him the time off and he plays the games because we're worried about that sort of thing -- him getting overly tired," Boudreau said. "The only time I saw him look with any sense of fatigue was maybe the Colorado game (on Monday). He's been sharp and he's been strong and I ask him every day how he's feeling to make sure that we're doing the right things for him, because he knows -- unless something negative happens -- that he probably starts most of the games, if not all of them, from here on in."
Hiller seems up to the task and has re-kindled the form that made him one of the top goalies in the League before vertigo symptoms effectively ended his season last February.
If anything, that bizarre ailment has made Hiller more in tune with his body.
"I definitely got a better understanding of how to take care of it and listen to my body about when something's aching," Hiller said. "I just think, 'Well, just work through it.' I just have to take care of it. Normally, with massage or treatment, you can get rid of stuff before it gets serious. Bruce has given me the opportunity to take my rest, to take my options on certain days or certain practices, which definitely helps to stay sharp mentally, which is as almost as tough as being ready physically."
Ellis, who ably filled in for Hiller during Anaheim's second-half run last season, has been out since December. A team spokesman said he has not suffered a setback, although Ellis reportedly was skating on his own during the team's recent road trip.
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The 48-hour saga of Cody Hodgson finally saw him skate with his new teammates in Anaheim on Wednesday morning.
Hodgson arrived in Southern California about 9 p.m. on Tuesday night after he flew from Phoenix to Buffalo to complete visa work and medical clearance, then to Anaheim in time for Wednesday night's game against the Ducks.
"We just got something quick to eat (last night) and shut it down really quick," Hodgson said. "It didn't take long to fall asleep.
"There's still unanswered texts and calls. The phone's ringing off the hook -- well-wishers, people trying to know what's going on. It's been a whirlwind. But I'm excited and ready to go."
There was also a fake Twitter account someone is using to pose as Hodgson.
Hodgson did his first full introductory media scrum and acknowledged he was taken aback by the move but didn't say much more.
"I didn't know what to think," Hodgson said. "But I'm excited. I'm looking forward. It's a good group of guys and hopefully I can fit in and do well, depending on where things go. But I'm interested in helping the team get in the playoff picture."
But Ruff added, "There's nothing etched in stone with these lines. We don't get a chance to practice them, so you don't know what they're going to look like. We can easily take a look at different lines even during the game."
Ruff met Hodgson for the first time and one thing stood out.
"I think the first thing you notice is the thickness," Ruff said. "He's got good hands. I think he understands the game. He's got good hands. Again, a young player (who) wants an elevated role. Obviously that's what we're going to try and give him."
That was an issue in Vancouver, where Hodgson was stuck behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler at center and averaged only 12:43 minutes of ice time.
Hodgson still poured in 16 goals and 17 assists in 63 games. He only said of his role in Vancouver, "They're a solid team, but so is here. They've had a bit of injury troubles, but most guys are pretty healthy now and I'm looking forward to getting back on track."
Hodgson was given jersey No. 19 and had all of 20 minutes with his new teammates. A lack of adrenaline probably won’t be an issue tonight.
"I'm a little nervous, but that's a good thing," Hodgson said.
It appears that Sulzer will start his Sabres career as a healthy scratch as the seventh defenseman.
Goalie matchup: The rare Anaheim-Buffalo tilt features Jonas Hiller against Ryan Miller.
Hiller will tie a franchise record with his 23rd straight start. Miller backstopped Buffalo to a 4-1 victory in the season opener Oct. 7 in the NHL Premiere Games.
Top line back together: Judging from the morning skate, it looks Anaheim will go back to its top line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
"I don't care, really," Ryan said. "Either way, you got a playmaker in Saku or Getz and you got a guy that's really good around the net in Teemu and Pears. The only thing's that changed is the way you create offense through the cycle. I think for the most part, I've had chemistry with both sides, so I'm comfortable anyway."
Smith-Pelly to stay:Devante Smith-Pelly will remain with the Ducks for the rest of the season, Boudreau told the Orange County Register earlier this week.
The move speaks to the development of the 19-year-old, who suffered a broken foot in the World Juniors but has carved out a role with his broad shoulders and third-line grit.
Smith-Pelly said he had to adjust to NHL speed, but felt he was a regular shortly before the injury.
"I felt right around the Christmas break, before I went to World Juniors, probably around the time Bruce came on board, that's when I kind of felt I was getting the hang of it and I could be an everyday player," Smith-Pelly said.
"Bruce kind of gave me a little extra confidence and I'm just hoping to continue that."
Hodgson, taken by Vancouver with the 10th pick of 2008 Entry draft, currently is tied for second among rookies with 16 goals in 63 games, which makes him the third leading scorer on the Sabres.
Neither player was available for practice Tuesday, as they were back in Buffalo for their physicals. Hodgson also had to take care of paperwork regarding his work visa. The Sabres expected both players to arrive in time for the game.
With the Sabres, Hodgson will be reunited with Sabres center Tyler Ennis and defenseman Tyler Myers; the three won gold medals with Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championship.
"He was a huge part of our gold-medal team,” Ennis said of Hodgson, who led that tournament with 11 assists and 16 points in six games. "He was probably one of the best guys in the tournament."
Added Myers, "If he plays anything like he did in the World Juniors, he's a very good player. He was a really nice kid. I know that was three years ago, but I doubt much has changed."
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said it will be "trial and error" working in Hodgson. He said the initial thought would be to have him center Ennis and Drew Stafford.
"I know we're getting a real good player," Ruff said. "I've heard nothing but good things about Hodgson and the offensive side of it. I told the team that there's some guys that are going to get a bigger role, some guys will get different roles. We've got a guy that left that was our top penalty guy, top faceoff guy, and he was the guy that played the last minute of the game. Players are usually begging for those responsibilities and I want to see who comes through."
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The focus was on who wasn't on the ice when the Buffalo Sabres practiced Tuesday for the first time since the trade deadline.
Newly acquired center Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer had not yet arrived because they traveled to Buffalo for medical clearances.
Noticeably absent was veteran center Paul Gaustad, and at least one teammate voiced his disapproval at the organization's decision to deal him to Nashville.
"I'm not going to lie -- I'm not really happy about the way it all turned out," said goalie Ryan Miller. "But (it's) the business of hockey. We don't make those decisions -- there's more proof. If I had any more influence, Paul would still be here. I really appreciate the way he plays and he's been one of my best friends for a long time there."
Miller came up through the Sabres organization with Gaustad, a third-line center who is a key penalty killer and faceoff man. Buffalo sent Gaustad and a fourth round draft pick in 2013 to Nashville for a first round pick in this year's draft.
"If you don't understand, I'm not going to explain it," Miller said of Gaustad's worth. "Because it's just too important for a hockey team, I think. So it is a little frustrating in that regard.
"Personally, we're close friends and also I think he's a big part of the team. No matter the way you view hockey, you have to understand how important players like Paul can be and how long it takes to develop a guy who plays that way at such a high level. Winning those faceoffs is not easy. Killing those (penalties) is not easy. There's not a lot of guys that are willing to do that job."
Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said it was difficult when he spoke with Gaustad.
"I've been with him all these years," Ruff said. "I remember his first game. He came up and I thought, 'I don't know. His skating may hurt him. He may never make it.' He's come a long a way. That's a tough one. It's like dealing with a Brian Campbell. You've grown up with a player like that, spent all those years with him. It's tough to see him go."
Carter had a physical off site and is expected to join the team before the 5 p.m. PT game at Staples Center.
“You’re still waiting for the League sign off,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “But he’s been through everything so that’s not an issue but there’s still a formal procedure that they have to do, and because it’s Saturday – I guess its trouble putting all that together.”
Sutter confirmed Carter will play on the second line with Mike Richards. Dwight King has had chemistry with Richards and will likely fill the other wing spot.
Sutter plans to plug in Carter without much hitch.
“Our systems and all that are pretty generic,” he said. “And he’s played most of the season. Other than the odd tweak or maybe three feet where he’s got to be, there’s not much (adjustment).”
Voynov in: Slava Voynov returns to the lineup after he was recalled. A bright spot on defense this season, Voynov is largely why the club justified trading Jack Johnson.
Voynov said he found out about his recall during a game with the Manchester Monarchs. He is aware of this increased responsibility.
“I’ve waited for this time,” Voynov said. “First power-play (unit) – more pressure for me.”
Father watching:Jordan Nolan said his father, former NHL coach Ted Nolan, is in town and will watch him in Los Angeles for the first time.
Jordan Nolan has been put on the fourth line but his stay with the big club has gone on longer than he expected.
“I’m probably the guy they’ll send down next because of waivers,” Nolan said. “You just got to keep on your toes and play your best hockey because you never know.”
Nolan said he’s learned a lot in his brief time in the NHL.
“I think I’ve learned how serious the game is, how badly the guys want to win and how guys want to be successful,” he said. “It’s a business and guys want to stay in the lineup, so that’s all I’m trying to do right now.”
Penner will return to the lineup on Saturday night against Calgary, and an unusually chatty Sutter made it clear it was only by necessity because Kevin Westgarth has a sore hand.
“He’s a veteran,” Sutter said of Penner. “He better step up to the plate - very simple. He came out of the lineup because he was horse (expletive). He better step up to the plate or he might not get another look. Simple.”
Penner has been a healthy scratch the past three games and has been a major disappointment to the team that is paying him $4.25 million this season.
He has five goals and 13 points with a minus-6 rating in 43 games this season. L.A. has opted to play rookies Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, who have a combined 12 games of NHL experience, on the second line although Penner has been available.
“If we really needed it tonight (Westgarth would be in), but it’s not the type of team we’re playing,” Sutter said.
Stoll out: Jarret Stoll is not yet ready to return from a hip muscle injury, Sutter said.
The Kings put Trent Hunter on waivers Friday to open up a roster spot for Stoll but his activation will have to wait, meaning King and Nolan will stay up with the club in the meantime.
Hunter cleared waivers Saturday.
Leapfrog game: Los Angeles would fall out of the top eight of the Western Conference with a loss tonight, but Sutter said he didn’t look at it that way.
“You know what? There’s two spots for seven or eight teams, so I don’t see any difference in those teams,” Sutter said. “It comes down to … head-to-head against those teams.”
A lack of scoring is sinking L.A., and Sutter addressed what he perceived to be criticism for a lack of effort in that department.
“They connect effort with scoring and that’s really unfair to the players,” Sutter said.
Sutter said all these close, low-scoring games his team is involved in is good for a team that is still young.
“For me that’s a good measuring stick for a lot of guys that haven’t either been in that position or haven’t had success in that position,” he said. “The biggest mistake that everybody made with this group here was (giving them big) expectations because they lost in the first round last year. That’s got nothing to do with anything.”
Gagne skating: Simon Gagne has been skating for the first time since he suffered a concussion on Dec.26 but there is no timetable for his return.
Simmer honored: Former King Charlie Simmer will be honored before the game in the third edition of the Kings Legends Night series.
Simmer played on the Triple Crown line with Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He is second on the franchise’s all-time scoring list among left wings with 222 goals and ninth on the team’s all-time scoring list.
Simmer is a television color analyst for Calgary. The Kings will wear their vintage purple-and-gold uniforms.