The Kings had a scheduled off day on Sunday after returning home from a grueling six-game, 11-day road trip in which the Kings posted a 2-3-1 mark, securing five of 12 possible points.
The Kings returned to practice today in preparation for a Tuesday night match up with the Dallas Stars.
The Kings are 4-0-1 vs. Dallas this season. Los Angeles has a chance to earn a point in each meeting in the series for the first time since 1995-96, when the team went 0-0-4 and should the Kings earn a point, it will mark just the seventh time in the 41-year history of the Kings/Stars rivalry (1974-75: 4-0-0; 1979-80; 2-0-2; 1980-81: 4-0-0; 1987-88: 3-0-0; 1990-91: 3-0-0; 1995-96: 0-0-4) that the Kings were able to do so.
The lineup from Nashville stayed the same with one change in the defensive pairings below. The team will also have a slight change to their usual game-day itinerary, hosting the morning skate at STAPLES Center, as opposed to Toyota Sports Center, as the team will be taking the official Team Photo for the 2008-09 season.
Every team photo in Kings history can be found here.
GAUTHIER SKATES; QUINCEY SITS
Denis Gauthier, who has not played since suffering an upper body injury on the Kings first game of the road trip, a 3-2 OT win at Boston on March 19, returned to participate in full practice today, partnered with Drew Doughty.
"It feels good enough to play," Gauthier said. "I am hoping I can go tomorrow vs. Dallas. It feels good enough. I have been keeping in shape and I am hoping to come back sooner rather than later."
Gauthier returned home to Los Angeles following the injury for treatment and has been skating daily.
"I spoke with a few of the guys on the road. You want to know what’s happening and you don’t want to be home and doing nothing," the rearguard said. "We still have a job to do, my job is staying ready."
Gauthier will be evaluated by a team physician tomorrow morning. He has posted 2-2=4 with 74 PIMs and a -13 plus-minus rating in 58 games this season, his first with the Kings. Gauthier suffered the injury blocking a shot vs. Boston on Friday night.
Kyle Quincey, meanwhile, did not participate in practice and was scheduled to have an MRI on an undisclosed injury.
Quincey leads all Kings defenseman with 34 assists and 38 points, his 38 points rank 25th amongst NHL blueliners, while he is tied for 16th with 34 assists.
Since having a four-game point streak from March 3-9 (1-4=5), Quincey has been held scoreless, a span of nine games, his longest scoreless streak of the season.
WILLIAMS HAPPY TO CONTRIBUTE
A positive from the road trip was the debut of forward Justin Williams, who made his Kings debut at Pittsburgh on March 20.
"It’s one thing to change teams and be in the swing of things and be healthy and rolling," Williams said, "it is another thing to come in the way I have. I haven’t quite found a rhythm yet, but I am starting to feel good and I am happy to be back in the room and back on the ice."
Williams scored the game-winning shootout goal at Dallas on March 26.
"I was excited to get the opportunity when Terry tapped me on the shoulder for the shootout," the 27-year-old winger said. "When [Jere] Lehtinen scored to tie the shootout, it gave me a chance to do something."
Williams is 1-for-2 on the season on shootout attempts (0-for-1 with Carolina) and is now 2-for-8 in his career. He has played in each of the last five Kings games, going scoreless with seven shots on net and a minus-2 rating.
"I am just trying to catch up and do what I am capable of out there. I am looking for a good final seven games for me and however the season ends, that will be that and we will come back here strong next year.
"I see this team right on the brink of something really great. It is an exceptionally good young team. The camaraderie on this team is amazing. That is integral on a winning team. You don’t want clicks on a team, you don’t want outsiders, you want a team that comes together. You have a lot of guys who are fun to be around, love playing hockey and love to come to the arena. I think this team is about to do something really good, and I really want to be a part of it."
The quickest way for Williams to assimilate to the group, ping pong.
"I have been teaming with Kopi lately and have taken down Team Red Bull (self-proclaimed Kings ping-pong champion Derek Armstrong and Brad Richardson). We are 3-0, it hasn’t been close."
BOYLE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITY
With Jarret Stoll’s groin injury shelving the centerman for the remainder of the season, Brian Boyle was recalled from Manchester and scored a goal in the first game of his most recent call up.
"I was forechecking [Shea] Weber, I reached out and got a bit of the puck. Weber fell down and lost an edge and I had a chance to make a play on the puck. I had a couple of fortunate bounces, but it went in. They want me to forecheck hard and use my reach to make things like that happen. It was a good feeling."
The 6-7 Boyle has been up and down with the Kings this season, scoring 2-1=3 in 21 games with Los Angeles, while adding 10-11=21 in 42 games with the Monarchs.
"It has been a long year, but I have learned a lot," Boyle said. "I am just going to try and have fun with it this time. I am going to go out and play hard and take a lot of the pressure off myself. I am fortunate to be here."
HICKEY ASSIGNED TO MANCHESTER
Defenseman Thomas Hickey was assigned to the Manchester Monarchs for the rest of their season after the Seattle T-Birds lost in five games to the Spokane Chiefs in the first round of the WHL playoffs on March 28. In four seasons with the T-Birds, Hickey appeared in 262 games and had 39 goals and 138 assists for 177 points. He had a plus/minus rating of plus-73 with 208 career penalty minutes.
Hickey is expected to sign an Amateur Try Out (ATO) contract tomorrow when he arrives in Manchester.
Hickey, selected by the Kings with the fourth overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, was a two-time T-Bird captain. He won consecutive gold medals with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in 2008 and 2009.
KEEPING IT CLOSE
37 of the Kings’ 75 games this season have been decided by one goal (17-9-11). Los Angeles is 16-5-9 in its last 30 one-goal decisions. Nine of the last 13 Kings games have been decided by one goal (5-2-2).