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At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Kings

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter will return to the lineup Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET; SNO, FS-W), but it's unknown if that will be the limit of the Kings' changes.

Carter took line rushes with left wing Tanner Pearson and right wing Marian Gaborik and left the ice early, as he usually does when he's healthy. Carter has missed five games because of an upper-body injury sustained on the opening faceoff of a Dec. 26 game against the Arizona Coyotes.

It's unknown if center Vincent Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn will be in the lineup. They were not in the facility for the morning skate and were expected to undergo physicals and meet with team personnel. Schenn would seem more likely to play even though he has not practiced with the Kings. Lecavalier has not played since Nov. 12.

Both were the topic of conversation a day after they were acquired by the Kings (25-12-2) from the Philadelphia Flyers for center Jordan Weal and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Defenseman Drew Doughty knows Schenn from Hockey Canada tournament teams, and they were the second (Doughty) and fifth (Schenn, by the Toronto Maple Leaf) picks of the 2008 draft. Schenn’s brother, Flyers forward Brayden Schenn, was selected by the Kings with the fifth pick of the 2009 draft.

"We've been friends for a long time," Doughty said of Luke Schenn. "I know him pretty well. I know how to kind of take care of him OK … give him the lay of the [land] with the team, kind of give him his role. He's going to step up and play his best tonight."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter did not say how much Lecavalier and Luke Schenn could help but concurred with Kings general manager Dean Lombardi's assessment that Schenn addresses a lack of physicality lost with defenseman Matt Greene out with a shoulder injury.

"We lost Robyn [Regehr] and [Greene] from last year's team," Sutter said. "Those guys were big parts of the team two years ago and they were an important part of our team last year too. We've had to move guys around and move partners around … I think our depth of our defense has not allowed everybody to play as well as they should."

James Reimer will start in goal, Maple Leafs (16-15-7) coach Mike Babcock told the Toronto Sun after their morning skate at Staples Center. The Maple Leafs shut out the Anaheim Ducks 4-0 on Wednesday behind 39 saves by goalie Jonathan Bernier and are going for a season-high fourth straight win.

Reimer has missed 10 of the past 12 games because of a lower-body injury while Bernier has regained his form. Reimer has not played a full game since Dec. 3.

"I've taken the proper steps and indeed good to go,” Reimer told the Toronto Sun.

Here are the projected lineups:


James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - PA Parenteau

Michael Grabner - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

Daniel Winnik - Mark Arcobello - Joffrey Lupul

Shawn Matthias - Peter Holland - Brad Boyes

Jake Gardiner - Dion Phaneuf

Matt Hunwick - Morgan Rielly

Martin Marincin - Roman Polak

James Reimer

Jonathan Bernier

Injured: Stephane Robidas (lower body), Nick Spaling (upper body), Byron Froese (lower body)

Scratched: Antoine Bibeau, Frank Corrado


Milan Lucic - Anze Kopitar - Tyler Toffoli

Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Marian Gaborik

Dwight King - Trevor Lewis - Dustin Brown

Michael Mersch - Andy Andreoff - Jordan Nolan

Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez

Christian Ehrhoff - Jamie McBain

Jonathan Quick

Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Matt Greene (shoulder), Kyle Clifford (upper body)

Scratched: Vincent Lecavalier, Luke Schenn

Status report: Quick was the first goalie off the ice. … Clifford skated on his own … It is not known if Toronto will use its same lineup in the second game of a back-to-back.

Who's hot: Kopitar has one goal and nine assists during a six-game point streak. … Van Riemsdyk has four goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak.

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