SENATORS (25-23-10) at KINGS (29-18-12)
TV: RDS, TSN5, FS-W
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Newly acquired defenseman Andrej Sekera wasn't able to participate in the Los Angeles Kings morning skate but he is expected to be available to make his Kings debut when they play the Ottawa Senators at Staples Center on Thursday.
Coach Darryl Sutter said they were waiting for Sekera to get medical clearance, and Sekera was not yet available to reporters. The move is seen as another shrewd pre-NHL Trade Deadline move by general manager Dean Lombardi, this time to get a skilled puck mover who can take some pressure off of defenseman Drew Doughty, who leads the NHL in average ice time (29:27).
"I think he's very mobile," Sutter said. "He's played a little bit both sides. He's familiar with some of our players. They know his character. He's a good addition."
The Kings acquired Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday for prospect Ronald McKeown and a conditional first-round pick in either the 2015 or 2016 NHL Draft. Sekera knows Kings left wing and fellow Slovakian Marian Gaborik, who said he will probably have Sekera stay at his house.
Sekera used to pair with Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr with the Buffalo Sabres. Regehr, Gaborik and center Jeff Carter were late-season additions to the Kings and know what it's like to come to a new team.
"It's a lot of different emotions," Regehr said. "First of all is the excitement that surrounds the change, because anytime you're going to an organization that has a chance to win from one that's been struggling for a number of years -- right away, you know you're going to be right in the thick of things, and as an individual you have to make you energy levels and your competitiveness is up to where it needs to be, and I think he's really looking forward to that; having something to play for rather than trying to secure a job.”
Gaborik, who played with Sekera in international competitions, anticipates a smooth transition.
"He's been around for a while, so he knows what's at stake," Gaborik said. "He knows how to handle himself and he's excited. He's going to help us, for sure."
Sutter said he was surprised the Kings made a trade knowing they are up against the salary cap. He also said, "I don't have to watch the video on that type of player. I know how good a player he is."
Sutter echoed Regehr on why it has been so easy for new players to be easily accepted and thrive with the Kings.
"When a player comes in here, it's a little bit different than probably it was in the past, when the team's used to doing well," Sutter said. "You're expected to maximize your potential. Most players like to do that, and they like to do that in an environment where everybody's maximizing their potential. He's coming to a hockey club that's had some success, and he's coming from two clubs that haven't had any. It's always a better situation, for sure."
The Kings are attempting to tie a franchise record with their ninth consecutive victory, last accomplished from Jan. 21-Feb. 6, 2010. It will be the second time this week the Kings will catch an opponent on the second game of a back-to-back, after Ottawa beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 on Wednesday to begin a five-game trip.
The Senators have won three straight and five of seven. Coach Dave Cameron confirmed to reporters after an optional skate that goalie Andrew Hammond will start again.
Hammond is the second goalie in Ottawa history, after Mike Brodeur, to win each of his first three NHL starts and the first to do so in three straight starts.
Here are the projected lineups:
Mike Hoffman – Mika Zibanejad – Bobby Ryan
Milan Michalek - Kyle Turris – Mark Stone
Colin Greening- David Legwand - Alex Chiasson
Erik Condra – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Curtis Lazar
Marc Methot – Erik Karlsson
Patrick Wiercioch – Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki – Eric Gryba
Scratched: Matt Puempel
Suspended: Jared Cowen
Injured: Zack Smith (wrist), Craig Anderson (hand), Chris Neil, (thumb) Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Robin Lehner (concussion), Chris Phillips (soreness)
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Dwight King – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Trevor Lewis – Jarret Stoll – Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford – Nick Shore – Jordan Nolan
Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Matt Greene – Jake Muzzin
Brayden McNabb – Jamie McBain/Andrej Sekera
Scratched: Andy Andreoff, Derek Forbort
Suspended: Slava Voynov
Injured: Alec Martinez (concussion)
Status report: Greening will go in for Puempel, according to Ottawa's Twitter feed. … Quick has won five of six career games against Ottawa. The Kings did their regular line rushes without Sekera, so it is unclear how the defensive pairings would be with Sekera drawing in.
Who's hot: Turris has five goals and five assists in seven games. Condra has a career-high five-game point streak. … Quick has a 1.63 goals-against average and .940 save percentage during the Kings streak. Kopitar has 31 points in the past 28 games.