Today, I jokingly told Willie Mitchell that, soon, he and Alexei Ponikarovsky will be able to star in some hockey-themed buddy movie. To the chagrin of both players, they’ve been able to spend plenty of time together this season because of similarly-timed injuries, and now both will return to the lineup in the same game tomorrow when the Kings host Columbus. After today’s practice, Terry Murray pronounced both players to be ready. That wasn’t a surprise in terms of Ponikarovsky (pictured, right), who has been practicing with the team in recent days, but was much more surprising in terms of Mitchell (pictured, left), who hadn’t made it through a full-team practice until today. Mitchell described himself as “feeling better and better every day,” and said he wouldn’t put himself in a position that would hurt the team, but also didn’t deny that the Kings’ recent slump might have impacted his return date…

MITCHELL: “I wouldn’t say it’s not in your mind at all. Of course it is, but I like to think I’ve played long enough, and unfortunately I’ve had a little too much experience with injuries in this past year, to where you have to put yourself back in a situation where you’re not a liability. There’s a fine between pushing it and putting your best foot forward for the team, and putting yourself at risk. We’ve had some good skates, and once I feel comfortable in my mind with things, I don’t need a week of practice. The only way to get back and get things going is to get in a game. That’s how you get in game shape and thinking and all those things. So I’m really excited. I want to play some hockey. I haven’t played nearly enough this year. Everything happens for a reason, but I’m just really hungry to get out there and help the guys. I haven’t played a ton yet this year. I felt like I was just coming into my game, after a long, long layoff. Sometimes the season can be long and grueling, and it’s a bit of a grind, but for me, it’s probably a little bit different from these guys. I’m hungry to get out there and get playing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

The Kings had a 5-6 record during Mitchell’s most recent injury and were 1-5 with both Mitchell and Ponikarovsky out of the lineup. Ponikarovsky will become the ninth player to take shifts on Kopitar’s left side this season. Murray expressed confidence that both players were ready to contribute.

MURRAY: “(Mitchell) went through a lot of competitive drills here today, and has done a lot of skating over the last couple weeks. He’s ready to get back in there, so both players will be back in the lineup tomorrow. Ponikarovsky, where you saw him today, on the line with Kopi, is probably where I’m going to leave him for tomorrow’s start. I’d like to see good things happen there. Hopefully it does, but that’s where he will fit in for the start of tomorrow’s game.”

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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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