Andrei Loktionov has been a lineup regular since the Kings called him up from the AHL in mid-November, but tonight he will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Trent Hunter rejoins the lineup as the third-line right winger and Trevor Lewis slides over to center. It’s been a bit of a tough go for Loktionov. Shortly after they called him up, the Kings moved Loktionov back to his natural position of center, but the production hasn’t followed. In second- and third line roles, Loktionov has zero goals and two assists in 14 games and has gone 10 consecutive games without a point.
STEVENS: “We like Lokti and we think he’s going to be a good player in the league. I think, in order to do that, he has to be an extremely competitive player that wins puck battles, that wants to hang onto the puck to make plays. As (with) any young player, he’s going to get better defensively. I just don’t think he’s been at that level that we expect from him, and I think it’s good for young players to step back and watch a game and learn from it. So that message has been communicated to him clearly. Again, we think the world of him, but when you have healthy players on the sidelines that are very hungry to play, it doesn’t matter if it’s Lokti or someone else, if you level drops off, I think it’s important to make a change.’’
The Kings aren’t expected to make any other lineup changes, meaning defenseman Slava Voynov will be a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game.
STEVENS: “Quite frankly, that’s because of numbers. I thought the six guys that played, played extremely well in the last game. I think when the guys come in and play that well as a group, it’s important to reward them with another opportunity to play. In Davis’ case, I don’t think we could ask any more of him than what we’ve asked of him, how hard he works. He’s such a strong kid mentally. We like him in the lineup because of that. It’s not surprising that, in a tough situation, he comes through for us. That’s the kind of kid he is.’’