Opportunity awaits Pearson alongside Richards, Carter
There have been six games this season in which the names of Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey, and Tyler Toffoli have been written into the same lineup card.
The Kings are 4-0-2 in those games, which were played between November 14 and 23.
Tonight, all three will be in the lineup when the Kings face the Colorado Avalanche.
“They’ve got to give us something on one of those lines,” Darryl Sutter said. “If they don’t, then there’s two good guys that don’t get to play tonight that’ll play tomorrow. “It’s not hard to figure out.”
Toffoli, the most accomplished of the three at the NHL level with 12 goals and 24 points in 49 regular season games, skated to the left of Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams at practice Tuesday and at Wednesday’s morning skate. He is a natural right wing.
Vey has skated in between Jordan Nolan and Trevor Lewis on the fourth line.
One of the more interesting developments in the post-Olympic alignments has been Pearson skating to the left of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Pearson, 21, has scored one goal in eight regular season games and one playoff game since he was drafted by Los Angeles with the final pick of the first round in 2012.
He noted that while he has skated with both Richards and Toffoli, this would mark the first game he has skated with Richards and Carter.
“When you come into this league I think it’s all about confidence and chemistry with those guys,” Pearson said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “So it’s kind of new, but hopefully we get the chemistry going quickly off the start and generate offense.”
He’s surely being put in position to do so. Six-foot-one and 200 pounds, he’s already fairly well filled out and has etched out a career as a power forward who drives to the net and possesses a potent shot. In 41 games with AHL-Manchester, the second-year pro has 17 goals and 32 points.
Skating alongside a pair of former Olympic gold medal winners should offer him a fine stage to demonstrate his ability.
“I think, maybe I’m looking more into crashing [the net] and also creating offense and then play my game up here – what’s going to get my confidence up here,” Pearson said. “So I’m just going to take it shift by shift and try to generate offense.”
Richards articulated how the chemistry with Pearson is developing in their limited time together.
“He’s a shooter. He’s a good player,” Richards said.”I mean, with Jeff too there, hopefully we can create something. That’s going to take some time in games. I’ve only played with him a short period, but chemistry is obviously big and hopefully we can stay together for a period of time, where we can actually kind of create some.”
Generating chemistry and continuity with his wingers will be a goal of Richards’, who appeared with different sets of linemates earlier this month as the Kings attempted to ignite a stagnant offense that scored only 15 times in the 11 games leading up to the Olympic break.
“We’ve had some success,” Richards said about playing with Carter. “It’s a player who you’re comfortable playing with. I think anytime you can play with any type of player, any player for an extended period and gain some chemistry and know where each other are on the ice, it makes things a lot easier. That’s one of the parts that’s been missing, I think, prior to the break is some chemistry. It seems like just a lot of line juggling just to try to get things going and sometimes it’s just you try to keep it as simple as possible and you go back to things that have worked in the past.”
Mike Richards, on any adjustment when playing three games in three and a half days:
No, all you can do is just take care of the first one and just kind of go from there. It’s a matter of, I think, just taking care of the back-to-back and getting your break on Friday and re-energizing and coming back on Saturday. We just had two weeks off, so we should be rested. So, I think if there was ever a time to do it, it should be now.
Richards, on the excitement of returning from the Olympic break:
I obviously enjoyed the break, but it’s nice to get back and just get started again. We have a lot of hockey here. It’s probably the most important and most exciting time to play is March and into April. So I think everyone is excited for it.
Tanner Pearson, on whether he has proven himself at the AHL level:
You can always get better each and every day. Here, you do get better every day. From practice to games, it’s a different league. Everything is so much faster. You have to be on your toes all the time.