Sure, Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli may have combined for seven points in the Kings’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Coyotes in Glendale on Monday night, but that’s no big deal.
“We had a little power play time and we were moving the puck well, and I think we all felt pretty good,” Toffoli said.
It’s business as usual for the trio colloquially known as That 70’s Line.
If you want a rise from the younger members of the group, reference the open ice hit that Toffoli had on former Manchester and Los Angeles teammate Andrew Campbell, now a defenseman with Arizona.
“I was laughing pretty good at that one, and I think he was, too,” Pearson said. “That was a good hit.”
Power forward, Tyler Toffoli.
“He went to hit me, actually,” Toffoli recalled. “I just tried to hold by ground and I guess he just lost his balance. Chalk me up for a hit.”
Joking aside, the line produced an outstanding first period and maintained its strong play throughout the game. Toffoli attempted seven shots, a game-high amongst forwards. Pearson also notched three points and Carter added two assists in the teams’ preseason split squad opener.
“I think that line was really good,” Darryl Sutter said on Monday. “They were good all night.”
Not that it should be a surprise to anyone who partook in the line’s chemistry during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs – particularly in the seven-game series win over Chicago – the group operated with an impressive advantage in five-on-five offensive zone time and also chipped in with five power play points.
“You play with guys long enough, [the chemistry’s] just kind of there,” Carter said. “We’ve been practicing together and skating together since the start of camp, so it doesn’t take long to come back.”
While Carter has primarily been used as a wing during his tenure in Los Angeles, he showed last spring that as a powerful skater and 200-foot player, he’s more than capable of contributing in all areas of the ice as a center.
But does he envision playing down the middle for an entire season?
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “We’re still in training camp. A lot of things can change. That’s up to Darryl and the coaches to see where everybody fits. Whatever happens, happens.”
— The Royal Half (@theroyalhalf) May 26, 2014
Tyler Toffoli, on rekindling the line’s chemistry:
It felt really good. The first couple exhibition games you don’t really feel the best, but I thought we were clicking right from the start.
Toffoli, on the line’s offensive zone time:
It felt really good. It feels good to put up a couple points and get your feet going again. It was a really short summer, so it kind of feels like I didn’t really miss a beat. You’ve just got to keep going and be ready to play Thursday and keep having a good couple games.
Toffoli, on whether he has a goal to increase his shorthanded usage this season:
I want to get as much ice time as I can. Whether that’s five-on-five, shorthanded, power play, I just want to increase my minutes any way that I can and be a big part of the team and the success and just work hard and play well every night.
Tanner Pearson, on rekindling the line’s chemistry:
Yeah, it kind of felt weird getting back at it already, but I think it’s good that we started off pretty good together, but you never know what the line’s going to end up being.
Pearson, on the offensive zone time and the line’s work down low:
Yeah, I think as a forward you always want to try to create offensive zone, and by that you want to be there as much as you can. I think we did a good job of that [Monday] night.
Jeff Carter, on his summer workout regimen:
I probably took a month off after the year and went four or five days a week. I don’t kill myself. We do enough work during the year and get a lot of skating in camp. I get what I need. I know what I need now. I’ve been around long enough, so it’s been working.
Jeff Carter, on whether there’s any fatigue after a heavy workload last year:
No, we had enough time off. I think guys are fresh. They’re excited to keep it going. We know what we’ve got here, so it’s exciting to get back out there.