Good afternoon from Denver, where the Kings have returned to the team hotel. Lines and notes from today’s morning skate:
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Trevor Lewis
Dwight King – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dustin Brown – Jarret Stoll – Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford – Nick Shore – Andy Andreoff – Jordan Nolan
Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Matt Greene
Brayden McNabb – Jamie McBain
-If this alignment looks familiar, it’s because it’s the same one shown at the three previous morning skates. Andy Andreoff and Derek Forbort skated as extras and remained on for extra work with Martin Jones, so they’re not expected to play tonight. Jonathan Quick left the ice first and is expected to start in net for the 13th consecutive game.
-Tyler Toffoli said he just needed a “deep breath” after getting struck in the head with what he believed was Nikita Nesterov’s elbow in the 3-2 win over Tampa Bay on Monday. Looking at the replay, that’s elbow/forearm area, and Nesterov is fortunate that he didn’t receive a fine or any form of supplemental discipline, because that’s not really a hockey play. More importantly, Toffoli is fine; I’ll have a story up on him this afternoon.
-Alec Martinez is not on this trip. There are no updates at this time on Martinez, who suffered from “concussion-like symptoms” following a hit from Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette in a 4-2 win at Amalie Arena on February 7.
-Darryl Sutter did not make himself available to the media this morning, so no pre-game coach quotes today.
-I’m not sure if you caught the interview this morning, but when Nathan MacKinnon spoke about the three remaining games between the Kings and Avs, he said “I think it’s twice here, one in L.A. I wish it was two in L.A.” It’s not important, just an interesting take on where Los Angeles stands as a road city.
-Nick Shore is a Denver native and grew up an Avalanche fan. He played at Pepsi Center two exhibition seasons ago, but this will be his first real game in front of family and friends in his hometown. Surprise! There will be a Shore story today.
-Speaking of stories, here is my feature on the precautions taken by Kings and other NHL teams to protect themselves from skate cuts. It’s called SKATE AWAY, and there are some interesting revelations from Head Equipment Manager Darren Granger. Give it a read.
-Semyon Varlamov will make his 14th consecutive start in goal for Colorado, while Daniel Briere and Stefan Elliott are expected to be scratched, per Mike Chambers of the Denver Post.