Good afternoon from El Segundo, Insiders. The Kings face the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center tonight (7:30 p.m. / NBCSN / KABC 790 / I Heart Radio) and aligned at their morning skate thusly:
-The only change to the lines and pairings appears to be Matt Greene rotating in for Tom Gilbert. Greene took the first rush alongside Kevin Gravel, while Gilbert remained on the ice for extra work with Andy Andreoff (who has not yet been activated), Kyle Clifford, Teddy Purcell and Jeff Zatkoff; Brayden McNabb joined late and handled pucks at the other end of the ice. Peter Budaj left the ice first at the morning skate and is expected to draw the start, which would be his 21st consecutive appearance in net (21 GP; 19 GS).
-Some impressive streaks: Dustin Brown is expected to play his 200th consecutive game tonight. The Kings’ record for consecutive games played is 330, set by Anze Kopitar between March 21, 2007 and March 26, 2011. Meanwhile, on the other bench, Jimminy Jillickers: Patrick Marleau is expected to play his 566th consecutive game, Joe Pavelski his 438th and Brent Burns his 249th.
-Per QuantHockey.com, the Kings and Sharks are two of the six oldest teams in the league. There’s really not much difference between the “younger” and “older” teams in the league, according to Darryl Sutter, who noted that the discrepancies are often tied to having an extra 36-year-old on the roster, or, on the other end of the spectrum, an extra 19 or 20-year-old. What matters more than age is experience. “Hey, if they’re experienced and won, [that’s good,] right?” Sutter said. “But when those 19-year-olds come in, then the question is, ‘well, how do you stop those great young 19-year-olds?’ Hey, winning experience. Those 19-year-olds haven’t won. They haven’t experienced winning at this level.”
-San Jose enters tonight’s game having defeated Arizona 2-1 in overtime last night at the SAP Center. Martin Jones drew the start and stopped 18 of 19 shots – Mike Smith was much busier at the other end – but should get the nod on the second night of the back-to-back. No other lineup changes are expected, so Tommy Wingels (undisclosed injury), Matt Nieto and Dylan DeMelo are projected as scratches. Tomas Hertl remains out with a knee injury. San Jose is 4-1-0 in its last five games, with a one-goal, home loss to Anaheim on November 26 disrupting their recent stretch of results. While the Kings are rested, the Sharks are nearing the end of a stretch of five games in eight days and 10 games in 18 days.
-Instead of an actual Darryl Sutter quotes post, I’ll work several of his quotes into a pair of stories. One will feature the Kings’ play at home; the other will surround trying to limit Joe Pavelski. Obviously Brent Burns is a catalyst for San Jose’s offensive production, too, and his shots aren’t always directed on net. Given Pavelski’s stellar play around the net in cashing in on tips, screens, rebounds and second chances, Burns is often looking for sticks and caroms off the end boards. “[Burns] may be the premier, next to [Shea] Weber, power play shooter,” Sutter said.
-Look for me as an NHL Network correspondent this afternoon; I’ll have a pair of hits at 2:10 and 4:30 p.m. PT. As for tonight’s NBCSN broadcast, Randy Hahn will provide the play-by-play and Jim Fox will serve as the color commentator. Let’s talk soon, Insiders.