Good afternoon from Buffalo, where the snow is just beginning to come down a little bit. Inside, KeyBank Arena (née Marine Midland Arena, HSBC Arena and First Niagara Center) wasn’t much warmer. Among the topics discussed by reporters while waiting for the Kings’ dressing room to open was that the Sabres’ home rink is among the very coldest buildings in the league — not that Staples Center is exactly the San Fernando Valley on a summer day.

Lines and pairings!

Gaborik-Kopitar-Lewis
King-Carter-Toffoli
Pearson-Shore-Brown
Clifford-Andreoff-Nolan
Dowd-Setoguchi

Forbort-Doughty
Muzzin-Martinez
Gravel-Greene
Gilbert

-There was some tinkering to the Kings’ forward lines. Dwight King reunites with That Other 70’s Line, while Tanner Pearson moves alongside Nick Shore and Dustin Brown. Kyle Clifford is expected to jump back into the lineup to skate alongside Andy Andreoff and Jordan Nolan, which leaves Nic Dowd and Devin Setoguchi as tonight’s projected scratches. No changes are expected on defense, where Tom Gilbert remains the odd-man out. Peter Budaj left the ice first during the morning skate and is expected to draw the start in net.

-Drew Doughty, who left practice early on Sunday one day after an awkward fall near Los Angeles’ net during Saturday’s game against Ottawa, is ready to play. He called his injury “something minor” and noted “it’s just good to get one practice off and get ready for today.” Doughty declined to go into specifics of the nature of the injury but said “it was literally just something small but, yeah, I kind of did the splits and … there’s no point with me really going on the ice with two days in between games, so yeah, I feel good, ready to go.” Quell alarums.

-As you’re most likely aware, Anze Kopitar hasn’t been scoring goals. He last scored in the second period of the 3-2 overtime win over Columbus on October 25 but has endured a dry spell in the 16 games since then. Is he still getting good chances? “The last couple games there were not a whole lot of chances, but before that I’ve hit a couple posts here and there, so I wouldn’t say I’m getting a ton of chances, but I’m also not just floating around,” he said, “Usually just go with the hot hand, so [I’ll] give it to Lewy again.” While Kopitar hitting posts is probably a legitimate thing, he also ranks 10th on the team in individual shots per 60 minutes of five-on-five play with 5.4. (Marian Gaborik leads with 13.6, followed by Jeff Carter at 10.6 and Tyler Toffoli at 10.5)

-It’s always interesting to hear opposing coaches and players talk about what they see in Los Angeles, and this is from former King Dan Bylsma: “I think the Kings have a good understanding, a good sense of what they need to do to win hockey games and how they need to play, and they stick with that through thick and thin. They haven’t scored a lot of goals, either, and I think some people talk about them needing to score more goals, but they don’t approach the game that way. They’re going to defend and they’re going to play a hard checking game, and they’re going to play that for 60 minutes, and that’s where they’ve had success, that’s what they do well, and that’s what they’re going to continue to do. They’ve had some injuries. They’ve had the goaltender out. They’re not pressing to play a different way. They’re going to play that hard checking game, they’re going to limit your opportunities and play the game the right way, and that’s what they’re going to keep doing, and that’s where they have had success.”

-I asked Bylsma about the evolution of Rasmus Ristolainen, who ranks fifth in the league with an average time on ice of 26:49. Not surprisingly, the minutes he plays factored into his answer. “I don’t think there’s any other way to talk about his game without him just being a horse, a hard guy to play against,” Bylsma said. “He can skate, he can play physical, he can use both of those attributes to defend. I think the evolution of his game is on the offensive side with his puck distribution and being a main guy, the top guy on our power play. That’s been a little bit of the evolution. He squeezed his stick with not being able to get a goal, not scoring a goal, but he’s still providing the assists, he’s still providing the puck movement on the power play that we need, and that’s kind of where his game is evolving even a little bit more from last year.”

-Robin Lehner, who is 1-6-3 in his last 10 starts despite having played well over that time, will draw the start for Buffalo. The Sabres have received quality goaltending for the second straight year and are tied for sixth in the league with a.921 save percentage. The issue has been goal scoring; Buffalo ranks 30th in the league with an average of 2.04 goals per game. They’ll stack their top line tonight with Jack Eichel centering Evander Kane and Kyle Okposo, the latter of whom is expected to play after becoming ill over the weekend. Former King Matt Moulson, who has seven of the Sabres’ 56 goals, is likely to see a fourth line roll and could play alongside former L.A. farmhand Nic Deslauriers, though the physical, burly Deslauriers is likely a game-time decision, along with Derek Grant.

-Buffalo hasn’t lost at home to Los Angeles since February 21, 2003, a game in which Ziggy Palffy and Bryan Smolinski each scored twice and Jamie Storr allowed one goal on 32 shots. Ryan Miller and Brian Campbell are the only players from that game who remain in the league.

-Darryl Sutter quotes are up next, followed by my seemingly annual The Kings Have Trouble In Buffalo story. If you’re near a TV, I’ll also be reporting from the penalty box on the NHL Network’s Arena Cam at 1:50 p.m. PT. Enjoy your Tuesday, Insiders. Let’s talk soon.

I would love to be privy to this conversation.

A photo posted by Jon Rosen (@lakinsider) on

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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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