Good afternoon from downtown Detroit, where the Kings skated at Joe Louis Arena earlier this morning. Per both Darryl Sutter and Drew Doughty, it was an optional team skate, though Doughty was the only player not to take the ice. “It’s optional. I told them all to go, they bitched. I told them none of them had to go, so they all go,” Darryl Sutter said amidst a few chuckles from the assembled media.
Still, Doughty is among those on the Kings who is banged up and playing through a few dings and scrapes. For Doughty, this is largely related to an awkward tumble he took during Saturday’s game against Ottawa. Helene Elliott and I spoke with Dean Lombardi yesterday about the list of walking wounded, and it extends beyond those who spent time on IR.
“…I had the IR list and you guys don’t see it, but we had 10 guys on there for a while, so it’s not only the guys who are out but really knocked up, but we’ve kind of gotten through that,” Lombardi said. He also later said, “I think, for the most part, we’re OK,” meaning that the team has gotten through the worst of the glut of injuries.
Doughty, by the way, might not be among those who will miss Joe Louis Arena. He saw a Red Wings game here when he was growing up in London, Ontario, but doesn’t feel as though he’s played his best hockey in Detroit. “To be honest, my memory of this arena is usually a minus-two, minus-three night when Lidstrom and Datsyuk and Zetterberg, Holmstrom, they had all those players. My memories aren’t amazing when I’m actually in the game here, so I’m actually a little bit happy that it’s going to be gone.”
There were no line rushes during today’s skate, but Jeff Zatkoff left the ice first and should be expected to start in his hometown; he’ll have family and support in attendance. Peter Budaj remained on the ice for extra work with Kevin Gravel, Devin Setoguchi and Andy Andreoff, so there could be some changes on the back end as well, and given that L.A. could have three right-handed shots in the lineup tonight in Doughty, Tom Gilbert and Matt Greene, there’s a chance that the Muzzin-Martinez pairing could be scrapped. There could be a bit more experience in tonight’s lineup.
As for the offensive lines, yesterday Los Angeles showed Pearson-Kopitar-Lewis, King-Carter-Toffoli, Gaborik-Dowd-Brown, Clifford-Shore-Nolan as their first rotations up front.
Jimmy Howard, who is 5-6-1 with a 1.86 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage will start in net for Detroit, while Jonathan Ericsson is expected to return to the lineup after missing three games with back spasms. Alexey Marchenko (shoulder) remains out, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com, while Justin Abdelkader (MCL sprain), Darren Helm (shoulder) and Brendan Smith (knee) are among those who remain out.
I’ll have a lot more to come today, Insiders, including Darryl Sutter quotes and some great memories from the Southeast Michiganders of playing and attending games at the Joe. If you’re at your computer right now, click here to catch my interview with Rick Ralph of TSN 1290 Winnipeg, which is coming up at 10:30 a.m. PT. Let’s talk soon, Insiders.