December 31 morning skate notes - LA Kings Insider

Good morning from drizzly El Segundo, where the Kings have finished up team meetings and are leaving the facility following the morning skate. After a Friday spent bereft of skating, the team reconvened on the ice shortly before 10:00 a.m. and aligned as such:



-Peter Budaj was the first goaltender to leave the ice and is expected to start against San Jose. Matt Greene came off with the main group, so don’t be surprised if you see him in warm-ups with the chance he could play if someone else doesn’t go. Tom Gilbert and Andy Andreoff remained on the ice for extra work with Jeff Zatkoff and aren’t expected to play tonight.

-Prior to tonight’s game – the third New Year’s Eve home game in franchise history, following a loss to Vancouver in 1991 and a win over the Canucks in 2011 – the Kings will honor the Miracle on Manchester goal scorers as part of a special Legends Night reunion that replaces the ceremony that had been planned to honor Ziggy Palffy, who was unable to travel to Los Angeles.

Miracle on Manchester goal scorers Jay Wellls, Doug Smith, Charlie Simmer, Steve Bozek and Daryl Evans will be honored before the game, though Mark Hardy, a Tucson Roadrunners assistant coach, will be unable to attend.

Evans, who put a bow on the largest comeback in Stanley Cup Playoff history, described his famous celebration of the overtime game-winner.

“I didn’t even see it for a lot of years, but, yeah, it was kind of like, ‘What the heck was I doing?’[It was] a what was going through my head-type of thing,” he said. “I think that just goes to show the emotion at that particular time. Some guys, they have – I don’t want to say premeditated – but they have stuff that they go through if they score, this or that. I was never anybody to do any of that kind of stuff when I was growing up, but whatever happened that particular night, it was spur of the moment, just the emotion coming out. Thank God there were end boards at the end of the rink, otherwise I might still be skating. I’d be huffing and puffing now, though. I wouldn’t get quite as far.”

In addition to the ceremony, there will be a special pyrotechnics show following the game.

-San Jose is likely to be without Tomas Hertl, who has been sidelined the past 19 games with a knee injury, as well as versatile defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who took a puck to the face late in last night’s 2-0 win over Philadelphia.

From Kevin Kurz of

Despite leading 2-0 in the final minute, the Sharks went all out to preserve the shutout for their teammate in net. The Flyers pulled goalie Anthony Stolarz and got set up in the offensive zone, when a Shayne Gostisbehere slap shot deflected up into the face of Vlasic, who was protecting the crease.

The defenseman took several moments to get to his skates, and was eventually helped to the dressing room. DeBoer, who said that Vlasic was unlikely to play in Los Angeles on Saturday, offered the following update after the game:

“As bad as it looked and as bad as it probably is, I’ve got my fingers crossed. The initial reports are that I don’t believe it’s that serious, so that’s good,” he said.

San Jose has been boosted by some of the youth (and production) from Kevin Labanc, who scored against Los Angeles diuring the team’s previous meeting on November 30, and the ninth overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, Timo Meier, a well-built 20-year-old who has one goal in his first six NHL games. Of course, they still have Joe Pavelski (34 points in 36 games), Joe Thornton (24 points in 36 games), Logan Couture (23 points in 36 games) and Brent Burns (34 points in 36 games), allowing Martin Jones (2.08 goals-against average, .920 save percentage) to win 19 games in a season in which the Sharks have scored only two more goals than the Kings but rank fourth in the league with 77 goals allowed. (L.A. ranks sixth.)

“They run pretty deep,” Darryl Sutter said. “They’re the best team in our division, that’s clear. There’s three teams that have won twice as many as they’ve lost in the conference, and there’s a pile of teams that are .500 to a handful over, so you know what? We’ve got our work cut out. They’re a top team.”

-I’ll have Sutter quotes coming down the pike in a little bit, followed by a story on Derek Forbort’s ability to get shots through from the point and some of Evans’ Miracle on Manchester recollections. Happy New Year, Insiders. Let’s talk soon.

Morning skate photos, courtesy of Jon Bradley:

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

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


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.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

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


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.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

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


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.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

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


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.