Good morning from El Segundo, Insiders. Notes!
-The Kings either did not hold actual line rushes, or skated through them prior to my 10:02 arrival, but yesterday’s lines are likely to hold up. Nic Dowd remained on the ice with Jonathan Quick – more on that in a moment – so the forward lines should remain Iafallo-Kopitar-Brown, Pearson-Kempe-Toffoli, Cammalleri-Shore-Lewis and Andreoff-Laich-Amadio. None of the MacDermid/Folin/Fantenberg trio remained on for extra work, so there could be blue line decisions made closer to warm-ups. Against Toronto on Thursday, Los Angeles iced Forbort-Doughty, Muzzin-Martinez and MacDermid-Fantenberg on the back end. There’s a possibility Folin could re-enter, but again, that’s a determination that’ll be made closer to 7:30.
-Darcy Kuemper left the ice first and is expected to draw the start in net versus Nashville. Compare his statistics (3-1-0 / 2.30 / .917) versus the Predators to Jonathan Quick’s (5-8-2 / 2.78 / .895), and it would be easy to assume that history played a significant role in today’s goaltending decision. We don’t assume things, though. We ask questions. The well-prepared Stevens looks at “everything,” unsurprisingly, and sat down with Goaltending Coach Bill Ranford over the summer to get a sense of how and when starters and back-ups are used across the league. “We tried to study other teams – when they put their back-up in, when was the right time to do it,” he said. “We’ve got records against opponents, we’ve got coming off long trips, traveling east, first game of a trip, performance in afternoon games, back-to-back performances, upcoming schedule. We’re paying attention to what their energy looks like in practice. So there’s a lot of things that go in there, but at the end of the day, it’s just a feel where you try to do what’s right for the hockey team. You only have two goalies, but they’re still members of your hockey team and they’re both guys that are productive and need to be counted on. It’s like a fourth line guy that only plays eight minutes. It can be a really valuable eight minutes. Where your back-up goalie might play 15 or 20 games, as we found out in the past, those can be critical games for your hockey team.” Pekka Rinne, who is 11-7-5 with a 2.84 goals-against average and an .896 save percentage in 23 career games versus Los Angeles, stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 win at Anaheim last night, and coupled with the fact that Nashville is playing its third road game in four nights, there is the raised possibility that Los Angeles faces Juuse Saros tonight. The highly touted Preds prospect has struggled in his three starts to begin the year but has never faced the Kings through his first 25 NHL games.
-It’s Tiger Williams’ Legends Night. In his bio, just below the notes that he coined Luc Robitaille’s “Lucky” nickname and is the all-time NHL penalty minutes leader with 3,971, is the observation that he had a special relationship with Nick Nickson.
As part of “Getting Nick Night,” he claims to be saving money having joined Los Angeles because he didn’t have to buy his wife a winter coat.
After joining the Hartford Whalers, he shares that things are going “not very well, Nicholas.”
And, in a great post-retirement interview with Randy Hahn, he said that he was in Los Angeles “to get some of Nick Nickson’s hair.”
There’s more. Here’s a Bob Miller and Nickson-narrated 1987 line brawl with Winnipeg in which he goes after goaltender Steve Penney. He collided with teammate Mike Bossy during the 1981 All-Star Game at The Forum. With the Maple Leafs, he withstood several Billy Smith slashes and traded a few blows with the Isles’ Hall of Fame goalie. He went after Esa Tikkanen. I can keep going. The linesmen struggled to contain a heavyweight bout with Jay Wells at the Forum while he was a Canuck. Cam Neely. How many tabs am I going to open? YouTube is excellent for Tiger Williams highlights. He could play, too. Williams totaled 40 goals and 90 points over 162 regular season games with Los Angeles.
-More to come shortly, including John Stevens quotes and an interesting story on Michael Cammalleri. “I think he’s made good adjustments at his game to be a real responsible player,” Stevens said after praising his play without the puck and willingness to be a “team player.” Tonight’s officials are referees Graham Skilliter and Jake Brenk and linesmen Mark Shewchyk and Vaughan Rody. Elliot Yemin will sing the national anthem. Let’s talk soon, Insiders.
Wishing Dustin Brown the best birthday! 🎉 pic.twitter.com/BXM4EKYLJO
— LA Kings (@LAKings) November 4, 2017
-Lead photo via Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images