Good morning from Honda Center, Insiders. Several notes to pass along from the Kings and Ducks morning skates:
-In El Segundo, where Los Angeles skated, correspondence confirmed that Jonathan Quick left the ice first and will be expected to draw the start against Anaheim. Original rushes, according to Curtis Zupke of the LA Times, indicated that Oscar Fantenberg could potentially replace Christian Folin in the lineup. Should that come to fruition, expect forward lines of Iafallo-Kopitar-Brown, Pearson-Kempe-Toffoli, Cammalleri-Shore-Lewis and Andreoff-Laich-Amadio, and defensive pairings of Forbort-Doughty, Muzzin-Martinez and MacDermid-Fantenberg.
-Marian Gaborik, who had been skating on his own, rejoined his teammates for a skate for the first time since training camp. This represents progress, but there is still no timetable on his return. We’ll continue to monitor him.
-Do the Ducks expect different looks from the Kings? Is game planning for L.A. any different, given the team’s added emphasis on integrating defenders into the attack and looking to generate scoring chances from the center of the ice? Maybe so, maybe not. “I think there’s a lot of similarities, but I think they’ve asked some people to change a little bit more,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “I think that their back end is much more mobile and involved than they historically have been. I don’t think they’ve changed their forecheck dramatically. They’re a big, heavy team. They like to dump the puck and they like to forecheck. They like to come up with it. I think their special teams have been a real difference-maker for them, and a healthy Jonathan Quick.”
I asked Carlyle about Quick, and whether as an opposing coach he senses any difference in the team’s play when he’s not available, as was the case for three of the teams’ five meetings last season. He shared the big e-word in response. “I just think the quality of player, it doesn’t matter if you’re a goaltender, a center, a defenseman. Good players always help your lineup and complement the players you have, and obviously Jonathan Quick has proven himself that he’s an elite-level goalie in the league,” Carlyle said.
-The biggest news on the day comes from the team down south. Ryan Getzlaf underwent surgery yesterday to repair a fracture to his zygomatic bone – located underneath his cheek – and will be out for up to two months. With Ryan Kesler also unavailable due to off-season hip surgery, that means the Ducks will line up with Derek Grant, Chris Wagner, Antoine Vermette and Dennis Rasmussen down the middle. Los Angeles’ center depth has also been tested with Jeff Carter out, but Adrian Kempe has emerged as a threat, and of course there’s Anze Kopitar, who has 61 points (22-39=61) in 59 career games against the Ducks. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us,” General Manager Bob Murray said during Anaheim’s morning skate. The Ducks are going to get by with what they’ve got at the moment, utilizing a committee-based approach to filling in for their injured players in Getzlaf, Kesler, Patrick Eaves (Guillain-Barré syndrome) and Cam Fowler (knee). If the team was ever shocked by the number of injuries it has dealt with, it has moved past it. That was a a mental challenge early in the season, but right now the team employs a next-man up approach. “I think that’s all over with,” Carlyle said. “I think our group has moved on from that.” John Gibson left the ice first and is expected to draw the start against the Kings.
-Some prospect news that tangentially affects Los Angeles: Edmonton first round draft pick Kailer Yamamoto, a former L.A. Junior King, has been returned to the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs after totaling three assists and a minus-two rating through nine games with the Oilers. Yamamoto, who had 42 goals and 99 points last season, will add some extra offensive punch to a Chiefs team that has opened the year 8-7-1-2 but was expected to be a U.S. Division contender with the provision that Yamamoto would be returned. Even without Yamamoto, 2017 second round draft pick Jaret Anderson-Dolan has gotten off to a solid start, both based off his primary statistics – he has six goals and 17 points through his first 16 games – and what I’ve heard from both inside and outside the organization. The Kings had a representative from their development staff in Spokane over the weekend to watch Anderson-Dolan, and I plan on checking in with him this week as part of an update on several prospects.
-Tonight’s game will be broadcast on NBCSN at 7:00 p.m., with Alex Faust providing play-by-play and Brian Hayward serving as the color commentator. Tonights officials are referees Dave Jackson and Brad Watson, and linesmen Michel Cormier and Shane Heyer. Again, I’ll have live hits on the NHL Network at 1:10, 2:15 and 3:30 p.m. PT, as well as one-on-one interviews with Trevor Lewis and several Ducks players throughout the NHL Now and NHL Tonight broadcasts. Let’s talk soon, Insiders.