Good afternoon from Calgary, Insiders. The Kings held a morning skate in advance of their game against the Flames (6:00 p.m. PT / FOX Sports West / FOX Sports GO / FUBO TV / KABC 790 / I Heart Radio), and a good time was had by all. They aligned thusly:
-The vitals: Jonathan Quick was the first goaltender off the ice and is expected to start in net against Calgary. He’s 13-7-5 with a 1.84 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage and three shutouts in his career against the Flames. Alex Iafallo, Jonny Brodzinski and Kevin Gravel remained on the ice for extra work with Darcy Kuemper, so they’re likely out. Christian Folin (upper-body/IR) is very close to a return, but whether that happens before the bye week is TBD.
-Their vitals: There’s a bug going through the Calgary room, which has led to some questions about tonight’s lineup. Mikael Backlund, Micheal Ferland and Jaromir Jagr were all given maintenance days yesterday. “You’re missing the most key guy,” coach Glen Gulutzan said after Wednesday’s practice. “[Assistant Coach] Dave Cameron was out today, too, and I don’t think anyone noticed that. I would expect better reporting than to realize that Dave Cameron was not on the ice today, so you can figure out what’s going on in our locker room if Dave Cameron’s not here today. We think we’ll be better [Thursday].” Pat Steinberg shared a tentative lineup while also noting that there would be some game-time decisions. The template to start with appears to be Gaudreau-Monahan-Ferland, Tkachuk-Backlund-Brouwer, Bennett-Jankowski-Hathaway and Lazar-Stajan-Mangiapane up front, with potential defensive pairings of Giordano-Hamilton, Brodie-Hamonic and Kulak-Stone. Mike Smith is expected to start in goal. He’s 16-8-1 with a 2.26 goals-against average, a .931 save percentage and two shutouts against Los Angeles in his career.
Gulutzan suggests Lazar in tonight and he will have an update on Jagr tomorrow. Starting to wonder if the update might suggest the “experiment” may soon come to an end. Just wondering. #Flames
— Roger Millions (@RogMillions) January 4, 2018
The other thing on Jagr is his body. Groin muscle, knee issues. Could be as simple as surgery or prolonged rehab. #Flames
— Roger Millions (@RogMillions) January 4, 2018
Be well, hockey prince.
-Andy Andreoff was a supporting actor the last time the Kings and Flames met at Scotiabank Saddledome. He exchanged some pleasantries with Troy Brouwer at center ice as the terms were set for that night’s belligerence, and was already in the penalty box when Jarome Iginla fought Deryk Engelland in probably the most memorable scrap since Captain Fight, 2012. Ultimately, Andreoff was shown the gate for good in the second period in the emotional outing.
Tonight marks his first game back at the Saddledome, and he’s coming off a strong springboard into tonight, having scored his second goal of the season in Tuesday’s 5-0 win at Edmonton as part of a performance in which he thought his line was good both in the defensive zone and in moving pucks out of it.
“We got the transition going again, pucks deep,” he said. “We had a couple chances right at the start of the game, which kind of gave us a little confidence and momentum, so I think that’s what made us get that goal.”
It was the right type of segue into what should be another emotionally charged divisional affair that Andreoff likened to a playoff game. Los Angeles is 2-1-1 in a five-game divisional stretch that concludes tonight in Calgary.
“We obviously know what happened last year with the rivalry – a couple tough games,” Andreoff said. “The division games are always tight. A lot of energy going around. We’ve just got to come out strong in the first five minutes. These next four points before the break are huge, so hopefully we can get them.”
-Having mentioned it, why not throw it out there again?
-Captains for the All-Star Game are Connor McDavid (Pacific), P.K. Subban (Central), Alex Ovechkin (Metropolitan) and Steven Stamkos (Atlantic). The remaining All-Stars will be announced by NHL Hockey Operations on January 10. There are 10 per team, which includes two goalies, and each team must be represented by at least one player. That creates a log jam in the eight-team Pacific. With that in mind, who gets Los Angeles’ nod(s), Insiders?
— NHL (@NHL) January 4, 2018
-The NHL All-Star Game takes place at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. at 12:30 p.m. PT on January 28 and will be televised by NBC. The 2018 AHL All-Star Classic, however, will take place on Sunday, January 29, and will be held at Utica Memorial Auditorium, because who can’t get enough of Utica, right?
It was announced today that goalie Cal Petersen and center Brett Sutter were the Ontario Reign players named to the Pacific Division’s team. There’s a chance that another player or two could be named as a sub; Andrew Mangiapane, named to the Pacific team as a member of the Stockton Heat, is currently up with the Flames.
-Tonight is Game 41, marking the midway point of the season. The Kings are 24-11-5 despite getting only six games out of Jeff Carter, an extended swath of resilience that Drew Doughty thinks has been “pretty cool.”
“Obviously without Carts in the lineup you expect to score less goals, your power play’s probably not going to be as good, stuff like that, but other guys have stepped up to the plate,” he said. “Kempe’s been playing really well for us. Shore’s been playing really well for us. A lot of people don’t realize how good Shoresy is. You have to have a really good hockey IQ to understand how good of a player that kid is. And, obviously on the fourth line with Mitchie, having him there at center, too, I think our centers have done a good job of stepping in for Carts and playing great for us. We miss Carts a lot, and we can’t wait to get him back, but like I said, everyone’s done a great job of stepping up to the plate.”
-So, yeah, Doughty-Tkachuk. The last time these teams met was October 11, a 4-3 Calgary overtime win in which Dustin Brown scored two early third period goals to take the lead but lost after Tkachuk tied the game midway through the third period and Sean Monahan buried an overtime game-winner. There was also a third period penalty box shouting match between the two.
Since then, peace and calm across the National Hockey League.
“I’m sure it won’t take long to get it back,” Doughty said. “All it’s going to take is one big hit and something big to happen right off the bat, which it probably will. Emotions will be running again, but we’re not looking to kind of get into that dirty stuff and whatnot. We’re just looking to go out there and play LA Kings hockey. Play physical, play hard and out work them and win a hockey game that way.”
Doughty’s an emotional player. Related: water is wet. He enjoys playing with an added emotion, provided it’s channeled correctly.
“Obviously I’m probably our biggest emotional leader when it comes to that type of stuff, and I enjoy the altercations on the ice,” he said. “It fires me up when things are going like that, and I feel like I do play better.”
No real disagreement here, but Jonathan Quick is also up there on the emotional leaderboards (which to this point is still not measurable by neutrinos, darn it). So, who’s more competitive, Doughty or Quick?
“That’s tough,” Doughty answered. “I’m going to say me, because you’re talking to me, and not that the other guys aren’t competitive, but he’s the one guy that I have met, and maybe one of the only guys that I have met that’s kind of level with me on the competitive spirit type of things.”
“He does let it out, but he’s in a more private way, whereas I don’t care who’s watching me. I just let it out. He’ll kind of do it in the room or coming off the ice or something like that, whereas I don’t care if I’m on the ice or where I am, ill just let it out, so that’s the difference, I think. Obviously, I think sometimes I lose it a little too much on the ice and I probably shouldn’t, so I should maybe learn a little bit from him, but I don’t think without us two with that competitive spirit that we would be as good as we are.”
There are, of course, times and places to unleash such emotion.
“I would like to fix when I lose it on the refs, but I’ve been a lot better at that, 100%,” Doughty continued. “I could still be a lot better though, 100% too, but. I think the guys on the team, sometimes they’ve got to tell me, ‘Dewey, settle down,’ or whatever. But I think they like how competitive I am. I think they feed off it a little bit. I think they get some good laughs out of it sometimes, too.”
-LA Kings Weekly follows tonight’s LA Kings Live post-game coverage and will feature stories on the video coaches, New Year’s resolutions, an NHL 18 tournament between Tyler Toffoli, Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford and Bailey, and a lot more. It’s hosted by Carrlyn Bathe. A preview:
-Wes McCauley didn’t get an opportunity to liven up the crowd in Edmonton, but he’ll be back officiating tonight’s game along with Jon McIsaac. Linesmen are Derek Amell and Trent Knorr. I’ll be joined by Dave Lowry and Derek Forbort in the LA Kings Live pre-game show on FSW. Let’s talk soon, Insiders.
— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) January 4, 2018