Good evening from Nashville, Insiders. The Kings practiced at Bridgestone Arena at 1:30 p.m. and aligned thusly:
-Jonathan Quick (IR/undisclosed) and Darcy Kuemper were the only two goalies on the ice. Nothing’s official at this point, but the expectation is that Jack Campbell will officially be assigned back to Ontario tomorrow, and that either Kuemper or Quick will start against the Predators. The team is likely waiting to make sure that Quick is able to get through tomorrow’s morning skate, but Quick has been a regular participant in each of the last three practices, and there’s not any nail biting that Quick might not get through the skate tomorrow. Per the team, Campbell would not have to clear waivers to be assigned to Ontario.
-It’s a bit murkier on Nick Shore (lower-body), Derek Forbort (upper-body) and Marian Gaborik (undisclosed), and gut instinct tells me that if anyone enters into tomorrow’s game, it’s Gaborik, but even that might not be a safe bet. “I’ll get an update today, see how they responded to today’s workout. Full participants today, so we’re hoping that they’re closer to returning,” John Stevens said about Forbort and Shore. When asked if Gaborik was in the same boat, he responded affirmatively. The team’s also coming off a thorough 60-minute effort, so it’s not as if there’s an impetus for change. Today’s Carter update is available here.
-Defensive pairings rotated throughout the afternoon, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see a continuation of what had been used against Calgary and Dallas.
–Great stuff from Lisa Dillman on Alec Martinez, who took his final college exam the night before the game at San Jose on December 23 to complete his Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree from Miami University. It was the fulfillment of an undertaking he had promised his parents and surprised them with over the Christmas break.
–Mike Fisher is coming out of retirement for the Predators, but there are still quite a few conditioning and acclimation hurdles he’ll have to clear before he returns for the team’s stretch run. (In other words, he won’t play tomorrow.) Tomorrow is Los Angeles’ third and final game against Nashville; they’re 0-1-1 thus far. It’s not as if Fisher is a 20-minute game-changing superstar, but the Preds, who are tied with the Blues for the third-most points in the conference with 65, have one game remaining against playoff hopefuls Anaheim, Calgary and Dallas, and two remaining against Minnesota, San Jose and Colorado.
Anze Kopitar, on how his line’s performance Tuesday night looked at ice level:
Obviously, their line has been a high-production line. We pretty much know their tendencies, so you try to avoid making mistakes that would fuel that. I think we were really responsible. I think everything they had, they had to go through us, and we were pretty good on the defensive side of things. When opportunities presented themselves, I thought we took it to ‘em pretty well. I thought we had some really good shifts in the offensive zone, and that’s how we kind of play against top lines.
Kopitar, on what goes into constructing a full-team emotional and competitive effort:
Well, I think we’ve had that for the past two games now. I think it was a really gutsy effort, even before the break in Calgary. We all felt that obviously the game in Vancouver was an embarrassment, and we wanted to come out in Calgary, and even though we got it in OT, it was still points in our bank, so that was huge. Always out of the break usually starts with a game going a long way, and we had a good start and then we just kept rolling from there.
Kopitar, on the tendencies for teams to match top lines against top lines:
Yeah, it’s been going on for what, the past five or six years now. We’ve been going top line against the top line. It’s fun. It’s a challenge that you have to have some fun with it. Obviously, you play hard, and you try to do your best, but it’s a good match-up usually, and you just kind of want to stick with it and play your game and outplay the other guy.
Kopitar, on being split up from Dustin Brown:
Yeah, I talked to Johnny, and I don’t know if Johnny talked to you guys about it, but he just wanted to level out the playing field a little bit and split us up. It’s been working so far. I don’t know how long Jeff’s going to be out, but I think until then, we might be split up. But we’re going good right now, and Brownie’s obviously been a really good player for us. I thought he had a really strong game last night, and if we want to keep on winning games, we’re going to need the efforts from everybody, just like it was last night.
-Lead photo via Len Redkoles/NHLI