We’re back at it tonight, Insiders! Welcome to Columbus for Game 3 of this Eastern Conference swing. We’ve got a 4:00 PM Pacific / 7:00 PM local time faceoff between the Kings and Blue Jackets here at Nationwide Arena in Ohio (FOX Sports West / FOX Sports App / LA Kings Audio Network). The Kings took the ice for a full-team skate this morning at 11:30, prior to tonight’s game, with the following lines through rushes.
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Leipsic – Carter – Luff
Scherbak – Kempe – Toffoli
Wagner – Amadio – Thompson
Fantenberg – Doughty
Muzzin – LaDue
Forbort – Walker – Brickley
Kings Vitals: Jonathan Quick left the ice first for the Kings and is projected to start in goal tonight. All time, Quick is 16-6-0 in 22 appearances against Columbus, with a 2.13 goals against average and a .914 save percentage – Quick has posted a .727 winning percentage in his career against the Blue Jackets. Daniel Brickley rotated through with Walker and Forbort during rushes, but was the lone extra on after practice today. More on Brickley below.
Red Wings Vitals: The Blue Jackets did not skate as a full group, but goaltender Joonas Korpisalo was on late with coaches and a couple of skaters, giving the assumption that Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net for Columbus. Bobrovsky is in the midst of a rare down year, with a .898 save percentage and a 3.14 goals against average, well below and above his career numbers, respectively. Via NHL.com’s Jeff Svoboda, here are the projected lines for Columbus.
Injury Updates: As Willie Desjardins noted yesterday, Dion Phaneuf has left the team and returned home to Los Angeles for further evaluation. On the other hand, defenseman Drew Doughty participated in today’s morning skate and all signs point towards remaining in the lineup tonight, not missing a game after he was out for the final ~42 minutes of Tuesday’s overtime loss in Buffalo. The 6-1 defenseman said after today’s morning skate that it was a team decision to hold him out of the end of the Sabres’ game, and that he felt it was the right one, but that he is “ready to go tonight”.
Doughty has played 360 consecutive regular-season games, a streak that dates back to the final four games of the 2013-14 regular season. Desjardins noted after today’s skate that Doughty looks “good to go” for tonight’s action.
“Obviously that’s two very important parts to this d-core,” defenseman Sean Walker said of the potential absence of Doughty and Phaneuf after yesterday’s practice. “Drew, being the world-class player that he is huge and we’re going to miss them both depending on if they’re coming back or not. Those are two guys that you really want to see in the lineup so hopefully they’re back as soon as possible.”
Paul LaDue is expected to check back into the lineup today, after sitting out on Tuesday in Buffalo. LaDue was in the lineup against Detroit on Monday, logging 12:41 time on ice and two shots on goal.
Also joining the d-corps is defenseman Daniel Brickley, who was recalled from Ontario on Wednesday. Brickley noted today that he was “playing Fortnite with a couple of guys on the team” when he got the call from Ontario General Manager Rich Seeley that he was being recalled by the Kings. Brickley said that while he knew it was a possibility when Phaneuf and Doughty went down, he wasn’t expecting anything.
“I was watching the [Kings-Sabres game] and I didn’t see it, but I heard the announcer say that Doughty and Phaneuf went down the tunnel,” Brickley said. “It was a thought in my head, but I didn’t really think much of it.”
Brickley has spent the first part of his rookie season in the AHL with the Reign, posting five points from his first 21 games played.
“I haven’t heard an awful lot about him, our numbers changed real quick and we just had Walker come up,” Desjardins said of Brickley following today’s morning skate. “I know from just talking to the guys that he’s a solid two-way guy. I think he can play good in his d-zone, just a solid defender.”
Drew Doughty on what it means to be in the lineup in every game on his consecutive games played streak
That’s been set but I’m not worried about [the streak]. I just want to be in the lineup and help my team. Being up 3-1 there in the game, I wanted nothing more but to be in that game and I think if I’m in that game I can help us get two points but the boys played unbelievable. They fought real hard, it was good for them to get the one [point] with four D. I’m not worried about streaks, I just want to be in the game because I’m a competitor and I want to help us win and I know I can help us win.
On whether he was in the room watching the end of the Buffalo game
Oh, for sure. It was obviously tough to watch, because I wanted to be out there, but the boys were competing, they were playing hard. We were down a lot of men and they took it to us in the third but I thought the guys played really hard and they competed. If you see that out of your team you’re happy. We got one point but we would’ve liked to have gotten two.
On other defensemen stepping into more prominent roles in his absense
Walks came up from the A and right away steps into a [high-minute] game, Fants had high minutes and Forbs and then Muzz, I thought had one of his best games I’ve ever seen him play. I already told him that, he played unbelievable for us and he stepped up as a leader. He just stepped up in that game and played awesome. Muzz gets under-looked I think a lot in this organization, he deserves a lot more credit than he gets, so I was really happy for him.
Willie Desjardins on the relief that Doughty’s injury wasn’t serious
For sure. He’s a big key on our team, logs a lot of minutes and, not just on the ice, but he’s a good leader too for us. It certainly is good for us that it was something quick.
On the job done by the four defensemen that finished Tuesday’s game
It was great and I talked about how sometimes it’s the opportunity for you to take your game to the next level. All those guys battled, it was a tough situation. Buffalo has a good team and you knew they were going to be coming hard, so it was a battle, but all those guys hung in there and played well for us.
On Adrian Kempe and his line’s play as of late
I think the line’s been good together. I think Kempe’s a good player, he’s a really good young player for us. I think Toffoli too, Tyler’s gone in on that line and it seems to be a good fit for the two of them and Scherbak’s come in and I’ve liked the way he’s played. I think the chemistry’s a good chemistry, I’d like to keep that line together, I’m hoping that they can gel and give us quite a bit. I like what I see and hopefully they can keep improving as they go.
Daniel Brickley on how things have gone so far this season in Ontario
It’s a developing league, maybe not as much structure as the NHL but I think we have a good team, pretty young, but it’s coming together.
On how things have gone for him personally from the start of the season to now
It always could be better, I feel alright with myself. I’m still trying to work on defensive positioning and being more shutdown, but it’s coming along.
On his biggest transition coming from the college game to the pro game
Probably just the strength of guys. A lot of guys going into college are true freshmen, 18 or 19 and you’re playing against men here. Anywhere from 18 to, who’s our oldest guy, Mouls? 30-something, guys that have been in the league, and they know how to play, they’re smart. It’s not the same as college where guys will just run around and try to kill you.
On whether making his NHL debut last season takes away some of the nerves when the time comes this season
Yeah definitely. I just want to see the team succeed and get rolling here. However I can help with that, I’m just trying to do so.