While speaking with media prior to the game against the New Jersey Devils, LA Kings head coach Willie Desjardins shared that Jeff Carter, who did not return to action after suffering a lower-body injury late in the second period during Monday’s 4-3 overtime win over the New York Rangers, would not play Tuesday night.
“He’s not a go. We’ll have to just kind of monitor as we go,” Desjardins said. “One day back, it’s hard to say exactly how quick it’ll settle down.”
Desjardins acknowledged that there could be an opportunity for Carter to return on the road trip, which continues Thursday in Philadelphia before games in Boston and Washington on Saturday and Monday.
“Oh yeah, I think there is [optimism he could return],” he said. “I think there’s a chance. Saying that, it wasn’t that he was close tonight.”
Desjardins confirmed that Nate Thompson, who was ill and missed the first two games of the trip, would return to the lineup in Carter’s absence. Thompson was close to playing Monday, but Desjardins was hesitant to quickly reinsert the center into the lineup after skating through one practice after joining the team out east.
Tuesday’s game is the third game in four nights after an 11-day mid-season hiatus.
Keith Kincaid will start for New Jersey, who will be without defensemen Sami Vatanen (concussion) and Ben Lovejoy (upper-body) and forwards Taylor Hall (lower-body), Stefan Noesen (lower-body) and Joey Anderson (broken ankle), all of whom are on injured reserve. Kinkaid is 4-0-0 in five career starts against Los Angeles with a 0.85 goals-against average, a .970 save percentage and two shutouts.
Willie Desjardins, on whether it was a “bonus” to get strong shifts by the fourth line last night:
It was good. I think the Islanders’ fourth line did a good job on us the night before, and it was good for us to get it back. But that line’s played well. I think Clifford’s been really consistent all year, Wagner has good speed and Amadio came in and he was good last night. [Reporter: What are you looking for out of a ‘fourth line?’ What are some of the core tenets?] I think you look for a line that’s hungry, plays hard and gives you a working shift every time they’re on the ice. You’d like if it’s physical. Sometimes you’re not built that way, but mainly it’s a line that will go out and give you energy. I don’t know the exact way to say it, but you don’t want them to get scored on. If your fourth line can go out and play even, that’s big for them.
Desjardins, on what makes him think Austin Wagner will be a player who sticks in the league:
He’s a good skater. You look and he creates a lot of chances through his speed. He’s got size, he’s got grit. He lacks experience, and that’s the one thing he has to get as he moves on, but his work ethic is good and his desire to get better is there. [Reporter: What’s your philosophy behind teaching young players, Willie? How would you go about it with him with the way he’s playing?] I think young players, the underlying thing, you have to have accountability. I don’t believe you just give them ice time. I don’t believe that if they play bad you just put them out there again. They have to be able to go out and play, but you give them every opportunity you can, and you always try to set them up to succeed, too. If they’ve got a really bad match-up, I don’t think you get anything by putting them out against the top line where they get scored on and then they lose confidence. I think you have to be good to them where you protect them a little bit, but I think you have to give them opportunity.
–Lead photo via Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI