The Kings were on the ice in El Segundo this morning in advance of tonight’s tilt against the Dallas Stars. The Kings close out the back end of a cross-country, 3-in-4 set, which began with a pair of losses against Tampa Bay and Carolina, extending the Los Angeles losing skid to nine games. Dallas, on the other hand, is back in action after a 4-1 defeat against Vegas on Tuesday.
Kings Vitals: Goaltender Jonathan Quick was first off this morning, which indicates he will be back in net again tonight, after he conceded six goals against Carolina on Tuesday before Jack Campbell entered the game in the third period – See below for more on Quick. Quick is 17-11-2 all-time against Dallas, with a .911 save percentage and a 2.51 goals against average. As far as lines, I did not see organized line rushes, though that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen but I think I made out the following during a later drill –
Brown – Kopitar – Toffoli
Leipsic – Carter – Kovalchuk/Luff
Iafallo – Kempe – Brodzinski
Clifford – Lewis – Wagner
Forbort – Doughty
Phaneuf – Roy
MacDermid – Walker
Martinez – LaDue
*Martinez has yet to be cleared for total contact, per Willie Desjardins, while LaDue was the only skater on late for extra work. “It was good to see him out in practice,” Desjardins said of Martinez. “He’s getting close though, for sure.”
Stars Vitals: Per Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas News, Stars Captain Jamie Benn was on the ice this morning but was not listed as a part of the line rushes and will not be in the lineup, per Stars Head Coach Jim Montgomery. See his tweet below for how Dallas lined up on that front.
Stars during morning skate:
— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) February 28, 2019
Notes & Updates –
Kurtis MacDermid could make his season debut with the Kings tonight after he was recalled from Ontario on Wednesday. MacDermid skated on a pairing with Sean Walker this morning, a duo that was used at times this season in Ontario when both blueliners were with the Reign.
If he is in the lineup tonight, MacDermid isn’t trying to do anything too fancy, but rather use the strengths in his own game against a big team in Dallas.
“Bring some energy and some intensity,” he said after today’s morning skate. “They have a really good team, a big, strong team over there, so that’s where I can use my strengths against them down low.”
While the fourth-year blueliner skated in 34 NHL games a season ago with the Kings, he didn’t come into training camp this season with any preconceived notion that those game entitled him to anything about being a part of this year’s Kings group.
“I don’t really look at it that way,” MacDermid said, when asked about what he felt his chances of staying with the Kings were in training camp. “I’m always going to be a player that has to come in and earn his spot, so that’s all I had on my mind. I didn’t think I had a position on the team or anything, I just came in, tried to work hard and whatever happens, happens so I just [went] from there.”
MacDermid has spent the entire season to date with Ontario, missing just one game, which came due to a suspension. The 6-5 blueliner is a +8 on the season, on a Reign team that has conceded 48 more goals than it has scored overall. When asked where he feels he’s improved the most from his last NHL time to now, MacDermid didn’t hone in on any particular area, but rather noted that he’s simply tried to fine tune his strengths, especially while defending.
“I think it’s just the overall game and rounding out the areas that I needed to,” MacDermid said. “Using my body and strength to impose on the other team, but at the same time, having a good stick and making good plays coming out of the zone.”
Speaking of players moving from Ontario, forward Matt Luff was recalled by Los Angeles this morning, joining the Kings during today’s skate. Luff has had quite the week, including a cross-country flight to and from the Southeast, a practice yesterday afternoon with Ontario and now today’s morning skate with the Kings.
Luff collected nine points (2-7-9) from his most recent six-game stint with Ontario, skating heavy minutes most nights. The right winger now rejoins the Kings, where he’s amassed seven goals and ten points in 30 NHL games this season.
Willie Desjardins on whether he had talked to Jonathan Quick since Tuesday
Yeah, he came in and talked to me [here at TSC]. That stuff happens. If you ever have guys that really want to win, he’s just that type of guy, like he’s such a heart and soul guy, he plays with a lot of emotion and that’s what makes him so good. Sometimes, those things go wrong and as a coach you can’t overreact, because it’s just the heat of the moment. He obviously thought that we should have challenged that, obviously with what transpired, I probably wish I would’ve challenged it too, I just didn’t think we were going to get a call at the time. So that’s why we called it the way we did.
On the balance between backing the players versus making the call on judgement
If you remember right back to the very first game I was in, there was a call early and we challenged it right off, so it’s not that I haven’t done that. You’re right, it’s not just the call itself, it’s to show your players that you’re behind them and that’s something you have to weigh in when you make the call, you just have to weigh it in. At that time, we just didn’t feel we were going to get the call, we just weren’t going to get it. Obviously there’s lots going on right now, guys are frustrated with things, so it’s not just the one play. Anyways, going back, I wish I would have made the call but I don’t have any problems with what Jonathan did, that happens.
On whether he analyzes into what went wrong this season now, or if he waits more into the offseason
You know, it’s always easy to wait until tomorrow to fix things. You can always go, well, we’ll just wait a couple more days and do it and you just waste time doing that. We evaluate it as we go. I think that it’s too bad, because we’ve played some pretty good hockey, it wasn’t that we’ve played bad hockey, but we just didn’t play good enough to win. We needed to find ways to win some games, but saying that, that’s happened and it’s passed and we have to find a way moving forward to be good. We have to be good. We’ve got to use that to motivate us. Each guy, to me, you always leave your mark, whenever you play, you always leave your mark for people to see. We have to battle every play or we just leave a bad mark and we don’t represent ourselves or our team well.
Willie Desjardins on Jonny Brodzinski’s play since returning from injury
Well, he was a guy that had a good shot and I knew that he was in a bubble spot, he was just trying to make the team, he hadn’t proven himself as an NHL player yet. Obviously he had a good camp. One thing I found out before he came back was how hard he works, he’s a hard worker, he pushes himself hard. I got to see that he does have a great shot, but it wasn’t until the games that I got to see him in action, find out where he was at. I thought he played well, I thought his first game was his better game but overall I thought he moved well. It will take us a little bit more time to find out where he’s at.
Kurtis MacDermid on how he handled being sent down to Ontario
It’s a process, so you have to make sure you’re ready for this league and sometimes you have to go back down and work on those things until you get back up and you’re ready to come back up and play.
On how he feels his offensive game has developed
I think it’s good. Whenever I can chip in with points and help the team that’s always a positive. It’s always fun getting on the scoresheet, but my main role is making sure I’m keeping the puck out of the net.”
On what he feels the biggest difference between the AHL and NHL is for him
Just positionally wise, the league is really fast so I just have to make sure I’m in the right position all the time.
Jonny Brodzinski on the challenge of missing nearly the first two thirds of the season, especially after a strong summer
It was something you work for all summer, coming to camp the best shape you can be, trying to start off the year off on a good note. Getting hurt in one of the last preseason games, late in the game, was pretty tough. Right after it happened, I thought it was going to be 2-4 weeks, 4-6 weeks, around there but it was 4-6 months. Kind of something you’ve got to wrap your brain around it right away and just know the timetables that the trainers and the doctors set up and just kind of plan accordingly. It was like I had two summers.
On the excitement of getting back into action and getting a goal in his first game back
It was a moment I was waiting for, for a long time and to get it in the first game, but I mean still, we’ve lost both of the games I’ve played so far, so at the same time, we’ve got to really lock it in and come together as a team, pull a few wins together.
On how getting his “timing” back is coming along
I think it’s back now. It’s just a couple of the little quirks that you need to figure out and you can only get that through games. The forecheck, neutral zone, stuff like that, that you really don’t think about until you’re in game situations.
On what the team needs to tighten up defensively to make life easier on their goaltenders
I don’t think there’s just one thing that you can pinpoint on, it’s a lot of things. One of the main things that we’re focusing on right now is just trusting each other, that we’re going to do our job, so we’re not pulling ourselves out of position to go do somebody else’s job and that’s kind of the one thing that we’ve been [hanging] our goalies out to dry on. We’ll go do somebody else’s job and leave our guy wide open, so we’ve got to tighten up.