INSIDERS. Several quick notes and links before we get to the meat of today’s coverage.
The LA Kings returned from their recovery day and began assembling on the Toyota Sports Center ice prior to 10:00 a.m. Before the skate opened up with a good dose of line rushes, Alex Iafallo, Carl Grundstrom, Alec Martinez, Sean Walker and Adrian Kempe got in some good skill work with skating consultant Dave Cruikshank on an adjoining rink. When they assembled alongside the rest of the group, line rushes didn’t show any radical change:
Several quick notes and links:
— Tyler Toffoli was absent from the skate because he’s sick, per a team representative. There has been a bug going around the room (and Blog HQ) recently, and Tyler is the latest to get hit. “Are cupcakes a good source of Vitamin C?” I wonder while checking online for scurvy specialists.
— It wasn’t clear whether the third pair was Walker-LaDue (R/R) or MacDermid-Phaneuf (L/L), so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow’s morning skate to get a sense of which pair will be projected to play against San Jose, assuming the team doesn’t return to the 11-forward, seven-defenseman alignment.
— Good reading from Lisa Dillman of The Athletic on Ontario captain Brett Sutter, who recently reached the 800-game milestone in the AHL and is an excellent conduit between his teammates and Reign Coach Mike Stothers. Come for the Mike Keenan reference in the great lede, stay for a touching story about Sutter’s love for the game. (And an update on Chris Sutter, a surprise guest Monday night.)
— The Kings’ coaching search was referenced in Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts column today:
8. Now that Los Angeles is officially eliminated from playoff contention, I think we’re going to start hearing more of Todd McLellan’s name in conjunction with the Kings. In GM Rob Blake’s two seasons with San Jose, the Sharks won 104 games with McLellan as coach.
This isn’t the first time McLellan’s name has been floated as a hypothetical target for Los Angeles’ opening. His name had been referenced as a potential mid-season replacement option shortly he and the Oilers parted ways in November, though when I checked in on that suggestion, it was shot down fast and firmly. That doesn’t have any great bearing on next year – the Kings were not interested in making a second change behind the bench – but does serve as some context, given that his name continues to pop up.
— The Sharks swim downstream for the first time since opening night – they’re apparently freshwater sharks, like bull sharks or river sharks – and will do so without several important pieces, as captured by Paul Gackle of the Mercury-News. Erik Karlsson (groin) remains out, while Joe Pavelski (lower-body), injured last Saturday versus Nashville, missed only his second game in eight years during San Jose’s emotional 7-3 home loss to Vegas on Monday and skated on his own today. (That’s still a positive development for San Jose, given the ominous Peter DeBoer note Monday that Pavelski might be “a little longer than day-to-day.”) San Jose dropped all three games of their most recent home stand, handicapping them in the race for the divisional title. They’re still seven points up on the hard-charging Golden Knights, whom they’re highly likely to face in a first round Pacific Division series.
Pavelski will not play tomorrow, but he’ll go on the road trip. Says he could probably play if necessary, but, like with Erik Karlsson, everyone is looking at the “big picture.” Still, has to be considered a sigh of relief that he should be back at some point relatively soon
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) March 20, 2019
— More to come later today. In the interim, read up on the annual NHLPA Players Poll, which is always an interesting read. We asked a bunch of players – Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Adrian Kempe and Derek Forbort – about some of the poll answers. There’s fun stuff there, and it’s always interesting to hear Doughty’s scouting takes of other top players. Let’s talk soon, Insiders.
Chris Sutter Dance Cam: Country Music Night Edition ❤️ pic.twitter.com/mmjfe4HPCW
— LA Kings (@LAKings) March 19, 2019
–Lead photo via Juan Ocampo/NHLI