Good afternoon from Pepsi Center, where the Kings took the ice for an 11:00 a.m. optional skate. There weren’t any line rushes, though the team did get up and down the ice in transition and worked on net-front deflections and screens before concluding the practice with some shootout work.
-Anze Kopitar (upper-body) might not be ready for Tuesday night’s game against the Avalanche. He’s in a bit of a holding pattern while on anti-inflammatories, and until the area of his injury improves, he won’t be able to do much. It was a tiny bit out of context, because Darryl Sutter was speaking about the importance of depth contributions, but he told the assembled media on Monday that “you certainly don’t want to have to play without Kopitar, but we’re going to have to play without Kopitar, and that’s a fact.” That’s slightly ominous, but I haven’t heard anything that changes Kopitar’s “day-to-day” designation.
-Jeff Zatkoff skated with the team for the first time since he suffered groin spasms against Ottawa on Friday night, so there were three goaltenders on the ice. He’s still day-to-day and looks like he’s nearing a return.
-No supplementary discipline for Kyle Clifford, via Mike Halford of NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk. Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor has been placed on injured reserve as a result of the hit in Sunday’s game that drew a five-minute boarding major.
-Derek Forbort looked assertive and confident for most of his 22:38 of ice time in Sunday’s shootout loss to the Jets. He used his skating to avoid trouble behind his net and spearhead breakouts and has shown an increasing handle of some of the harder areas of the game. “He’s playing with confidence and he’s making the right plays, he’s playing physically, defensively, blocking shots. He’s playing really, really well,” said Doughty, who also commended his play in the corners in turning over pucks. “When him and I are trying to play physical at the same time, the forwards don’t want to come in our corners when they know they’re going to get crushed every single time, so we want to keep up that thing,” Doughty continued. “I don’t want to jinx it but I don’t think he’s been on for a goal against in six games or something like that so he’s been playing awesome.” Doughty was close – the only goal that Forbort has been on the ice for since the Pittsburgh game was Philip Danault’s goal last Thursday in Montreal that put the Canadiens up 3-0. So, one goal against in five games in which he’s drawn at a minimum 17:40 of ice time.
-It always seems to be sunny in Denver, and today is no exception. It’s one of the reasons the city is among the preferred stops of players and teams. “The weather is phenomenal, the city’s great, you have good restaurants, you’ve always got sunshine, which is nice,” Peter Budaj said. “I like it, definitely would put it like top three [cities in the league].” He’s spent plenty of time here to know what he’s talking about. Selected by the Avalanche with the last pick of the second round, 63rd overall, in 2001, the now-34-year-old appeared in 242 games with Colorado between 2005-11. This trip has become a bit of a Peter Budaj appreciation tour, given the returns to former haunts in Montreal, and now, Denver. “It’s great to come back,” he said. “I think Montreal is definitely a special place. I’d been there three years but Colorado is more like my home – I mean obviously I’m Slovakian, so that’s my home – but I lived here, I started my professional NHL career here, so it’s a very special place.” It’s still to early to get a real gauge on whether he’ll face the Avs – wait for tomorrow’s #LAKingsGoalieTweetOff for that – but with Zatkoff looking to advance past a “day-to-day” designation and because Jack Campbell has two NHL games to his name, Budaj, who has been a workhorse for the team during its spate of injuries, would be the safest choice.
-I’ll have some Darryl Sutter quotes up shortly, Insiders. There’s good stuff coming there. After that, I’ll get back to work on my Rogie piece, which I’m hoping should be up by 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. today. Enjoy your Monday, bloggers. Let’s talk soon.