Good afternoon from Glendale, where the Kings’ season resumes in just over four hours.
Los Angeles took the Gila River Arena ice at 11:00 a.m. local time and aligned thusly:
Extras: Toffoli (IR), Setoguchi
-Nic Dowd (lower-body) appears set to return to the lineup after missing the final three games of the most recent road trip when he received an awkward hit near the benches January 21 in Brooklyn. “It’s good we got those two wins right before break, that was huge for our team,” he said. “I thought the guys played really well. I was able to watch and try to soak in as much as possible.” Tyler Toffoli, on the other hand, is expected to need a little bit more time. This was what was expected heading into the All-Star break, when it became clear that his return would likely occur in one of the first several games after the team returned to action. Devin Setoguchi rotated in and out of rushes and isn’t likely to play tonight. Peter Budaj was the first goaltender off and is expected to start against Arizona.
-The Kings put Matt Greene on injured reserve yesterday. It’s retroactive to January 20, but that doesn’t matter at all, because he’s expected to miss more time than the minimum allotted by IR. “He’s been struggling with a back, groin, all that stuff – issues that he’s had off and on for the last number of years – and it acted up again on him,” Darryl Sutter said on January 22 after a practice at Madison Square Garden. “We shut him down again.” Greene, 33, has a goal, two points and a plus-three rating in 26 games this season.
-Arizona is likely to to turn to Mike Smith in net after the All-Star returned from Los Angeles and got in a practice yesterday at Gila River Arena. Max Domi (broken hand) is closer to returning but won’t play tonight, while 2012 Stanley Cup champion Brad Richardson (fractured tibia, fibula) skated for the first time yesterday since suffering the broken bones in his leg during a game on November 17, according to Sarah McLellan. Here’s to hoping for a thorough recovery that allows Richardson – who remains close with many current Kings and former Kings teammates – to get back to the ice in full health. Via McLellan, Arizona’s alignment up front yesterday was Rieder-Hanzal-Vrbata, McGinn-Burmistrov-Jooris, Perlini-Dvorak-Doan, Crouse-Martinook-White, with defensive pairings of Ekman-Larsson-Schenn, Goligoski-Stone and Chychrun-Murphy, with Kevin Connauton and Peter Holland as extras. After tonight’s game, these teams will meet at Staples Center on February 16, March 14 and April 2.
-With Bob Miller recovering from a mild stroke over the weekend – all our thoughts are with you and Judy, Bob – Ralph Strangis will return to the broadcast booth to call tonight’s game on FOX Sports West with Jim Fox. Here’s a nice report from the morning skate by Helene Elliott, who spoke with Strangis during the happenings at Gila River.