INSIDERS. A few quick bits on a Sunday in which the team held an optional practice:
— Brendan Leipsic, who suffered a lower-body injury March 21 against San Jose, is running out of time to get back into the lineup. “We don’t have a lot left, and if he’s not on the ice [with the team] now, you’re going to take two or three practices because he’s been off for a while to get ready,” Willie Desjardins said. “If he’s not skating right after these next two, then he’s probably not going to get in.”
Desjardins said that Leipsic has been “doing a great job – he’s in every day and the whole lot” but that he’s just not ready to join his teammates on the ice. The forward who is eligible to become a restricted free agent has seven goals and 23 points in 62 games this season.
Los Angeles concludes the season with games against Calgary and at Arizona on Monday and Tuesday and at Anaheim and versus Vegas Friday and Saturday.
— I should’ve shared this yesterday, but I didn’t have the recollection jarred back into my consciousness until I saw Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat skating on the same line last night: Kurtis MacDermid was a defenseman on that Erie Otters team that featured 17-year-olds Strome, DeBrincat, and Connor McDavid in 2014-15.
“It’s probably the best case scenario that I could have asked for going against those best players day in and day out in practice. It’s just going to make me a better defenseman,” MacDermid said Sunday. “I’ll pick their brain sometimes and ask what they see as offensive guys and what I can do better, so it’s a win-win, really.”
One would imagine the types of skills demonstrated during practice, both in between and outside of whistles.
“Their hockey IQ is off the charts, all three of ‘em,” MacDermid said. “Each of them brings something different to the table, but they’re all world-class players and in practice and games when I was with them they’re really fun to watch as a fan and even as players, so it’s good to learn from them when you can and it’s fun to shut them down when you’re playing against them.”
DeBrincat has 69 goals and 126 points in 160 career NHL games, while Strome has found a nice home as a 21-year-old with Chicago this season, totaling 45 points in 54 games since his early-season trade from Arizona. McDavid has 127 goals and 370 points in 283 career games.
Meanwhile, MacDermid hasn’t given any reason to be removed from the lineup and again showed that his first pass has improved since his last NHL opportunity. He’s appeared in seven of the last eight games.
— More on what Desjardins would like to see from his young defensemen over the final four games: “For them, it’s more of what they want to accomplish, because they’ve got to want to leave a great impression for next year. For me, that’s what they’ve got to say is when the management staff gets together at the end of the year, they’ve got to say, ‘that guy can help us next year,’ and that’s what they’ve got to put on for their next three games. For me, I hope they do that. I want them to come out and show the type of player they are and what the team can expect next year and feel that if these guys are back then things are going to be good.”
— Anze Kopitar will play his 1,000th NHL game tomorrow and will be honored prior to the game against Vegas on April 6, as teams will celebrate a player’s silver stick anniversary in the first home game after the milestone is set.
Dustin Brown will be feted at Monday’s game against Calgary for breaking Dave Taylor’s LA Kings games played record. Taylor will also be honored on the ice prior to the game. Fans in attendance will receive a commemorative Dustin Brown poster when entering Staples Center for the ***7:00 p.m. game.***
— I’ll share more tomorrow from Jonathan Quick, who like Kopitar was drafted in 2005 and on Sunday shared the intricately connected bonds between those with tenure in the dressing room. “You get to kind of see everything. I know when I got here, Brownie already had his first son, but over the past decade I watched his family grow and then same with Kopi. He has a couple kids now and to see that side of it off the ice it’s pretty special. And then you go to the rink and see the time and work they put into their job and how much it means to them, so I know when I’m on and off the ice it just makes you kind of work a little harder. You want to win for them, and that’s the way it should be.”
— Lots more to come on Kopitar and Brown tomorrow, Insiders. Enjoy your Sunday afternoon. Let’s talk soon.
Via LA Kings:
As part of tomorrow night’s Kings-Calgary Flames game at STAPLES Center, Kings captain/forward Anze Kopitar will be play in his 1,000th regular season game, an NHL Milestone.
Kopitar, who is in his 13th season with the Kings, will be the 337th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000 games played plateau. Game time on Monday is 7 p.m.
The Kings are scheduled to honor Kopitar at STAPLES Center on Saturday, April 6, when the Kings host the Vegas Golden Knights as part of the club’s 2018-19 season finale. The pregame ceremony will take place before that night’s Kings-Vegas contest and be broadcast live on FOX Sports West.
Also tomorrow night the Kings will honor Dustin Brown pre-game. Brown this past Thursday passed Dave Taylor to become the Kings’ all-time franchise leader in regular season games played with 1,112. Brown’s ceremony will also feature Taylor and be broadcast on FOX Sports West.
Kopitar enters tomorrow night’s game having played in 999 career regular season games, all with the Kings. A two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Kopitar has 885 career points (311-574=885), a plus-75 rating and 276 career penalty minutes. This season he leads the team in points; is tied for first in assists; is tied for first in goals; leads the team in short-handed goals; is tied for the team lead in game-winning goals; and he leads all club forwards (and is fourth overall in the NHL) in average ice time per game.
Among franchise leaders, Kopitar is fourth in games played; fifth in goals; fifth in assists; fifth in points; seventh in power-play goals; fifth in short-handed goals; and he is third in game-winning goals while also ranking in the top-10 in plus-minus.
Kopitar has also played in 79 career NHL playoff games and has 66 points (21-45=66) in postseason action. A four-time All-Star, Kopitar was originally drafted by the Kings in the first-round (11th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He received the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2016 and is a two-time winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy (2016 and 2018). He has won 14 different annual Kings team awards and has led the Kings in scoring in 10 of the past 11 seasons.
Kopitar, a 10-time 20 goal scorer and the first Slovenia-born captain in NHL history, is the 56th player to have played for the Kings to reach the 1,000 games played milestone and the 22nd player to accomplish the feat in a Kings uniform. Kings forward Dion Phaneuf played in his 1,000th game earlier this season and Jeff Carter is 24 games shy of the mark.
Following tomorrow night’s game, which begins at 7 p.m., the Kings travel to Arizona where they face the Coyotes on Tuesday night.
–Lead photo via Len Redkoles/NHLI