Kings vs. Ducks: Freeway Faceoff series notebook
The Kings and the Ducks each skated at their respective facilities Wednesday morning. It was an optional skate for the Kings while the Ducks fielded as full of a team as they could during morning line rushes. Here’s what’s going on with each team.
Los Angeles: Jamie McBain will make his L.A. Kings debut Wednesday night, giving the Kings a cull compliment of defensemen, after skating with only five in the last game. It’s been a whirlwind for the former Hurricanes and Sabres blue liner, who was out of a job at the start of the season. He only played in five games for the Kings’ AHL affiliate.
But with how quickly everything has transpired, McBain hasn’t had much time to get nervous.
"I’m excited just to go out there and play the game, because once you step out on the ice you just kind of let the emotions speak for themselves," McBain said. "And nothing else really matters."
The Pacific Division is currently tops in the NHL, but head coach Darryl Sutter said the learning curve isn’t exceptionally steep for McBain, given his brief tenure in the Kings’ system with the Manchester Monarchs and two full days of practice with the Kings.
"He played five games in the very same system, very same message," Sutter said. "So we didn"t bring a new player in. He didn’t start practice three days ago. He played five games, otherwise he wouldn’t be here."
As for the Kings’ health, there are a few guys out sick, but Sutter didn’t elaborate, saying he didn’t want to use it as an excuse should the team play poorly. However, Sutter’s health is great.
"Me? If I was any better, I could play," he said. "Why not?"
Anaheim: Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin are still both out with viral gland infections. Perry, the Ducks’ goals leader, spent two days in the hospital on an IV drip. Both had blood work done, and the team was waiting for the results at the time of the morning skate.
"We’re just asking now if the results of the blood tests are in," head coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Our training staff and organization did a great job to quarantine those guys from the rest of the group."
Illnesses and injuries have forced the Ducks to shake up their lines. Emerson Etem, who has seen most of his playing time come as a fourth-line winger, was practicing with Ryan Getzlaf and Devante-Smith Pelly on the top line. Etem also spent time up there during the playoffs, and it puts Etem, the poster child for Southern California hockey, in a greater offensive role.
"Offensively, the combinations that we’ve been working we haven’t been scoring. So sometimes you just shuffle the deck," Boudreau said. "Emerson has been an offensive guy before and let’s see if he can’t do it playing with arguably the best passer in the world."
The Ducks did receive some good news, as defenseman Cam Fowler, who was out the last game with an undisclosed lower-body injury, went through normal line rushes Wednesday morning and was given the green light to return to the lineup.