Kings look to young forwards to help offset recent injuries
Just two days after losing their two second-line wingers, the Los Angeles Kings are calling on the services of their young forwards.
Tanner Pearson is out indefinitely and he will undergo surgery to repair his fractured left fibula later this week. Tyler Toffoli is out for the foreseeable future with mono, although he has not been moved to the injured reserve.
Center Nick Shore has been called up from the AHL and coach Darryl Sutter said he intends on playing him, winger Andy Andreoff and Center Jordan Nolan but Sutter’s looking for the young forwards to prove themselves, starting Monday night at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs (starting at 7 p.m. on FOX Sports West).
"I’d say Andreoff and Nolan would both be in the very same boat," Sutter said. "Guys who have played a handful of shifts once in a while and need to play a hell of a lot better than they have."
Filling their spots on the second line isn’t an issue. Carter was moved up to play with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik on the top line, where he’s seen a good amount of time already this season. Lines 1-3 are all combinations that have been used before, but the fourth line is likely going to be a combination of mostly unproven young players skating with Kyle Clifford.
Toffoli and Pearson were both called up as injury replacements and Sutter wants to see Nolan, Andreoff and Shore take advantage of the opportunity in the same way.
"I know it’s injury that’s brought him up here, but it’s the very same as if I look back with Toffoli and Pearson, and the same age, same type of first year, same type of second years going up and down," Sutter said. "There are guys who are here who are here not because they made the team, but because they were basically given a job."
Shore, the Kings’ third round pick in 2011, has been leading the AHL in goals (20), is second in points (41) and has been effective on both the power play and penalty kill as well.
"He’s going to play," Sutter said. "I told the Shore boy I’m glad he’s here. He deserves the right, the very same way that when Tyler and Tanner went down last year, they came back up."
— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 12, 2015
Earlier this season, Sutter said he wanted to see Andreoff and Nolan learn how to accurately prepare for games at the NHL level. He hasn’t exactly been thrilled with their production on the ice, but the potential is there.
Until that potential manifests, the production of Toffoli (12 goals, 15 assists) and Pearson (12 goals, 4 assists) isn’t something the Kings can replace with a trio of rookies.
"You don’t," Sutter said. "They’re very important players on our team, and not just numbers-wise, but they’re a big part of the whole puck possession game and penalty killing game and all of that. We’re going to have to play some players. What you do is you put in other guys that are bitching about ice time that think they should be playing or guys that you have to move out of position a little bit or veterans that have to give you a little bit more."
Other notes: Martin Jones is slated to make the start in the goal against the struggling Leafs, giving Jonathan Quick a night off. Quick has struggled as of late, allowing 11 goals in his last three starts.
Former Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier will get a shot against his former team tonight when he opposes Jones. Bernier played four seasons with the Kings before being traded for goalie Ben Scrivens, forward Matt Frattin and a second-round pick.