After six-game absence, Toffoli (mono) back for Kings tonight

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The reeling Los Angeles Kings will get a big boost tonight when Tyler Toffoli returns from a bout with mononucleosis to face the Blackhawks.

Toffoli, 22, has been out of the lineup since Jan. 8 and has missed the Kings’ last six games, during which they’ve gone 1-2-3. Offense has been an issue; L.A. has just five goals in its last three games and the hope is that getting Toffoli back in the mix will alleviate some of those scoring woes.

Prior to falling ill, Toffoli sat tied for third on the team in tallies (12, with Jeff Carter) and had four points in his last eight games.

Voracek’s points lead is surprising even to him

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How many people’s preseason predictions included Jakub Voracek winning the Art Ross Trophy this season? The list probably isn’t that long and wouldn’t have included Voracek himself.

Still, that’s the situation we’re in as he entered the All-Star break with 17 goals and 56 points in 48 contests, which gives him a four-point edge over Tyler Seguin.

“I would be lying if I said I knew I was going to be leading the points by January,” Voracek conceded to NHL.com. “I’ve really worked hard for it. But it doesn’t mean that I was on top for 45 games and now I just let up. I’ve just got to keep working hard and try to get better.”

Part of Voracek’s success comes from his pairing with Claude Giroux, but he’s become a talented forward in his own right.

“He’s putting the work in now and he’s simplified his game,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. “He’s shooting pucks, getting to the net, things like that. A guy with that skill, and he does the right things all the time, he’s going to produce.”

The 25-year-old forward’s rise isn’t exactly a sudden development as he had 45 goals and 108 points in 130 contests over the previous two seasons. Still, his current career-high is only 62 points, which is a mark he’s set to obliterate.

His success has been a silver lining in what has been a rough campaign for the Flyers and has made the Jeff Carter to Columbus trade look like a steal. In addition to getting Voracek, Philadelphia also got two draft picks, which became Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins. The Blue Jackets certainly didn’t get the better end of that deal, but of course the loss of Carter itself is a more complicated matter given that he went on to win two championships with Los Angeles after being reunited with fellow ex-Flyer, Mike Richards.

Carter and Richards have to be pleased with how things worked out, but the two of them have combined to score 17 goals and 48 points this season. That doesn’t match Voracek’s production.

NHL on NBCSN: Sharks face Kings in California clash

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign with Wednesday’s second game as the San Jose Sharks host the Los Angeles Kings at the SAP Center at 10:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Beating the Los Angeles Kings handily to open the 2014-15 season obviously didn’t erase all the pain from that infamous “reverse sweep” in the 2014 playoffs, but the San Jose Sharks still got a measure of revenge with that 4-0 win.

The Sharks will get another chance to spite the Kings tonight, as things haven’t been going smoothly for the defending champions lately. The aim is obvious enough for a Kings team that is currently on the outside of the playoff picture, as NHL.com notes.

“We need to be in that playoff spot before the break. No doubt about it,” Drew Doughty said . “We need to win this game. It’s a division game and it’s a big rivalry. We need to win it, and we need to go into the break feeling good about ourselves.”

Really, you can trace the bad times back to a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 6. Including that defeat, the Kings have gone 6-7-7 in their past 20 games. More recently, Los Angeles has dropped three straight games and six of seven, squandering precious points from an expired seven-game homestand.

(While four of those defeats netted standings points, there was also the frustration of leaving points on the table.)

Much of those struggles stem from Jonathan Quick’s prolonged slump.

After starting brilliantly (.942 save percentage in October), Quick’s individual stats have dropped significantly each month; his January save percentage has been a putrid .861.

That’s not to say that the Kings are the only team that sees room for improvement, of course.

You know things aren’t going great for a team when its head coach questions their drive, as Sharks bench boss Todd McLellan did on Tuesday.

After beating Toronto to begin this seven-game homestand, the Sharks have dropped two straight games. They would greatly benefit from exploiting this opportunity to load up on standings points.

As much as these two perennial contending California teams have been struggling lately, there’s still plenty of talent on hand. From Joe Thornton to Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture, the Sharks remain loaded with scoring skill. Los Angeles can go toe-to-toe in that area with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter as well while also boasting elite defenseman Drew Doughty.

Sharks – Kings games are always an entertaining watch, but things get that much more interesting when there’s something on the line. That’s the case tonight, January game or not.

Update: Kings’ Pearson breaks bone in lower leg

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The Los Angeles Kings delighted cheesy nickname enthusiasts by resembling “That 70’s Line” of Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli, but they’re dropping like flies on Saturday.

First, word surfaced that Toffoli is out indefinitely with mono. Now Kings fans cringe in anticipation to hear how bad Pearson’s issue might be as he fell feet-first into the boards during the second period of tonight’s wild game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Update: Bad news from LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen: the 22-year-old broke a bone in his lower leg.

As you can see, Rosen got confirmation from the team, but the Kings didn’t release any sort of injury timeline for Pearson. One would assume that we’ll know about that soon, whether that comes on Sunday or in this coming week.

Kiss of bad luck: Kings’ Toffoli sidelined with mono

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If you’re prone to being annoyed by cheesy word play, kiss your patience goodbye, because Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli’s missing Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets because of mono.

That’s the word from the OC Register’s Rich Hammond, who asks the question on many hockey peoples’ minds: is that better or worse than the mumps?

Here’s a quick rundown of the ailment via Web MD:

Mononucleosis, also called “mono,” is a common illness that can leave you feeling tired and weak for weeks or months. Mono goes away on its own, but lots of rest and good self-care can help you feel better.

Mono usually is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It is most often seen in teens and young adults. Children can get the virus, but it often goes unnoticed because their symptoms are mild. Older adults usually don’t get mono, because they have immunity to the virus.

At first, the impression was that the mumps might be worse, but then again:

Either way, it’s a bummer for the Kings, as they had just reaped some rewards for reuniting Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter.