The Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek has a column today about the upcoming NHL trade deadline, and how it’s shaping up to be a buyer’s market.
In it, Duhatschek lists a number of potential rental defensemen, including the “Coyotes’ Zbynek Michalek, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Andrej Sekera, the Edmonton Oilers’ Jeff Petry or the Maple Leafs’ Roman Polak, a player coveted by the Kings.”
We presume Duhatschek, a well-respected hockey reporter, isn’t just pulling those last six words out of thin air and that the Kings do, indeed, have an interest in Polak.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if they do. Polak, 28, is a rugged, right-shooting defender that could add depth and experience to a Kings’ blue line that no longer has Willie Mitchell and may not have Slava Voynov for a while, or even ever again.
Polak, Toronto’s leader with 183 hits, is signed through next season for a cap hit of $2.75 million. He was traded to the Leafs by the Blues in June.
The defending Stanley Cup champions have been living up to that title lately. They’ve had a trying campaign, but Los Angeles is now on a five-game winning streak after earning a 3-2 victory against Tampa Bay.
Dwight King and Jeff Carter were once again major contributors. King had two assists, giving him seven points in his last four contests as part of the new look “70s Line.” Carter, another member of that trio, accounted for the game-winning goal.
Carter has two goals and five assists in his last four contests. He leads the team with 43 points in 56 games this season.
Los Angeles is two points shy of the second Wild Card spot, which is currently occupied by the San Jose Sharks. However, if the Kings stay hot they could do far better than a Wild Card seed. Currently just three points separate them and second place in the Pacific Division.
Right time, right place and right jersey number for Dwight King — the burly forward has been on fire since replacing the injured Tanner Pearson on Los Angeles’ “70’s Line” next to Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli.
“They’ve got great chemistry within themselves,” King said of his new linemates, per NHL.com. “For a large amount of time, they’ve been successful together. It’s been pretty easy for me to read off them. They’re both predictable players, and that makes it easy for myself. I’ve just got to go out there and work for them and create space and good things tend to happen.”
King, a natural fit with his No. 74 sweater, is thriving right alongside No. 77 (Carter) and No. 73 (Toffoli). The trio has combined for nine goals and nine assists the past four games — all Kings wins — and Toffoli was named the NHL’s second star of the week earlier today.
King, meanwhile, is on a career-high three-game scoring streak — he has five points over that stretch — and is five goals shy of his career high of 15, which he set last season.
This offensive explosion couldn’t have come at a better time. During a four-week stretch (from Jan. 3 to Feb. 3) in which the Kings had just three regulation wins, goals were hard to come by; the low point came during a three-game losing streak against Boston, Washington and Florida in which the defending Cup champs mustered just three goals.
Tonight, King and the Kings will look to make it five wins in a row when they host Tampa Bay at Staples. The 25-year-old is hopeful he and his linemates can keep rolling.
“We’ve been pretty good even when we haven’t been on the scoreboard, so that gets you into games a little more so than trying to fight for it,” he said. “It’s nice that they’ve been there.”
All the latest from the blue paint…
Karri goes for Flames
Karri Ramo will make his second consecutive start for the Flames tonight when they host Boston at the Saddledome.
Ramo, a surprise starter against Vancouver on Saturday, played very well in his rare appearance, stopping 28 of 30 shots for just his ninth win of the season. The decision to start Ramo came after Jonas Hiller — Calgary’s goalie of record for eight straight games from Jan. 27 to Feb. 12 — had lost two of his last three starts, including a 5-3 defeat in L.A. in which he was hooked in the third period.
For the Bruins, Tuukka Rask is likely to start in goal.
Rangers at Isles: Cam Talbot vs. Jaroslav Halak
‘Canes at Sens: Cam Ward vs. Robin Lehner
Habs at Wings: Carey Price vs. Jimmy Howard
Oilers at Jets: Viktor Fasth vs. Michael Hutchinson
Coyotes at Avs: Mike McKenna vs. Semyon Varlamov
Wild at Canucks: Devan Dubnyk vs. Eddie Lack
Bolts at Kings: Andrei Vasilevskiy vs Jonathan Quick
Chicago’s Marian Hossa, Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 15, the league announced on Monday.
Hossa led the NHL with five goals and tied for second in the League with six points to help the Blackhawks (35-18-4, 74 points) pick up points in all four of their games.
Toffoli shared second in the NHL with four goals and six points to power the Kings (25-18-12, 62 points) to a trio of victories, moving the club within three points of a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
Rinne went 3-0-0 with a 1.30 goals-against average and .954 save percentage to backstop the first-place Predators (38-12-6, 82 points) to three straight wins.
Hossa’s breakout performance came after a sluggish start to the season, in which he scored just 10 goals in his first 52 games (including an ugly month of November, when he scored one in 14.) The 36-year-old Slovak is still on pace for a 60-point season, however, which would match last year’s total when he scored 30 goals and 30 assists.