Campbell injury adds to Kings’ frustrating season

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Nothing is going right for the Los Angeles Kings this season.

Already stuck with the league’s worst record and having just fired their coach, the team announced on Monday that goalie Jack Campbell will be sidelined for the next four-to-six weeks due to a torn meniscus.

Rookie Cal Petersen has been recalled from the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League to take his place.

This is problematic for the Kings because Campbell has taken over the starting goaltending duties while regular starter Jonathan Quick continues to recover from his own meniscus injury that has sidelined him since Oct. 23.

Not only had Campbell taken over the starting role, he has been one of the few bright spots on the team during this otherwise abysmal start. As of Monday, he had a .923 save percentage on the season and had been especially good in November with a .939 save percentage in his past five appearances. That includes a 35-save effort over the weekend when he lost a tough-luck 1-0 decision to the Calgary Flames.

[Related: Kings’ problems run far deeper than their coach]

Now he is out, too, and a team that is 31st in the league in goal scored (only 2.06 goals per game) is going to have to rely on an unproven rookie that has yet to play an NHL game, and a 36-year-old Peter Budaj to keep the puck out of their own net.

Budaj has appeared in just one game this season for the Kings, stopping 10 out of 11 shots.

Petersen, meanwhile, was originally a fifth-round draft pick by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013 and was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent in July, 2017. He signed with the Kings after an incredibly successful collegiate career at Notre Dame, and in his first year of pro hockey finished the 2017-18 season with a .910 save percentage for Ontario.

So far this season his play has dropped off considerably as he had just an .881 save percentage in his first 10 games.

In other words: Good luck, Willie Desjardins. You are going to need it.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Struggling Kings get bad news about Quick

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If the Los Angeles Kings want to get back on track – and John Stevens wants to keep his job safe? – they’ll need to do it without Jonathan Quick.

At least, they won’t have Quick in net for quite a while. The Kings announced that Quick is out indefinitely after undergoing a surgical procedure to “repair a torn meniscus in his knee.”

Quick’s potential timelines are fluid, as LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen discusses:

“Injuries do happen and not sure there’s anything in particular you can point to in this situation,” Stevens said.

“I think he’s done a good job of really staying on top of everything, his preventative maintenance, his daily routines, so these things happen sometimes and you have to deal with them.”

The Kings ended a six-game losing streak on Sunday, beating the New York Rangers 4-3. Even so, it’s been a grim 3-7-1 start for a team that (justifiably or not), came into 2018-19 with fairly high hopes.

Things could really come to a head soon for the Kings with Quick out. Sunday’s game against the Rangers began a seven-game homestand, so there’s an opportunity to get back into things if the Kings can make the most of the next six games. Conversely, low moments can feel that much lower when you’re languishing in front of home fans. Those are the types of stretches that, well, get coaches fired.

Rosen reports that a goalie trade is unlikely, which means that it’s likely down to Jack Campbell and Peter Budaj.

One cannot help but wonder that combining this tough start with this bad news might motivate management to divest themselves from this specific season. Could this be the time to “tank” and try to build at least a bit for the future, even with the increasingly frightening term locked up in an aging core of Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, and Quick? The Kings might not have a ton of room to maneuver in that regard, yet it’s at least a painful discussion management should have.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Kessel, Perron tally hat tricks; Campbell blanks Habs

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Three Stars

1. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins – Kessel powered the Penguins to a 4-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights with his sixth career hat trick. It was the 48th time No. 81 has recorded a multi-goal game and all three goals saw involvement from Evgeni Malkin.

2. David Perron, St. Louis Blues – During a 5-3 win, Perron recorded his first hat trick since 2016, which funny enough also came against the Calgary Flames. Perron now has four career hat tricks.

3. Jack Campbell, Los Angeles Kings – The 26-year-old netminder has experienced a lot in his professional career, and on Thursday he was able to record his first NHL shutout with a 40-save performance against the Montreal Canadiens. Campbell stopped double digit shots in all three periods and withstood four Montreal power plays in the 3-0 victory.

Honorable Mentions

Pekka Rinne and Keith Kinkaid also posted shutouts, with the Nashville Predators netminder stopping 29 vs. the Winnipeg Jets and the New Jersey Devils goaltender make 21 saves against the Washington Capitals.

Auston Matthews now has nine goals in five games after scoring twice vs. the Detroit Red Wings. John Tavares dished out four helpers in the win.

Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild and Brady Skjei of the New York Rangers are your overtime heroes of the night.

Thursday’s Highlights

• Enjoy all three goals of Kessel’s natural hat trick:

• Here’s the second of Perron’s two second period power play goals to complete his trick:

Marcus Sorensen made the most out of this shorthanded opportunity:

Brett Howden got a little fancy with some between-the-legs action to open the scoring for the Rangers:

• If you haven’t seen David Pastrnak’s beauty yet, click here.

• Meanwhile, Connor McDavid turned on the afterburners to score his first goal of the season:

• Good things happen when Ryan Johansen shoots the puck:

Factoids of the Night

Scores
Penguins 4, Golden Knights 2
Rangers 3, Sharks 2 (OT)
Bruins 4, Oilers 1
Avalanche 6, Sabres 1
Devils 6, Capitals 0
Blue Jackets 5, Panthers 4
Canucks 4, Lightning 1
Maple Leafs 5, Red Wings 3
Kings 3, Canadiens 0
Predators 3, Jets 0
Blues 5, Flames 3
Wild 4, Blackhawks 3 (OT)

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Sharks best positioned to withstand big early season injury

Doug Wilson didn’t go looking for Joe Thornton insurance last summer. The general manager of the San Jose Sharks already had it.

The Sharks didn’t panic when they found out their longtime star had another setback with a series of nagging right knee injuries. They knew what they could count on from captain Joe Pavelski and the rest of the supporting cast.

”We’re very fortunate we have a lot of players that can go up and down in the lineup,” Wilson said. ”Our players just look at it as they just move up a role or slip into a different position, and it’s not really that much of an adjustment for them because they’ve done it before.”

All over the NHL, teams are adjusting on the fly to a surprising number of significant injuries early in the season, including a handful of starting goaltenders.

The Kings are calling Jonathan Quick week-to-week with a lower-body injury. The Panthers will be without Roberto Luongo for two to four weeks because of a sprained ligament in his right knee, and the Penguins don’t know when Matt Murray will be back after being diagnosed with yet another concussion.

The Flyers have ruled out high-priced forward James van Riemsdyk for the next five to six weeks, and the Blue Jackets are without top defenseman Seth Jones and center Brandon Dubinsky .

The Sharks in particular seem best prepared to withstand the loss of Thornton because of organizational depth in the form of summer addition Antti Suomela and ready-made NHL forwards like Rourke Chartier, Marcus Sorensen and Dylan Gambrell.

The Sharks hope doctors caught the infection in Thornton’s knee early enough that he won’t be out too long. Still, Wilson expected to use 28 or 29 players this season and credits the versatility of players on the roster and coaching of Peter DeBoer for having San Jose ready for this scenario.

”When you lose a difference-maker, no team can just plug and play to replace a difference-maker. But then you become the sum of all your parts,” Wilson said. ”A lot of our guys are not kids. … When people say they’re new or younger, they’re actually mature players. And most importantly our coaches and our players trust them, and that’s half the battle.”

No GM can go into an offseason making moves on the uncertain scenario that a star will go down. But previous experiences paved the way for Los Angeles, Columbus and Florida to have a plan in place.

Quick missed four months two seasons ago, and Luongo sat out two months with a groin injury last year. Florida has backup James Reimer signed long term as an option already, and Los Angeles traded for former top prospect Jack Campbell and brought back veteran Peter Budaj as depth.

”We’ve experienced it here two years in a row,” Kings GM Rob Blake said. ”We lost Quickie for four or five months and Jeff Carter the same last year. (Coach John Stevens’) message is the same: the next guy up, someone’s going to come in and fill that spot. Will he be at the level of Jonathan Quick? Will he be at the level of Jeff Carter or (Anze) Kopitar? Probably not. But they are adequate players, and the rest around have to be better, too.”

The Penguins for now are counting on young goalies Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry to shoulder the load without Murray. Knowing them from his time in Pittsburgh, Vegas netminder Marc-Andre Fleury said: ”They’re both very talented goalies. … I’m sure they’ll be fine.”

Often, it’s not about one player filling a void. Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen doesn’t expect one defenseman to replace Jones or one center to step right into Dubinsky’s role.

”If somebody comes from being the seventh, eighth defenseman to thinking he’s going to play 27 minutes to replace Seth Jones with all his strengths, probably either he shouldn’t be the seventh defenseman or he’s got unrealistic expectations,” Kekalainen said. ”Everybody who’s coming into the lineup from outside of the lineup should have their eyes wide open with the opportunity in front of them, but also realizing what their own strengths are and what their role on the team is and how they can be successful.”

That’s the case in Philadelphia, where Jordan Weal gets the first crack at filling in for van Riemsdyk after being a healthy scratch the first two games of the season. Like the Sharks, the Flyers believe they have flexibility among their forwards.

”We have a lot of players that are versatile in terms of being able to play the middle or play the wing,” coach Dave Hakstol said. ”In the short term, that’ll challenge us and challenge our depth and challenge somebody else to step in and do a good job.”

VEGAS ADVERSITY

After losing just two of their first 10 games last season as an expansion team, the Golden Knights have already lost twice in their first three games. For a Vegas team that didn’t face much adversity in a charmed inaugural season that included a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, it’s a chance for coach Gerard Gallant to emphasize some fundamentals with a tough road schedule early.

”I thought we played loose and were not concentrating enough and were making mental mistakes,” Gallant said. ”So, it’s just about getting focused and getting ready to play every game.”

GAME OF THE WEEK

The defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals host a 2019 favorite in the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

LEADERS (THROUGH MONDAY)

Goals: Auston Matthews (Toronto), 5; Assists: Brad Marchand (Boston), 7; Points: Matthews (8); Ice time: Drew Doughty (Los Angeles), 28:44; Wins: John Gibson (Anaheim), 3; Goals-against average: Ben Bishop (Dallas), 0.50; Save percentage: Bishop, .984.

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

The Buzzer: Young Hurricanes shine; Kovalchuk reaches milestone

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Three Stars

1. John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs. It has only been three games but so far John Tavares has been everything the Maple Leafs could have hoped for. He and Auston Matthews are carrying the offense right now, while Tavares recorded his first hat trick as a member of the Maple Leafs on Sunday night in a game that featured everything but defense.

2. Warren Foegele, Carolina Hurricanes. It has been a great start to the 2018-19 season for the Hurricanes with a 2-0-1 start that was highlighted by Sunday’s 8-5 win over the New York Rangers. It turned out to be a huge game for some of the Hurricanes’ young players, with 2018 No. 2 overall pick Andrei Svechnikov scoring his first NHL goal (the game-winner) and picking up another assist in the win. He was not the only young Hurricanes to make an impact on Sunday as Warren Foegele picked up a pair of goals and an assist. In just five games over the past two seasons the 22-year-old Foegele (a third-round pick by the Hurricanes in 2014) already has four goals and two assists. The Hurricanes were great on Sunday, right through the post-game celebration.

3. Jack Campbell, Los Angeles Kings. With Jonathan Quick sidelined for the time being the Los Angeles Kings have to turn to Jack Campbell in the short-term. He enters the season with just seven games of NHL experience so he remains a bit of a mystery even though he is a first-round draft pick from 2010. On Sunday night he played one of the best games of his brief career, turning aside 36 of the 38 shots he faced from the Detroit Red Wings. The only two goals the Red Wings were able to get behind him on Sunday night were power play tallies.

Highlight of the Night

The Blackhawks dropped their first game of the season on Sunday night, largely due to their defense and goaltending, but were still able to gain at least a point in the standings thanks to their performance of their offense. The best play of the night was this tic-tac-toe goal in the first period that gave them 2-0 lead.

Factoids

Ilya Kovalchuk recorded his first point for the Los Angeles Kings in his return to the NHL, and it was a big one for him as it was the 400th helper in his NHL career. He is just the 88th player in league history to record at least 400 goals and 400 assists in his career. Who knows what his career numbers would look like had he not spent the past five years playing in the KHL. He added another assist later in the game giving him two points on the night. Those two points have also made him officially a point-per-game player again, giving him 818 total points in 818 games.

The Blackhawks received goals from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on Sunday night, a development that usually results in them winning the game. That did not happen against the Toronto Maple Leafs, making it the first time in 44 games that the Blackhawks did not win when Toews and Kane both score in the same game.

 

Scores

Carolina Hurricanes 8, New York Rangers 5

Toronto Maple Leafs 7, Chicago Blackhawks 6 (OT)

Los Angeles Kings 4, Detroit Red Wings 2

 

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.