Michael Mersch

Associated Press

Struggling Kings will be tested if their ‘best player’ is forced to miss time

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The Kings’ current road trip has been one to forget.

Not only do they have just two wins in six games, but they’ve also seen two key forwards go down with injuries.

Winger Marian Gaborik suffered a knee injury against the Rangers on Feb.12, and his team has dropped each game since then.

Things got a whole lot worse on Thursday, when franchise center Anze Kopitar picked up a lower-body injury in a loss to the Blues.

“He’s our best player, so it’s a big loss for us,” teammates Dustin Brown said of losing Kopitar, per the LA Times. “In saying that, it’s an opportunity for other guys to elevate and for other guys to step into the lineup and have an impact.

“I don’t know the extent of his injury, and all that, but these are the times where you really find out what you’re made of.”

Kopitar is considered day-to-day.

As The Times points out, the Kings have been a bit of a mess at 5-on-5 since the game against the Rangers.

They’ve combined to score just two goals in losses to New Jersey, Washington and St. Louis, and both were on special teams.

Kopitar scored a shorthanded goal against the Capitals, while Tyler Toffoli scored a power play goal against the Blues.

There’s a slim chance Kopitar will be able to suit up in the final game of their road trip, in Nashville on Saturday.

The Kings recalled Michael Mersch from AHL Ontario in case Kopitar can’t go.

If he doesn’t play, the Kings will need to find a way to get the job done because the Pacific Division race is tightening up:

Pacific

 

Video: Lecavalier notches an assist on Muzzin goal for first point with Kings

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Traded from the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, 35-year-old Vincent Lecavalier recorded his first point in his first game as a member of the L.A. Kings on Thursday.

After some good work protecting the puck along the boards, Lecavalier dished a pass to defenseman Jake Muzzin, who beat James Reimer over the left shoulder with the shot. That gave the Kings a 1-0 lead early in the third period against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.

Mike Babcock used his coach’s challenge for potential goalie interference but after a review, the call on the ice stood.

From the NHL Situation Room:

At 2:53 of the third period in the Maple Leafs/Kings game, Toronto requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Michael Mersch interfered with Toronto goaltender James Reimer before the puck crossed the goal line.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed no goaltender interference infractions occurred before the puck crossed the goal line.

Update: The Kings held on for the 2-1 win over the Leafs.

Both Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn were making their debuts for the Kings following Wednesday’s trade.

“They both gave us quality minutes,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter, as per LA Kings Insider.

“I’m sure there’s a whole pail of emotions starting yesterday, and then obviously not used to flying, and when they get their time change and do their medicals, it’s not easy, so give ‘em credit. It’s all we wanted, was some quality shifts out of ‘em, and they gave us that.”

Nylander, McCarron, Ritchie, Rantanen highlight AHL All-Star roster

This year’s annual AHL All-Star Classic is all about the kids.

The game, set to be in Syracuse on Feb. 1, will feature a number of recent first-round draft picks — 10 in total, to be exact — and a number of first-time participants as well.

Among the notables?

Well, let’s start with Toronto’s William Nylander — the eighth overall pick in ’14. He currently sits second in the American League in scoring, with 34 points in 27 games. There’s also another ’14 first-rounder in Anaheim’s Nick Ritchie (10th overall), who has 20 points in 21 games for the San Diego Gulls.

Montreal big man Michael McCarron, who made his big-league debut earlier this year, is also in the mix. McCarron, the 25th overall pick in ’13, is the top goalscorer for AHL St. John’s, with 13.

Then, of course, there’s the lone first-round pick from last June’s entry draft — Mikko Rantanen.

The Avs prospect, taken 10th overall in ’15, has been terrific for San Antonio this season. Rantanen is tied for the team lead in scoring, with 26 points in 26 games, not bad for one of the youngest players on the American League circuit.

The rosters, in full:

Atlantic Division

G Matt Murray, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st appearance)
G Anthony Stolarz, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (1st)
D Connor Carrick, Hershey Bears (2nd)
D Ryan Graves, Hartford Wolf Pack (1st)
D Derrick Pouliot, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2nd)
D Ryan Pulock, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1st)
F Chris Bourque, Hershey Bears (4th)
F Nick Cousins, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (1st)
F Seth Griffith, Providence Bruins (1st)
F Dustin Jeffrey, Springfield Falcons (2nd)
F Rob Schremp, Portland Pirates (2nd)
F Dominik Simon, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)
F Joe Whitney, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (3rd)
Coach: Jay Leach, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)

North Division

G Yann Danis, Albany Devils (3rd appearance)
G Kristers Gudlevskis, Syracuse Crunch (1st)
D Mark Barberio, St. John’s IceCaps (3rd)
D T.J. Brennan, Toronto Marlies (3rd)
D Michael Kostka, Binghamton Senators (1st)
D Matt Taormina, Syracuse Crunch (2nd)
F Mike Angelidis (“C”), Syracuse Crunch (1st)
F Josh Leivo, Toronto Marlies (1st)
F Michael McCarron, St. John’s IceCaps (1st)
F William Nylander, Toronto Marlies (1st)
F Cal O’Reilly, Rochester Americans (4th)
F Hunter Shinkaruk, Utica Comets (1st)
F Mike Sislo, Albany Devils (1st)
Coach: Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Marlies (1st)

Central Division

G Connor Hellebuyck, Manitoba Moose (2nd appearance)
G Michael Leighton, Rockford IceHogs (4th)
D Andre Benoit, Chicago Wolves (1st)
D Trevor Carrick, Charlotte Checkers (1st)
D Gustav Olofsson, Iowa Wild (1st)
D Xavier Ouellet, Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
F Pat Cannone, Chicago Wolves (1st)
F Frederick Gaudreau, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
F Ryan Hartman, Rockford IceHogs (1st)
F Jeff Hoggan (“C”), Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
F Vladislav Kamenev, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
F Derek Ryan, Charlotte Checkers (1st)
F Kerby Rychel, Lake Erie Monsters (1st)
Coach: Dean Evason, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)

Pacific Division

G Laurent Brossoit, Bakersfield Condors (1st appearance)
G Peter Budaj, Ontario Reign (1st)
D Brad Hunt, Bakersfield Condors (3rd)
D Esa Lindell, Texas Stars (1st)
D Vincent LoVerde, Ontario Reign (1st)
D Brandon Montour, San Diego Gulls (1st)
F Barclay Goodrow, San Jose Barracuda (1st)
F Derek Grant, Stockton Heat (1st)
F Michael Mersch, Ontario Reign (1st)
F Travis Morin, Texas Stars (2nd)
F Brendan Ranford, Texas Stars (1st)
F Mikko Rantanen, San Antonio Rampage (1st)
F Nick Ritchie, San Diego Gulls (1st)
Coach: Mike Stothers, Ontario Reign (4th)