Team to stand pat at goalie
The NHL’s holiday trade freeze ends at midnight local time tonight, but General Manager Dean Lombardi said Friday he’s not planning to look for a goaltender -- for now.
About a month ago the Kings were discussing a multi-team deal that would have brought Nikolai Khabibulin from Chicago, but the trade fell apart when one team tried to switch a player in the mix.
There isn’t much out there, anyway, Lombardi said. “You hear of any goalies available that I’m not hearing of?” he asked, joking.
Goaltending remains a key issue for the Kings. They’ve generally been limiting opponents’ shots, but their team save percentage has been under 90. The Boston Bruins lead the league at 93% and top teams are at 91% or better.
Lombardi said his priority was to assess the progress of Jonathan Quick, who was promoted from Manchester of the American Hockey League after Erik Ersberg pulled a groin muscle. Quick on Friday made his third straight start.
“I’m going to watch this guy here,” Lombardi said during the morning skate. “The intention is to see where he’s at.”
Ersberg skated Friday for the first time since he was injured Dec. 15 and said he felt good, so Coach Terry Murray planned to bring him to Phoenix to take part in today’s game-day skate. Center Brad Richardson (lacerated foot) was to see a doctor Friday and will travel if he’s cleared to practice.
Jack back soon?
Lombardi said defenseman Jack Johnson is “a little ahead of schedule” and might make an early return from shoulder surgery. Johnson was hurt in the Kings’ second game and wasn’t expected back before the All-Star break.
Johnson will have to face the psychological hurdle of taking -- and giving -- hits. Lombardi said he must also become more disciplined.
“The thing about Jack is we’re very structured in our own end,” Lombardi said. “We still have lapses like we did in Detroit at critical moments. . . . but we’re starting to see the way we want to play in our own end and that’s something he needs to get better at. At Michigan he played like a rover.
“If he can get that cleaned up, and then he starts doing the things that get you up ice, hopefully we get a little boost. Sometimes the good thing about injuries is when you get a guy back it’s almost like making a trade without giving anything up.”
As of late Friday afternoon the Kings had sold 15,000 seats at $11.50 each to their six January home games, part of a “rush” promotion that ends tonight at 11:59 p.m.
Chris McGowan, the team’s chief marketing officer, said lower-bowl seats were selling so quickly that the $11.50 price was put into effect for Monday’s game against Columbus.
“We wanted to do something that was a limited promotion that we felt would expose the team to people that hadn’t been buying,” he said. “In order to do anything in this marketplace you’ve got to go big.”
He acknowledged that “lots” of season-ticket holders were angry to see prices slashed for seats they bought long ago at full price but said others understood the need to lure fans into the arena. He said season-ticket holders will continue to get “value” in perks such as sessions with players and executives.
“You try to load up as much as possible on season-ticket holder benefits because occasionally you’re going to have to load up on exposure promotions, which is what this is,” he said.
Drew drawn to world juniors
Doughty planned to follow the world junior championships, which began Friday in Ottawa. He helped Canada win its fourth straight title in the last tournament.
“Even though I’d rather be here it would be great to be there, at the same time,” he said. “It was awesome. I haven’t really had a better hockey moment in my life than winning that gold medal. It was pretty amazing and great to be part of that team.”
A year ago he didn’t imagine he’d be with the Kings and become a candidate for rookie of the year.
“It’s kind of weird,” he said. “It’s always been my dream to play in the NHL, but I didn’t think it would come true this quickly. It’s been awesome so far and I wouldn’t do anything differently.”
Four Kings prospects are playing. Defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov scored a power-play goal in Russia’s 4-1 win over Latvia and Oscar Moller, who made the Kings but was released to play for Sweden, missed a penalty shot in a 3-1 victory over Finland. Defensemen Colten Teubert and Thomas Hickey didn’t score in Canada’s 8-1 rout of the Czech Republic.