It appears that an ailing Adrian Kempe will be a game-time decision when the Kings go for a franchise-record tying nine straight wins Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils.
Kempe did not participate in the morning skate at Prudential Center. Kings coach John Stevens said Kempe stayed at the hotel and was “starting to get his appetite back” but that his status for the game was uncertain.
“He was a little ill on the plane [Monday],” Stevens said.
Torrey Mitchell took Kempe’s place as third-line center, with Marian Gaborik and Trevor Lewis, in morning line rushes. It appears that Kyle Clifford will return to the lineup from an upper-body injury that has kept him out since the third game of the season, on a hit against the Calgary Flames. He skated on a line with Jussi Jokinen and Jonny Brodzinski.
The Kings would not have to make a roster move to activate Clifford because he would bring them to the 23-man limit.
Clifford has been skating for weeks and sounded eager to play again. He’s been quite visible off the ice as he jokingly asked a question during teammate Christian Folin’s media session in Chicago and also video-bombed Kings television analyst Jim Fox.
“Just being around the guys, you want to do everything you can to keep the spirits up, especially we’ve got young guys too, so it’s just helping the group be prepared for the matchups they’re going to face,” Clifford said.
New Jersey coach John Hynes praised the Kings and their cornerstone players, who will be looking to tie the franchise record for consecutive wins set in January-February of 2010.
“They have a lot of talent,” Hynes said. “They play a pretty structured game, and I think when you look at their team, they have superstars at every position — in goal, on the blue line, up front. [A] very competitive team, strong on the puck, big, so we know we’ve got a big challenge ahead.”
Hynes said Marcus Johansson (ankle) won’t play. The Devils are also missing Kyle Palmieri (foot). Ben Lovejoy and Dalton Prout skated as extras. Goalie Cory Schneider is expected to start.
Kings fans remember Schneider from the 2012 Western Conference first round, when he was with the Vancouver Canucks. Schneider is 4-4 with a 2.19 goals-against average in his regular-season career against the Kings.