The injury saga has dogged the Kings in ruthless fashion into November.
They could be without one of the NHL’s best players, team captain Anze Kopitar, for Sunday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter called Kopitar “day-to-day,” and it is clear they won’t take any chances with the star center who was injured Friday in Ottawa. He appeared to be injured in the arm-wrist area after incidental contact along the boards in the third period.
One option is to have Trevor Lewis take Kopitar’s spot on the top line.
The team also had to get a backup goaltender to Canada for the afternoon game against the Jets. Goalie Jeff Zatkoff suffered a groin spasm, according to Sutter, which ended Zatkoff’s night after two periods in Ottawa, in an eventual 2-1 loss to the Senators.
Fortunately, for the Kings, their American Hockey League team, the Ontario Reign, is traveling in the Midwest. They were at Iowa on Saturday and were to face Rockford, Ill., on Sunday. This meant goalie Jack Campbell was in range and the Kings called him up on an emergency basis.
“Somehow, he’s got to get here. Plane, automobile,” Sutter said Saturday before the official recall. “If he’s in the Midwest, it’s not that far to Winnipeg.”
He added, joking: “Hell, I could drive to the border and get him.”
Coach and chauffeur.
Sutter remains deeply frustrated by the injury issues. Zatkoff first hurt his groin during a morning skate on Oct. 22 and Friday’s start was his first since then.
“Is it what it was last time? No,” Sutter said. “The thing with goaltending [njuries] — it’s something I’ve said before — it’s run through our organization for two years. It’s a two-year thing.
“[Campbell] is our only [option]. It’s frustrating because you want him playing [for Ontario]. That’s why we signed him, because he’s a prospect.”
With Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller missing some of the Kings’ longer trips, the team assembled an All-Star cast of play-by-play announcers to fill in this season. The first “newcomer” to Kings broadcasts is a multiple Emmy winner and an experienced and eloquent hockey voice, Gary Thorne.
You never would have known it had been years since Thorne called an NHL game when he was back in the booth, working with analyst Jim Fox, on Tuesday in Toronto. Thorne is on the rest of this five-game trip, which ends Tuesday in Denver, and will do three more games in December.
Apparently, the getting-back-on-a-bicycle analogy works here too.
“It really kind of surprised me,” Thorne said on Thursday in Montreal. “The first five minutes and then it is more about the routine and the broadcast than it is about the game. Every broadcast has a routine and a flow and you kind of have to get into that.
“But it was exceedingly easy. I got up after the first period [in Toronto] and it felt like it was last year since I had last done this.”
Thorne went to the Kings-Calgary Flames game in Los Angeles before the trip to talk to Miller and Sutter for the purpose of on-site homework.
Someone teased Thorne that he may not be allowed to leave after the Kings defeated Toronto, 7-0.
“If they score seven goals a game, I’ve got a good shot at being around as a mascot,” he said, chuckling.
When: Sunday, 11 a.m.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.
Update: Jets defenseman Tyler Myers was injured in the third period and did not return Friday in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche. The team called it a lower-body injury. The Jets did not practice Saturday, but the Kings had an optional session at MTS Center.
Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter @reallisa