The timing with Carl Hagelin has been anything but ideal this season.
Five games into his Kings career, he sprained his knee, depriving the team of a supreme penalty killer. His return might come one game after the Kings were torched by the NHL’s best power play.
The Kings could have used Hagelin against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. Instead, Hagelin could re-join the Kings on Saturday after he skated on a line with Adrian Kempe and Tyler Toffoli in practice Friday and said, “I should be ready to go.”
Hagelin has not played since Nov. 24, when an innocent play against the Vancouver Canucks turned out to be a long-term injury just after his arrival from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade for Tanner Pearson.
“You come to a new team, and you want to get to know the guys, get to know the team, the system, and all of a sudden you get hurt and you miss a ton of time,” Hagelin said. “It’s obviously frustrating when it happened, but I’m a positive person. I need to stay positive. It’s one of those things [where] you’ve got to work on other things when you’re hurt. Hopefully, come back now and help the team get some wins.”
The injury interrupted the initial chemistry that Hagelin formed with Swedish countryman Kempe, who drives center ice well while Hagelin forechecks on the left side.
“We fed off each other’s speed, and hopefully we can continue doing that, so I’m going to try and keep up with him when I come back,” Hagelin said.
The trainers’ room wasn’t the place where Hagelin envisioned getting to know his new teammates, but that’s how he’s spent the last month because it coincided with numerous other injured teammates beside him.
“At one time I think we were eight or nine guys,” Hagelin said. “We worked out together. We were in the rehab room together. That was nice. You still feel like you’re part of the team, especially, for me, as a new guy. It definitely kept my mood a little lighter.”
Kovalchuk on top line
Coach Willie Desjardins altered the other lines and showed Ilya Kovalchuk with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown on the top line in practice.
Former coach John Stevens tried Kovalchuk with Kopitar in the preseason and first six games of the regular season, but that was soon abandoned. Desjardins, who caused a stir when he reduced Kovalchuk’s role in late November, is open to trying Kovalchuk there. He has played the Russian veteran more than 14 minutes in each of the last four games.
“He can play in a number of different of spots, which is good for us,” Desjardins said. “Now it will be interesting with Kopitar. Those are two real skilled guys. There’s a bit of a match there. Both think the game well.”
Alec Martinez (upper-body injury) skated in the fourth defensive pairing, with Paul LaDue, and said he had no update on his status. … Trevor Lewis is probably “at least two to three weeks away” from returning from a broken foot, Desjardins said. … The Fox Sports West broadcast will use the “glow puck” feature Saturday, in which the puck is highlighted, as part of “90s Night.”
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: iHeartRadio (LA Kings Audio Network).