Tyler Toffoli knows he and Kings teammates are auditioning to keep their jobs
Even Tyler Toffoli had to laugh.
Just before he was about to take a faceoff against the Dallas Stars, Toffoli tried to explain to the referee that his stick was broken and he needed a new one. But Toffoli first had to take the faceoff, and as soon as he bent down and put weight on the stick, it snapped and he fell to the ice in a heap.
The pratfall quickly made the rounds and was included in the NHL Network’s highlight package. That’s probably why, Toffoli said, former teammates Tanner Pearson and Andy Andreoff texted him about it.
“I think it’s hilarious,” said Toffoli, who said the same thing happened to teammate Jeff Carter a few years ago so “I guess it’s justice coming back to me.”
It was one light moment in a season of misery, and Toffoli would like nothing more than to continue making highlights, for hockey plays, of course, in a black-and-white jersey. He was one of several Kings’ players who exhaled after the trade deadline passed Monday. Toffoli’s name briefly surfaced that day but nothing materialized.
That could change in the offseason. Toffoli agreed with Carter’s assessment that “we’re all playing for jobs” in the final five weeks.
“I think once the season ends, the exact same rumors are going to kick back up again,” Toffoli said. “I don’t have any expectations. I want to stay here and that’s what my goal is. I have the rest of the season to kind of prove myself and prove that I want to be here.”
Toffoli is the first to recognize his production is down. He’s on pace for 15 goals, his fewest in a full season. He’s been afflicted with hot and cold spells. Toffoli ended a seven-game point-less streak Thursday.
But he has a history of scoring and could be pursued as a finisher at right wing. Toffoli would rather finish his career with the Kings, and that desire extends beyond hockey. He’s involved in Kings’ community events and has made Los Angeles home, right down to being a Dodgers fan.
“Whenever you have your roots kind of planted down, you don’t want to get that ripped out underneath you,” Toffoli said.
Toffoli is aware that this season has threatened that ground. He’s seen good friends and teammates such as Pearson and Jake Muzzin traded, and the Kings’ spiral has no end. Their 10-game losing streak (0-6-4) is tied for the second-longest in franchise history.
This final stretch is a last chance to make an impression.
“We’re all playing for our jobs,” Toffoli said. “We’re playing for being an L.A. King. Obviously, it’s been a really frustrating season. We all want to be a King and we haven’t performed to what being a Los Angeles King” is about. “We definitely have some searching to do here the rest of the season and going into next year as well.”
Ilya Kovalchuk (upper-body injury) should be “good to go” for Saturday, coach Willie Desjardins said … Alec Martinez (upper body) practiced in a red no-contact jersey … The Jr. Kings won the Quebec International Pee-Wee Tournament, a 32-team event regarded as hockey’s version of the Little League World Series. They are only the second California team to win the tournament’s 12-year-old AAA division.
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
On Air: TV: FSW; Radio: iHeartRadio (LA Kings Audio Network)
Update: Chicago’s Patrick Kane is on a 19-game road point streak. He is the first player with a streak that long since Pat LaFontaine and Mario Lemieux in 1989-90. Kane had 11 goals and 23 points in February. The Kings last went 11 games without a win in March and April of 2004.
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