Jarret Stoll’s status still unclear on eve of West finals
CHICAGO — Center Jarret Stoll, who has been out of the Kings’ lineup since he suffered a concussion in the opener of the team’s second-round playoff series against San Jose, practiced for a while on a regular line Friday as the Kings prepared to open the Western Conference finals Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
However, Stoll did not absorb any contact — the next step in concussion recovery before returning to action — and it’s not clear whether he will play in Game 1. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter declined to provide an update on Stoll’s condition when asked Friday at a pre-series news conference held at a hotel near O’Hare Airport.
The NHL does not require teams to disclose injury information, and most are secretive on the subject for fear of giving opponents a possible edge. That secrecy is even tighter during the playoffs.
Stoll, wearing a purple jersey, centered on Friday for Dwight King and Trevor Lewis, who had been his linemates before the injury. However, winger Tyler Toffoli also wore a purple jersey and joined in some rushes with King and Lewis as the Kings skated in a rink in Bensenville, a suburb west of Chicago.
Judging by the lines Sutter deployed in practice, it appears that Dustin Brown will rejoin Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams on the left side of what had been the team’s top line. Brown had been replaced by Kyle Clifford and had moved to the third line with King and Lewis.
Clifford was in a yellow jersey, as were Jordan Nolan and Brad Richardson. The line of Dustin Penner-Mike Richards-Jeff Carter remained intact.
Brown said the line combinations are less important than the final score.
“At the end of the day it’s about giving ourselves as a team the best chance to win. It’s not about where the individuals play or who you’re playing with. It’s about giving the team the best opportunity to win,” he said.
“I went down to the third line with Kinger and Lewie and obviously the big hole’s there with Stollie being out. I thought we were really effective against the San Jose third line and put a lot of pressure on them, and I think we were pretty effective in the two games I played down there. And it’s just a matter of finding that balance, getting guys going on different aspects of their game. I thought it was a good change at the time. It kind of gave the Sharks a different look, something to think about.
“At the end of the day we had some wins we needed to win the series. Again, it’s about the best possible lineup for any particular game.”
General Manager Dean Lombardi said Brown’s acceptance of different roles — and different positions — sets a good example for the team.
“When your captain is willing to do anything he’s asked — left wing, right wing — it sends a huge message about winning,” Lombardi said. “It’s not about, ‘What’s for me?’”
The defense pairs appeared to be the same as they have been lately, with Rob Scuderi paired with Slava Voynov, Jake Muzzin with Matt Greene, and newly re-signed Robyn Regehr with Drew Doughty.
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