The Kings have been through this well-worn script before, dealing with the loss of a front-line player.
Then again, hasn’t almost every other team in the NHL?
This time, they will have to adapt without the services of forward Jeff Carter, who is expected to be placed on injured reserve because of a lower-body injury. Kings players spotted Carter on Friday morning in a walking boot, and he has had foot and ankle issues in the past.
“He’s been a key part of our team since he’s been here,” said Kings captain Dustin Brown. “Again, it’s an opportunity for other guys to step up whether it’s offensively or on the” penalty kill.
“There are just more minutes. Again, I think that’s the strength of our team. We’ve played without [Mike Richards]. We’ve played without [Anze Kopitar]. It’s just a matter of having the depth to battle through it.”
Carter was hurt in Wednesday’s overtime victory against the San Jose Sharks. The Kings did not practice on Thursday. One of his teammates thought the injury occurred when Carter was hit by a shot from another King player.
The Kings are expected to bring up youngsters Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli from their minor-league affiliate in Manchester, N.H. That move could happen later today or Saturday.
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi has been scouting the kids in depth and continues to praise the development of Vey, Toffoli and left winger Tanner Pearson.
“They are all playing well –- the other two have a little more seniority now,” Lombardi said via email Friday.
The effort to replace Carter will be by committee, of course.
“It’s definitely a loss for us,” Kopitar said. “That’s the way it is. We’re going to have to find a way to score goals, put up points and win hockey games. So, with him or without him, we’re going to have to do that. But it’s certainly a loss.
Carter has nine points in 14 games and is tied for the team’s goal-scoring lead with Justin Williams with five goals. Kopitar was asked if he felt the need to shoulder the extra burden in Carter’s absence.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “We have the confidence of everybody in here to pick up whatever needs to be picked up. Personally, we go out there and do the same stuff over and over again. That’s all I can do and that’s all everybody else can do.”
He didn’t know about the Carter injury until Friday morning.
“I saw him walking in with a boot,” Kopitar said.