By Paul Armbruster • KingsNewsDaily.com •
Tyler Toffoli’s debut with the Los Angeles Kings is only hours away and admittedly, he’s nervous. If he wasn’t nervous, he wouldn’t be human. But as I sat watching him this morning at the pregame skate, I couldn’t help but feel some nerves myself about the game tonight.
I see this lineup change as a mistake at this point in time that I hope doesn’t have ramifications down the line as this short season gets rapidly shorter with each passing day. And while I admittedly could be making more of this than what it is, I do see a trend of troubling personnel decisions of late starting with giving Jonathan Quick the back-to-back start against the Coyotes on Tuesday after two solid games against the Flames. Quick gave up a couple of goals he wished he could get back and the Coyotes went on to win 5-2.
Instead of correcting for that error, Quick was given his 5th straight start against the Sharks on Thursday where he was pulled after giving up 3 goals. It was the first time the Kings had lost 2 in a row since the infamous loss to Detroit with 5 seconds remaining with Quick in net.
Jonathan Bernier, finally, gets a start tonight against the Sharks.
The other curious decision after the Flames win was benching Alec Martinez in favor of Davis Drewiske against the Yotes. Martinez, coming off his injury, was publicly criticized by Sutter, who only gave him 12:08 of ice time in the 2nd win over Calgary. Sutter then put in a rusty Whiskey against the Yotes but only gave him 12:55 on the ice in the loss. Both were a -1 in those games. With Martinez back in against the Sharks on Thursday, he saw his time leap to 18:40 but again, finished with a -1.
Martinez will play again against the Sharks tonight.
Now that Sutter’s attempts at helping Quick find his groove and motivate Martinez back into game shape have backfired, he’s now tinkering with the forwards who have been the main reason for the Kings recent success sans the last two games. On the chopping block this time is Jordan Nolan, who will be out of the Kings lineup for the first time since March 9th of last year. His playing time has been largely held under 10 minutes but saw his lowest amount of ice time against Phoenix on Tuesday with just 3:45.
I won’t belabor the point other than to say, why mess with a relatively good thing now? These last two losses have largely been the fault of some very bad goals and defensive plays. Is it really a good time to bring in a kid who has never played a game in the NHL? Certainly he isn’t expected to be the answer to the problems the Kings have had this week. Do you see this as simply a way of shaking things up? Or could this be another decision that ends up costing the Kings as they vie for a playoff spot?
Here’s tonight’s expected lineup:
Taking Penner and putting him on the 4th line signals yet another ebb in the Dustin tide in the eyes of Sutter. And by experimenting with Toffoli on the Richards/Carter line you put Carter back at center when he’s been so hot on the wing. Not to mention the size factor with Richards and Toffoli being on the smaller side, the Sharks are going to come after them physically.
Toffoli’s time will come. I’m almost certain of that. And while I hope he has an absolutely fantastic game tonight, I’m just not so sure now is the right time for his debut. Like Tyler said this morning, “we’ll see how the game goes.”
Here’s Part 1 of my pregame report from today
showing Toffoli skating with Carter and Richards.
In Part 2, Player-X from HoldThePoint.com and I discuss
his reasoning behind Toffoli’s insertion into the lineup.