It’s nervous time, and not just for Toffoli

Tyler Toffoli in Manchester

Tyler Toffoli in Manchester (2/2013) Photo: Scott Slingsby

By Paul Armbruster • •

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 and I discuss
his reasoning behind Toffoli’s insertion into the lineup.

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  • CB14

    I’m fine with the changes Sutters made on defense and forward. Martinez hadn’t been playing well in the games prior to switch with DD2. Penner has been solid lately, but he’s had some golden opportunities to put the puck in the net lately, and he hasn’t been able to convert them. Toffoli was bound to play at some point, regardless of what Sutter said, there was no way Toffoli was going to sit his ass in the press box the entire time he’s here.

    I agree with you regarding Sutters poor decisions with the Goalies. I don’t understand his reasoning behind the choices in net he makes. If Quick is your #1 goalie, then you play Bernier in the 2nd night of the back to back games. Sutter didn’t do that. If you’re going to start Quick both games of the back to back, then you’re saying “I’m going with the hot goalie”, (I don’t agree with it, but whatever). That way of choosing your goalie is fine, but then you don’t start him again the next game after he wasn’t sharp against Phoenix. Sutter needs to be more consistant with his decision making.

  • I have had similar thoughts.
    Scoring hasn’t been the elephant in the room.
    I know TT is a good PK kid (from reading anyways)
    So my only thought is, our PK hasnt been as fresh and he needs to play at somepoint.

    Time will tell, but yes it is an odd decision now.

  • KC23

    Our PK has sucked lately. TT has a history of being excellent on the PK. Makes sense to me. I agree that DS mismanaged the goalies in the last week, but hind sight is 20/20. I also agree that DS is being unreasonable with Martinez it seems. Martinez is being asked to be paired with our weakest defensemen. Muzzin is playing with DD and Voynov with Scudes … Big difference.

  • Staring at the lineup for tonight, I see Cliffy netting one or two.

    • Michael J.

      I vote for two.

    • KC23

      Dang Mars … very impressive call!

    • nicely done sir

    • Kingsfanone

      Marstradamous it is. Good call there!

  • Michael J.

    I’m guessing that the thinking is that by adding Toffoli into the lineup gives the Kings more scoring depth, and an increased possibility of playing with the lead rather than playing catch-up. Playing with the lead should take some pressure off the young defense corps too.
    Moving Penns down also increases the offensive potential (potential not output) of the four lines. I like the move… right now I do 😉

    • KC23

      Bottom line is Toffoli is gonna put points on the boards. Nolan is not. Nolan is gonna occasionally keep the other team’s bullys in check, but not put points on the board.

      The extra scoring that Toffoli will clearly bring is an upgrade over Nolan. We do lose some size and grit, but we gain quite a bit of depth in scoring imho.

  • Paul.
    You Ok? Maybe just drunk today? (St. Paddys)

    Slow news day and I am cookin up a storm. On the blogs and my CB&C.

    • Paul Armbruster

      Ha! Yeah been a real rough day. Didn’t even know it was St. Patricks day. I could certainly use a drink though. There is my practice vid from today on the front page ticker.

      • Kingsfanone

        And you probably didn’t wear green today either? Did she pinch you?

      • Kingsfanone

        Oh. Love the edit choice with timer! Tic toc.

        • Paul Armbruster

          Not bad, eh? Added ratings too and some polls coming our way.