The Andrei Loktionov experiment is over, for now anyway. The Kings have sent their young forward down to their AHL affiliate in Manchester.
His demotion opens the door for a couple things. Scott Parse, a left wing who has been out since the preseason with a groin injury, is ready to return to the lineup. He has been practicing with first-liners Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, the spot Loktionov occupied for a few games.
Loktionov’s departure also bodes well for the immediate NHL futures of rookie forwards Brayden Schenn and/or Kyle Clifford, both of whom are too young to be sent down to the AHL. The Kings must decide whether to keep one or both 19-year-olds after they’ve appeared in nine games, or send them back to their junior teams. Schenn has appeared in eight games and Clifford seven.
If the Kings keep either player beyond their ninth game, the Kings are on the hook for the first year of their NHL contracts. Kings coach Terry Murray has been adamant in his desire to keep both on the roster, but knows the decision will also involve the front office.
"Both guys are moving along very well," Murray said.
No changes to the goalie rotation
Before the season, Murray mapped out his goalie rotation through Dec. 31, planning for Jonathan Quick to start approximately 75% of the games and backup Jonathan Bernier the rest.
But few could have expected Quick to get off to such a phenomenal start.
Quick is tied for the league lead with seven victories, is third with a .936 save percentage and fourth with a goals-against average of 1.84.
Bernier, meanwhile, has struggled to a 1-2 start this season, owning a .910 save percentage and a 2.68 goals-against average, neither of which would rank in the top 20 if he officially qualified in those categories.
Murray was asked if he planned to make any adjustments to his goalie schedule, given the success Quick is having.
"It doesn’t change anything that I planned before the season started," he said. "I mapped it out, in pencil mind you, but it’s mapped out through the start of the new year, and I’m going to follow that plan right now. Both goalies are young and hungry and want to play every game, I know, but we’re going to stick with what we have in place, with Quick playing a majority of them."
Defense needs more offense
The Kings have just one goal by a defensemen this season and that came on fortuitous bounce off the skate of a Dallas defender.
"I thought we’d have more on the back end," Murray said. "We have to improve in that area."
The absence of Drew Doughty has been felt in the scoring column. The Kings had four goals from their defensemen through 11 games last season and half were from Doughty, who is on schedule to return from a concussion Thursday against visiting Tampa Bay, but still must pass a cognitive test.
The defense has contributed to the scoring, however. Jack Johnson has a team-high eight assists, including seven on the power play.
Third-line forward Alexei Ponikarovsky did not practice Tuesday due to the flu.
Here's a pretty cool in-house video showing the Kings returning to their locker room after their latest victory Saturday night against New Jersey. That's Kevin Westgarth making a bid for a role on the next Dancing with the Stars.