SAN JOSE, Calif.- With the suspensions, accusations, injuries, roster moves and banter mostly behind them, the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks will take the ice tonight for game 2 of what has already lived up to its billing as a battle royale on ice.
Kings center Jarret Stoll was suspended for this game for his hit on Ian White. Friday, Kings Head Coach Terry Murray suggested that a suspension should also have been handed down to Jason Demers for his shot on Ryan Smyth.
Today, Sharks winger Ryane Clowe scoffed at the statement by Murray. Clowe suggested Dustin Brown’s first-period hit behind the net on Dan Boyle was similar enough to consider Murray’s assessment to be selective.
For Demers’s part, he said he launched forward and wound up catching Smyth high, but that there was no malice or vengeful action behind the hit.
“The series is gonna be like that and you can’t change it. There’s a lot of big hitters on this team and on the other side,” Demers said. ” With how fast the game is and how hard we’re all playing, for sure, sometimes you might catch a guy in a bad spot.”
Murray seemed eager to move on from Friday’s exchange for the most part, but did explain that his comments were a response to Sharks Head Coach McClellan’s answer to a question asked about the Stoll hit at the news conference after game 1.
Smyth said he felt there should have been a penalty called but did not offer an assessment of the hit’s suspension-worthiness, stating he did not watch any replay of the hit.
McLellan said he was confident that since it was not a penalty there should not have been a suspension either. McLellan caught himself quickly, realizing there was no penalty on the Stoll hit either, and he went on to say that the league’s supplementary discipline network looked at the play before opting not to punish the hit in any way. Smyth was not injured and said confidently that he felt fine.
White will not play tonight nor has he skated since his injury late in the first period of game 1. He sustained a concussion but said today that he has not experienced any severe symptoms. He remained optimistic about a return later in this series and expected to travel with the team to Los Angeles for Tuesday’s game 3.
He will continue to undergo physical testing, psychiatric evaluations and other precautionary measures to avoid rushing him back into a series with high tempo, high stakes and even some high hits.
Stoll spoke with White by phone and there seemed to be absolutely no acrimony between the two players.
“It was just kind of the wrong place at the wrong time for both of us. He got me square in the head with his forearm. I know he feels bad about it and I don’t hold anything against him,” White said.
McLellan said White’s replacement will be a game-time decision. Kent Huskins, who has not played since Feb. 19 due to injury, is available, as is the rookie Justin Braun.
For the Kings, their recall of John Zeiler proved unsuccessful due to the short notice on Stoll’s suspension. Zeiler was unable to clear re-entry waivers and thus will remain in Manchester.
Oscar Moller will now play a bit out of position to center the fourth line with Trevor Lewis moving up to take Stoll’s spot between Justin Williams and Smyth. A right winger by trade, Moller has at least some experience at center.
The slight yet slick Moller puts another right-handed shot in the L.A. lineup to replace Stoll. Although he is unlikely to play Stoll’s right-point position, Murray expects him to see some time on the power play and give the fourth line some extra skill at even strength.
“He’s just going to have to make sure we’re not getting him matched up against a couple of their big guys. If that’s what the look is, we’ll have to get him off the ice right away,” Murray said. “But he can play the game, he’s a very capable player.”
The Los Angeles captain Brown lifted his team and spurred their abrupt turnaround in the second period with a series of physical shifts in which he got a piece of anyone in a black jersey.
Coach Murray said smoother breakouts, stronger middle-lane drives on the rush and better support on the fore-check were all on the agenda during meetings and practices in the past two days.
McLellan and the San Jose captain Joe Thornton discussed the importance of better consistency, more offensive pressure and improved performance in the faceoff circle.
The series promises to continue to be physical with every confrontation offering a little something extra in all areas of the ice. The Los Angeles enforcer Kevin Westgarth turned in a strong effort in game 1. He said he hoped to continue to reward Murray’s confidence in him between the whistles, but that he remained ready for any extracirricular action.
“After the whistle, inevitably, in the playoffs, is a little tenuous. I just gotta make sure that they know I’m there,” said the former Princeton Tiger Westgarth. “If they wanna bring it, they know where to come.”