As 50th anniversary celebrations go, the one underway among the Los Angeles Kings has been a notable bust thus far.
The Kings, who were one-sixth of the NHL’s notable expansion in 1967, are celebrating a half-century on the ice this season. That celebration has included two losses in the first two games, and the loss of their star goaltender indefinitely.
The Kings (0-2-0) head off on their first multi-game road trip of the season looking not only for wins, but for answers about who may step up to fill the defensive void left when goalie Jonathan Quick went down in the opening period of their first game of the season. He’s expected to miss weeks, if not months, due to an ailment in the groin area, and has given way to the tandem of Jeff Zatkoff and Peter Budaj in the Los Angeles crease.
One of those two will look to stymie the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday when the Kings visit the Twin Cities. Los Angeles also be looking for goal support from an offense that has scored three times in the first two games.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter faces that challenge along with trying to get his team into a rhythm of practices and games early in a new season as they venture outside California for the first time.
“After a day off, which is obviously required now, you’re trying to get the flow,” Sutter told LA Kings Insider. “You get to know your players in terms of how they are after a day off. Some guys, even though they need the rest, they’re not as sharp the next day. Some days just go right through it.”
On the opposing bench, Sutter will see a familiar face from Southern California on Tuesday. Bruce Boudreau will be coaching his third game for the Wild, after coming to Minnesota in the off-season when the Anaheim Ducks dismissed him. He had spent four full seasons in Orange County and won the Pacific Division in each of them.
Minnesota (1-1-0) looked lifeless in its season opener, falling 3-2 in St. Louis. When the Wild fell behind Winnipeg 2-0 after 20 minutes in their home opener, Boudreau offered some harsh words in the locker room.
His team responded with four unanswered goals and its first win. It was a milestone for the new coach, who is instilling his style of play on a team that’s nearly identical to the one which lost to Dallas in the opening round of the playoffs last spring.
“They’re getting it,” Boudreau said. “Hockey’s not brain surgery. … Play the game.”
Tuesday’s game will mark the return of Devin Setoguchi to Minnesota. The Kings right winger played 117 games for the Wild between 2011 and 2013 after coming over from San Jose in a controversial trade that sent All-Star defenseman Brent Burns to the Sharks.
After spending last season in Europe, Setoguchi is back in the NHL with Los Angeles but has yet to record a point in the first two games.
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