Andrei Loktionov dumps the puck into the zone while being pursued by Jay… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )
VANCOUVER, Canada—The Kings will make one lineup change Friday night for Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, who will make one change up front and one on defense.
The Kings will deploy forward Andrei Loktionov on their fourth line in place of Kyle Clifford, who apparently suffered a head injury when he was hit by Vancouver’s Byron Bitz in the Kings’ 4-2 series-opening victory. Bitz was suspended two games for the infraction and will be replaced by former Duck Andrew Ebbett.
The Canucks, who remain without concussed winger Daniel Sedin, are also expected to change their defense corps by pulling out Aaron Rome and replacing him with Keith Ballard.
Loktionov, 21, will make his NHL playoff debut alongside Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan. He was summoned from Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League last week after forward Brad Richardson had an emergency appendectomy.
Loktionov played 39 regular-season games for the Kings this season and had three goals and seven points. He had five goals and 20 points in 32 games with Manchester.
“I’m excited for the playoffs for my first game,” he said after the Kings’ game-day skate at Rogers Arena.
He also said he hadn’t been given any specific instructions about what will be expected of him.
“Nothing special,” he said. “I play I think with Fraser a couple of games and Nolie, I played with him in Manchester. So I know them.”
Fraser said the line’s role could change a bit because of the different elements that Clifford and Loktionov bring to the lineup.
“Obviously Cliffy is a physical presence and Lokti is more of a skill guy I guess,” Fraser said. “Obviously I wish Cliffy was playing but Lokti has been here long enough to know the systems and know what to do and know each of us individually and how we play.
“He’s played left wing throughout the season too, a little bit. So I think he’ll adjust fine. He’s a smart enough player and skilled enough player to know what to do.”
Coach Darryl Sutter juggled his lines late in Wednesday’s game because of Clifford’s injury but the combinations in Friday’s morning skate were the same as they’ve been recently. In addition to the Loktionov-Fraser-Nolan line, the other trios were Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams; Dustin Penner-Jarret Stoll-Trevor Lewis and Dwight King-Mike Richards-Jeff Carter.
The Kings’ first two goals on Wednesday were the products of power plays, and Sutter said he’d like to see better finishing while the teams are playing five-on-five. Which they didn’t do very often in Game 1: the Kings had 12 minutes and 36 seconds’ power-play time and the Canucks had 8:24. “They don’t give up many opportunities five on five. They’re a good hockey club,” Sutter said.
Most of the talk from the Canucks’ morning skate centered on the fact that Sedin was reported to have skated on his own before his teammates took to the ice. However, he didn’t practice and Coach Alain Vigneault said he had no updates to offer. Vigneault also said he couldn’t say if Sedin will travel with the team to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Wednesday.
The Canucks also said they’re going to try and stay out of the penalty box Friday night.
“They’re going to gain a lot of momentum from those power plays, especially with the way they’ve got a lot of guys who can hold onto pucks,” said Henrik Sedin, Daniel’s twin. “They can spend a minute and a half, two minutes in our end and it makes a lot of guys tired. It gets us out of the rhythm. That’s our main focus.”
The Kings, incidentally, plan to fly back to Los Angeles after Friday’s game and practice on Saturday in El Segundo at a time to be determined.
The practice facility will get crowded on Sunday because the Kings and the Canucks will have to hold their morning skates there. The Kings always hold game-day skates in El Segundo but visiting teams usually skate at Staples Center on the day of games. However, the arena won’t be available because the Lakers have a 12:30 p.m. tipoff against Dallas on Sunday.
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