May 22, 2022

Kings-Canadiens game reunites Tyler Toffoli, Phillip Danault with former teams

View Original Notice ? Kings-Canadiens game reunites Tyler Toffoli, Phillip Danault with former teams

Parallels abound in the Kings’ matchup with the Montreal Canadiens at Staples Center on Saturday, including the fact that Kings center Phillip Danault and Montreal winger Tyler Toffoli will be facing their former teams for the first time.

Danault, 28, played the better part of six seasons in Montreal, culminating with the highly improbable run to last year’s Stanley Cup Final, where the Habs fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He signed a six-year, $33 million contract with the Kings over the summer.

Toffoli, 29, debuted for the Kings in the 2012-13 season and remained until he was traded during the 2019-20 campaign. Toffoli was part of “that ’70s line” with Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson when the Kings won their second Stanley Cup in 2014. He scored a hat trick in his final game as a King at the 2020 Stadium Series event in Colorado Springs.

He first landed in Vancouver, then signed a four-year contract with Montreal. He rewarded Montreal handsomely, producing his best season ever in terms of points per game and goals per game.

Danault divulged on Friday that during last season’s Stanley Cup semifinals against Vegas on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, he did more than just set up Arturri Lehkonen’s series-clinching overtime goal.

Danault revealed that the night of that game, after which he also delivered pizza during the postgame news conference, he and his wife made strides toward another delivery, that of their second child, who was conceived that night.

Toffoli came to value Danault last season and was asked about seeing his former teammate again in a setting Toffoli knew intimately.

“There’s obviously a big reason why they signed him and gave him all that money, and I think he’s excited to be here,” Toffoli told reporters.

The two franchises have commonalities beyond reunited former teammates, unfortunately for both. The Kings (1-5-1) have lost six straight games and Montreal (2-6-0) started its season with five regulation losses in a row by a combined 19-4 margin. The Canadiens rebounded to win two of their last three games, including a 4-0 shutout of San Jose on Thursday.

Both teams have also been weakened significantly by the absence of driving forces and complementary pieces alike.

The Kings will be without top defenseman Drew Doughty and another gifted blue-liner, Sean Walker, for two months and the entire season, respectively. Their bottom-six forward group has been diminished by injuries to Lias Andersson, Andreas Athananasiou and Quinton Byfield, while winger Brendan Lemieux exited COVID protocol this week but has not yet returned to game action.

“(Doughty) is one of those guys you can’t replace. It’s not just him, it’s Walks, too. It’s like our two top defensemen are out and life goes on, we’ve got to get better and find a way to at least keep the boat afloat,” winger Dustin Brown said, adding that the absences represented opportunities for other players to “make a career.”

If Doughty’s absence is being felt by the Kings – they blew a lead in Dallas the night he was injured, then lost a pair of games by a combined score of 10-3 against St. Louis and most recently saw special teams falter against Winnipeg – imagine what Montreal has gone through without its captain and top defenseman, Shea Weber, and former Vezina and Hart Trophy-winning goalie Carey Price.

Weber’s recent injury history reads like an anatomy textbook with ailments in his thumb, knee, foot and ankle. Weber, 36, was regarded as one of the most difficult players in the league to play against because of his physical style of defense and thunderous slapshot. But Weber will not play this season, according to Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin’s statements, and has taken on other organizational duties of late.

“He retired, basically … everyone knows that now,” Montreal forward Jonathan Drouin told reporters earlier this week. “He’s not coming back for us, he’s moving on, and hockey, that’s over.”

Price has been on leave from the team, attending to what appear to be mental health concerns. The last goalie to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player, Hart was instrumental during their Cinderella run last season.

Drouin has been the Canadiens’ leading scorer this season with six points, while Toffoli has cooled a bit with three points in eight games. Jeff Petry, Montreal’s next most dependable defender, has been held scoreless thus far. Jake Allen has made all but one start in goal, posting a 2-5-0 record.

The Kings will turn around quickly for another matinee on Sunday, facing off against the Buffalo Sabres.

Buffalo was the NHL’s worst team last season, at one point going winless in 18 consecutive games. This season, the Sabres are off to a 5-1-1 start despite the continued absence of Jack Eichel, who has trade suitors in the Pacific Division, and their purge of players at last year’s trade deadline.

Winger Victor Olofsson leads the team in goals (four) and points (eight), while veteran goalie Craig Anderson has experienced an early-season resurgence.


When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Where: Staples Center

TV/Radio: Bally Sports West / iHeartRadio


When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: Staples Center

TV/Radio: Bally Sports West / iHeartRadio

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