After playing three games with the Kings over the last week, rookie Tyler Toffoli will likely be an observer tonight with the Dallas Stars in town. Coach Darryl Sutter is opting to make a line-up change after not giving Toffoli much ice-time during the second half of the third period on Tuesday night.
Even so, Jeff Carter – who Toffoli says he’s trying to pattern his game after – likes what he’s seen from the former second round draft pick thus far and understands the challenges that young players face.
“I’m sure it’s a little bit of an adjustment on him,” said the Kings’ leading goal scorer. “Everything’s a little bit quicker when coming up from the minors. But I think he’s done a pretty good job. He’s a real smart player, he makes really good plays – little passes under a stick or reading off Mike or myself. He’s real strong on pucks. He finds holes in the offensive zone, where shooters should be.”
Toffoli’s presence has also rekindled thoughts of when Carter first broke into the NHL.
“I had my ups and downs,” Carter said with a bit of a laugh. “They tried to make me into a right winger; that didn’t work. Then I was fourth line, I was all over the map. But, it’s never easy. Nobody’s going to come in and go right to the first line and be like – well, not many guys, some guys do. But, it takes a lot of work. You have to kind of pay your dues and keep going up.”
From Toffoli’s perspective, Carter and Mike Richards have helped make the transition to the NHL just a little bit easier.
“All the guys are making me feel really comfortable,” said Toffoli. “My linemates have probably talked to me the most though. They’re trying to help me get better, and I’m just listening to everything they’re telling me to do…on the ice and off the ice.”
However, even with 220 goals scored, two trades and three teams under his belt, it’s been hard for Carter to pass along many of his experiences due to the team’s hectic schedule.
“We don’t have any time. All we do is play games these days,” he joked. “That’s good with me though. I’d rather do morning skates and play games.”
While Toffoli’s buddies back in Manchester will likely be watching tonight’s Kings-Stars tilt on TV – ironically, over at his place because he has the Center Ice package – the 20-year old forward will be sitting in the press box at Staples Center, as Jordan Nolan is expected to play instead.
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