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Off-Day Watch 12/24: It only took 18 games

Tyler Toffoli’s long nightmare has ended.

Los Angeles Kings v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

When Tyler Toffoli was at his lowest during his prolonged scoring slump — 18 games without a goal, only three assists in that time span — the player to reassure him, as it seems it almost always has been, was Jeff Carter. “Carts looked at me the other day and he says, ‘I promise you, you’re going to score another goal in NHL, Tyler,’” Toffoli told the Athletic’s Lisa Dillman.

So it’s no surprise that the first person on the ice to greet Toffoli after his cathartic game winner last night was Carter, with wide open arms.

It’s been a weird season for both players, who have already seen their most frequent linemate traded away, Carter dealing with proving he still has something left after his injury last year, and Toffoli trying to live up to the big expectation placed on him after his 31-goal season in 2015-16. Both have been subject of trade rumors, with Carter cast as the wily veteran who could go to a team looking for experienced leadership, and Toffoli as the young player who may just need a change of scenery.

Visions of Jack Hughes aside, how sweet would it be for both of to re-find their game together as this season progresses? The magic of the 2014 Cup run may be several years in the rear view mirror, but Carter and Toffoli living up to their potential as a pairing that can drive high-danger chances and capitalize on them would be fantastic. It may be too late for the Kings to pull themselves fully out of their nose dive this season, but a return to form for Carter and Toffoli will make Kings games immensely more watchable.

Kings Things

The Kings delivered an early Christmas miracle with their overtime takedown of the Knights. [Jewels from the Crown]

The Knights, unsurprisingly, were less than happy about this development. [Knights on Ice]

Post-game notes and quotes from Willie Desjardins, Anze Kopitar, and Drew Doughty. [Kings Insider]

In a rewind to Saturday’s game against the Sharks, here’s a look at Ilya Kovalchuk’s one-timer and why the Kings may not be getting as much out of him as they’d like. [Fear the Fin]

And a look from San Jose’s perspective on Erik Karlsson’s suspension. [Fear the Fin]

Despite his wrist injury, the coaching staff of Team Canada has believed in Jaret Anderson-Dolan all along. [TSN]

Is the recent improved play by the Kings an anomaly or the real thing? [The Athletic]

Fun with numbers:

Elsewhere

The evolution of Gritty from mascot to meme. [Vox]

The Ontario Junior Reign youth hockey program is a model of success for USA Hockey’s developmental goals. [USA Hockey]

With the NWHL draft being more of a formality than anything else, here are some notable undrafted college seniors who could still sign with teams after their seasons end. [The Ice Garden]

Opinions abound about the Hurricanes’ tribute to the Hartford Whalers, more than 21 years after the team was relocated. [The Athletic]

Johan Franzen opened up to Swedish news outlet Expressen about his life post-concussions. [English summary | Swedish | Fan translation]

Is Matt Murray finally rebounding? [Pittsburgh Hockey Now]

Kendall Coyne-Schofield has had an amazing year. [New York Times]

Some hockey-in-Seattle history. [NHL]

Michael Kempny took the long road to the NHL, but it’s all paid off. [Washington Capitals]

Good news out of Buffalo, as long-time announcer Rick Jeanneret is okay after a health scare mid-broadcast. [Buffalo News]