Kings choose younger lineup for preseason

Written By kolimtiga on Jumat, 26 September 2014 | 12.57

Twenty-five regular-season games and one Stanley Cup championship … all before he turned 22 years old.

What does Kings left wing Tanner Pearson do for an encore, a successful second act, before he gets, oh, really old? As in turning 23.

Pearson didn't hesitate when the questions came his way on Thursday morning.

"Try to win another, really," he said. "That's why you play the game."

The ride has been a dizzying one for the youngster who started last season with the Kings' minor league affiliate in Manchester, N.H., because of salary-cap and roster issues. He went back and forth between Manchester (N.H.) and Los Angeles and finally settled in with the Kings after the Olympic break.

This is far from a typical second year for Pearson.

"It's kind of weird," veteran Kings forward Justin Williams said. "I feel like Tanner's played more playoff games than regular-season games.

"You want to come into camp, you want to re-establish yourself because there's always someone trying to take your job…. That's what training camp is about: distancing yourself from your competition. Tanner's had a good camp so far."

In fact, Williams was nearly on the mark about Pearson's games. Pearson appeared in 25 regular-season games, one more than in the playoffs. He played in all but two playoff games on the run to the Cup. Pearson formed a dynamic partnership with veteran Jeff Carter and youngster Tyler Toffoli and had four goals and 12 points in the playoffs.

So, is a resetting of goals in order?

"I don't try to set too many goals," Pearson said. "You obviously have your personal goals. If you set too high expectations and you don't succeed, it's a letdown."

With Kings Coach Darryl Sutter opting for a younger lineup in a 4-3 shootout victory over the Ducks in a preseason game on Thursday night at Staples Center, Pearson played on a line with Toffoli and prospect Andy Andreoff.

Sutter talked about avoiding the plateau effect, in terms of the Kings' youngsters. Still, it will be difficult to make direct comparisons between this season and last season

"Tanner and Tyler didn't play here very much last year till the playoffs, if you look at how many games they actually played," Sutter said. "Evaluate it on the prior year based on the whole year, how many games they played. Our team played 108 [games].

"How many of them did they actually play? And what did we get based on how many games they played?

"How did they play? It's all that. You know what? They can't all play. How else do we base it as a staff, fairly? It's based on training camp."

The first phase of training camp is nearly over. Sutter said there will be a shift in approach early next week.

"We're not even starting to evaluate our group from last year until after this weekend," he said. "We'll see more continuity in our lineup, and hopefully some of the injured guys are [getting] closer." @reallisa

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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