— The Kings’ coronavirus response is now at full speed, and the first waves of the season have already begun.
The Kings have gone from being in a hole to a full-blown lead in their division and will head to California to face the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday in the first game of the new season.
Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said the Kings are prepared for a full day of play, which is what they did for most of the previous seven weeks of the regular season.
“We’re ready to go,” Sutter told reporters on Monday.
“We have a very good group.
We’re not going to change anything in the lineup.”
Sutter and his staff have been in California for a month to get ready for the season opener against the New York Rangers on March 22.
The last two games in the Pacific Division are Sunday and Wednesday, with the Kings playing at the Sharks on Thursday and the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.
Sutter expects that the Kings will get some time off before facing the Avalanche and Sharks.
The Sharks are in the midst of their worst season in the league and are 3-12-1.
The Kings have won eight of their last 10 games, but they are still trying to turn things around.
The Sharks have the best record in the NHL at 6-2-2 and sit at the bottom of the Pacific with an 18-13-1 record.
The Avalanche and Rangers are both in the same division, but the Avalanche are the better team.
They are in first place in the Central Division and have a five-game lead on the Sharks in the final playoff spot in the West.
The game between the Kings and Sharks will mark the first time the Kings have played in San Jose since they opened the season with a 4-3 win over the Kings on March 1.
Sudden death overtime, which was part of the deal for the Kings to play in San Francisco, is expected to be used.
Sutter has a team that has had two players play for the San Jose Sharks in a season.
Center Nick Shore and center Mattias Janmark will both be out with injuries, but Shore has played in three games this season.
Janmark is out with an upper-body injury and is not expected to play.
Settling for the second consecutive season, the Kings’ players were on the ice Monday at the practice facility.
The team was also in the gym during the pregame warm-ups.
Sudden death was added as part of last season’s deal with the Sharks, and Sutter is confident that the players have been able to adjust to it.
“It’s just a learning curve,” Suter said.
“It’s a good adjustment, so it’s not going back and forth.
You learn, and then you’re in a good place.”
I think we have a good group of guys that have been around it for a long time.
It’s something that we’re very comfortable with.
It feels good to be out there.
“Suter said he feels like the Kings can make it to the Stanley Cup Final this season, but he will not be surprised if the Sharks lose to the Los Angels in the Western Conference semifinals.
The last time the Sharks lost in the playoffs was in 2012, when the Kings were swept in six games by the Anaheim Ducks.
The season opener is also the first of three meetings this season between the two teams.
The Avalanche and Kings are both coming off wins in their respective opening games.
The schedule is looking very different for the Avalanche.
The Avs are coming off a 3-2 win over San Jose on Sunday, which sent them to Los Angeles for the weekend.
They’ll play three games in five nights, beginning on March 8, at Staples Center.
The final two games of the schedule are at the San Diego Veterans Memorial Coliseum, on March 10, and at Staples Centre, on April 3.
The Avs will also play three in six nights, including on April 1 at Staples Arena, when they host the Colorado Eagles.
The San Jose Rampage are in their first season without center Ryan Miller, who was injured on Sunday against the Ducks.
Miller has missed most of training camp and is expected back for the regular-season opener against Los Angeles.
Suter also praised defenseman Nicklas Jensen, who has been skating in San Diego during the offseason and will be the fourth defenseman in franchise history to play for a Stanley Cup champion.
Jensen was one of the first rookies signed by the Kings last offseason, but has not been on the team in the preseason.
Sutner said the two have been getting along well and have made some improvements in both their skills and their skating.
Jensens skating will be a key factor in the game.
He has played his entire career at 5-11, 205 pounds, and has played well at both ends of the ice.
He is a physical player who has