Alexander Frolov’s absence from the last 16 minutes of last night’s game was not injury related. It was directly related to the poor defensive play he made on Phoenix’s game-tying goal. Today, the point was driven home again when Frolov wore a red jersey — typically indicating a fourth-line player — in practice. On the grease board in the locker room, Frolov’s position was even listed with a slash next to John Zeiler — as in “24/13” — indicating that his spot in the lineup might be in question.
That’s most likely just a motivational move by Terry Murray, who, after practice, pulled Frolov into his office for a lengthy closed-door meeting. Obviously, offense isn’t the problem for Frolov, who leads the Kings in goals, but defense is a major issue. Here’s what Murray said today about why Frolov remained on the bench in the third period.
MURRAY: “That (Phoenix) goal, that awareness. He’s a veteran player and out in that situation, that’s what we’re talking about here, is awareness, intensity and focus. It’s a one-goal game and it’s (about) doing the right things to shut it down. That play that happened, it was the back weak-side defenseman coming down and getting a pass through a couple people. That’s (Frolov’s) responsibility, to read and react to it and be in proper position. He just was over too far on the puck side, and that opens the lane to the back door for the defenseman. I need our veteran players to lead the way in those close games like that. That’s a big part of their buy-in and setting the example and how to do things for the young players, for future years or for future times. He slipped in it.”
Question: Was that a cumulative thing with him, something you’ve seen pop up from time to time?
MURRAY: “With Fro, and I think I might have said this before, I see so much there. I see so much potential and I want him to bring it out. When you’re a player that has a lot of ability and a lot of talent, the only person that can bring it out, ultimately, is you yourself. (It’s about) making your mind up that you’re going to have that mental toughness to dig in and get it done. That was, in a nutshell, the conversation.”
For those who didn’t see it last night, here’s the offending play/goal that landed Frolov on the bench.