Here’s a sneak-peak at what Willie Mitchell said about fighting in today’s NHL …
“You don’t have players who play four or five shifts and just do that now,” Mitchell said of the decline of designated fighters around the league. “Coaches can’t afford that. The game’s too big. The players are too good. You can have a player play a physical game, but also play hockey.
“It’s like anything, it takes time. I think it’s on the right path. It’s a very traditionalist game. I respect tradition. I respect all the guys who played before me and gave me the opportunity to play the game. It’s just the evolution of the game and I think you’re seeing that.”
He might be public enemy No. 1 among the less polished among the Kings fans, who rail profanely at him on his every visit to Staples Center, but Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan knows quite a bit about their favorite team. Here’s what he had to say after the Kings’ 7-4 victory Thursday over the Coyotes: “Getting the quick one on the power play gets them feeling good. You know it was only a matter of time before (Anze) Kopitar and (Mike) Richards got going and once they start feeling good, they’re a pretty good team.”
Kopitar scored a power-play goal in the game’s first minute, his first goal of the season. Richards also scored his first of the seasons. It wasn’t accurate to say the Kings struggled while Kopitar and Richards, the team’s top two centers went without a goal in the season’s first 10 games, It was a head-scratcher, though. Let’s see if the Kings move up the standings in the Pacific Division now that they have broken through with goals.
The first of three Legends Nights with the Kings will be held Sunday, when the team honors former defenseman Jay Wells. The Kings will honor Wells, who played 604 games for the club between 1979-88, before Sunday’s contest against the Edmonton Oilers. Other Legends Nights will be held to honor defenseman Larry Murphy before the Dec. 7 against the New York Islanders and forward Jim Fox before the March 13 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team will wear its purple-and-gold throwback uniforms for those games. Players tested out the helmets, pants and gloves Wednesday in practice.
Tomorrow’s game story tonight …
Anze Kopitar skated into the attacking zone in the opening minute of the Kings’ 7-4 victory Thursday over the Phoenix Coyotes at Staples Center. He and his teammates were on a power play and they buzzed around goaltender Mike Smith’s net in search of an early goal.
Veteran center Mike Ribeiro has nine points (five goals, four assists) in his last seven games for Phoenix (6-2-2), including two goals in each of his last two games. Not coincidentally, the Coyotes have recorded at least one point in seven consecutive games.
Phoenix right wing Shane Doan had what the club described as an upper-body injury and he didn’t play in Tuesday’s home victory over the Flames. Doan was examined by a doctor Tuesday in Phoenix and his status was said to be day-to-day.
Goaltender Mike Smith scored a goal in the Coyotes’ victory Saturday over the Detroit Red Wings, one night after he was on the wrong end of a shootout defeat against the Ducks in Anaheim. Smith is 5-2-2 with a 2.74 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.
Coach Darryl Sutter shuffled his lines, mixing and matching his players for Wednesday’s practice. Whether he sticks with it is anyone’s guess. He made some significant changes for last week’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a 5-1 loss, but stayed with it for all of one shift. “We’re trying ‘Marty’ on left wing and would like Jeff at center during some practices to stay sharp,” Sutter said, referring to defenseman Alec Martinez and right wing Jeff Carter. “One line was a power-play line, so that’s what you can read into it.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter made it clear defenseman Drew Doughty is quite a ways from being one of the NHL’s best defenseman. Not that he isn’t making strides, mind you, but Sutter outlined the coaching staff’s approach to putting Doughty on the path to success. Said Sutter: “Tried to cut his minutes back. It doesn’t sound like much, by two or three a game, which should help his energy level. Trying to get him to be on the ice for fewer goals against and trying to get him on the ice for more goals five-on-five. Trying to get him to be a better penalty-killer. He’s done a good job on our power play. But you’ve got to be the whole package (to be considered a Norris Trophy candidate).”
Coach Darryl Sutter ranked Trevor Lewis as the Kings’ second-best penalty-killer after Anze Kopitar. It almost goes without saying that goaltender Jonathan Quick is actually the Kings’ best penalty-killer, what with his customary array of quality saves whenever the team is shorthanded.
“We have good penalty-killing because of our goaltending,” Sutter said.
Avoiding penalties is always the first step, though.
“You have to learn how to do that,” Sutter said of playing a hard-nosed but legal game. “It wasn’t a very disciplined team at one point, and if you look at teams that aren’t very disciplined the last few years, they have a hard time making the playoffs.”
Coach Darryl Sutter had a solution Wednesday to the Kings’ penalty-killing woes during Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames. Don’t take so many penalties. Don’t take them in bunches. Don’t make it easy for the opposition to get so many scoring opportunities.
The Kings didn’t skate Tuesday. They had a charity gig in the afternoon, but are scheduled to return to their El Segundo rink for a workout Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s home game against goalie Mike Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes. The Kings dropped a 3-2 decision to the Calgary Flames on Monday because they gave up three power-play goals, including what proved to be the winner from T.J. Brodie with 30 seconds remaining. Here are three lasting impressions on the Kings’ lackluster performance: