Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr is set to play his 1,000th game in the NHL when the team hosts the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. The Kings plan to honor his milestone achievement with a pregrame ceremony. Regehr has played 999 games during his career with the Kings, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres. Saturday’s opening faceoff is at 1 p.m.
First, goaltender Ben Scrivens made 59 saves in the Edmonton Oilers’ victory over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. Then, Daniel Carcillo scored the winning goal in the New York Rangers’ win Wednesday over the Islanders. Finally, Jeff Zatkoff was in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 4-1 victory Thursday over the Kings. The Kings traded Scrivens and Carcillo earlier this season, but didn’t acquire much in return. They also didn’t have a place in the lineup for Zatkoff.
Zatkoff expressed no ill will towards the Kings. In fact, he sounded a thankful tone.
“I never played any regular-season games, but I spent a lot of time in this organization and they’re a big part of the reason I’m here today with this organization,” Zatkoff said. “They put me in an opportunity to succeed in Manchester and they gave me two of the best goalie coaches in the game with Bill Ranford and Kim Dillabaugh there that I was able to work with for five to six years, so I owe a lot to them.”
USA Hockey announced Friday that Dustin captain Dustin Brown would be alternate captain for the Sochi Games next month. Brown and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild will wear the A’s on their sweaters and Suter’s teammate Zach Parise will be the Team USA captain. It was mildly surprising that David Backes of the St. Louis Blues was not named to one of the three leadership positions. Brown has had a difficult season for the struggling Kings, with only 16 points, including 10 goals.
Jonathan Quick was the first goalie off the ice at the Kings’ morning skate at Toyota Sports Center. No surprise that he will start and Martin Jones will be the backup. That’s been the case in six of the Kings’ last seven games.
Speaking of backup goalies, there will be another mini-reunion at Staples Center tonight. Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi got plenty of ink yesterday (including here), and rightfully so after playing an integral role in the Kings’ Stanley Cup run in 2012.
Pens goaltender Jeff Zatkoff never appeared a game in a Kings uniform, but he has plenty of friends in the home dressing room. Zatkoff, who’s expected to back up Marc-Andre Fleury tonight, was at one time a teammate with Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Tyler Toffoli and Jones at AHL Manchester. The 26-year-old was a third-round draft pick out of Miami of Ohio in 2006 by the Kings. He was buried on the depth chart behind Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier. In hindsight, he might have had to wait until this year to play an NHL game in Los Angeles.
1 p.m. update: Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma told reporters that Zatkoff is starting tonight.
Kings captain Dustin Brown has only 16 points in 54 games, including 10 goals. He has one point on the road, a goal in a shootout victory Dec. 3 against the Ducks. His average ice time of 16 minutes, 25 seconds is his lowest since his first full season in the NHL, when he averaged 13:59. He hasn’t scored fewer than 50 points in a full season since he had 46 in 2006-07. What gives? What’s going on?
When asked by reporters about the Kings’ overall frustration level after a 3-0 loss Tuesday to the Phoenix Coyotes, Brown said, “It’s kind of hard to tell. there’s a team-wide frustration and a personal frustration for some guys in here (the Kings’ dressing room). I mean, I’m frustrated with the way I’m playing. That doesn’t just lend itself to getting goals and getting points, but team-wide.”
The Kings went 2-5-1 during their Grammys Trip, which included a loss to the Ducks at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. They began the trip with a victory over the St. Louis Blues, then lost five in a row before posting a victory Monday at San Jose followed by a loss Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Returning to Staples Center should be helpful in turning around the Kings’ sagging fortunes.
Or maybe not.
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said when asked about a possible energy boost from Thursday’s homecoming: ”Why would that make any difference? What are they, machines? I mean, why? We played two games in 36 hours, so why would they? I mean, why do you all of a sudden get energy because you’re at home?”
The Kings’ upcoming schedule isn’t an easy one. During a four-game homestand that leads into the Olympic break, they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 6.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are Thursday’s opponent when the Kings return to Staples Center after their annual Grammys trip. It also will be defenseman Rob Scuderi’s first appearance in Los Angeles since leaving the Kings last summer to sign a four-year contract with the Penguins that pays him $3.375 million per season. Scuderi was a go-to guy in the Kings’ locker room for reporters because of his candor. He also was a very effective player during the Kings’ run to the Stanley Cup in 2012 and to the Western Conference finals last season.
Scuderi certainly called it like he saw it earlier this week when a Pittsburgh reporter asked for his views of the Kings’ style of play under coach Darryl Sutter.
“During my time, we always had a lot of talent,” Scuderi said. “But the way the mentality was kind of drilled into us was to be more of a defensive group. Guys aren’t going to cheat for offense. They’re going to stay back. Thee are some guys there who could easily get 80 to 100 points, but in that type of system and that type of (defensive-minded) conference, it’s probably not going to happen.”
According to our friends at the NHL, the Kings’ 3-0 loss to the Ducks on Saturday at Dodger Stadium produced a TV ratings bonanza for NBCSN. The 2.38 rating in Los Angeles was the highest for a regular-season game on the network. In addition, NBCSN was the No.1 cable network in the market during the game and the No. 2 network overall. The league’s PR department tweeted that the figures were from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., but I’m assuming that’s the Hudson River Effect talking. New Yorkers sometimes (OK, always) have difficulty translating Eastern Time into Real Time, as we call it here in Southern California (a.k.a., the Only Place That Really Matters).
Here are three things wrong with the struggling Kings going into Monday’s Pacific Division grudge match against the San Jose Sharks:
The Kings arrived at Dodger Stadium (finally!) on Friday afternoon. They found an ice rink surrounded by a stage for the national anthem singer, a stage for the rock band KISS, a beach volleyball court and a roller rink amid the normal trappings of the iconic ballpark.