How much pressure is Kings defenseman Drew Doughty placing on his shoulders for Game 7 on Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks? Apparently, quite a lot judging by his comments after the team’s morning skate.
“You treat this Game 7 as if it is the Olympic gold medal game or the Stanley Cup Final,” Doughty said. “For me, personally, I need to have an unbelievable game for our team to win tonight. I need my ‘A’ game. I need to do everything right. I need to play well defensively. I need to chip in on the offense. I need to dominate on special teams, so that’s just how I look at it.”
Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell won’t play in Game 7 of the Kings’ first-round playoff series against the Sharks tonight in San Jose. Mitchell was injured during the Kings’ victory in Game 6 at Staples Center. Matt Greene will play for only the second time in the series. He played in Game 2 and was a minus-4.
“It’s always fun to play a high-stakes game like this,” Greene said after the Kings’ skate Wednesday morning. “I want to come in and help out. Just have to establish our game and get a good forecheck and turn pucks over. Did a good job of that in Game 5. Play good defense. Play a good team game.”
Here’s what one columnist wrote after the Kings and Sharks reached the breaking point Monday night: http://www.mercurynews.com/sharks/ci_25657566/purdy-sharks-need-reboot-and-quickly
Not sure why I’m even bothering with this, but the Kings wouldn’t say whether defenseman Willie Mitchell would be fit to play in Game 7 on Wednesday after he suffered an unspecified injury during Game 6 on Monday. It’s expected that Matt Greene, who struggled at times during the series, would step in for Mitchell.
“We’ll see tomorrow,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said.
The Kings reassigned forward Colin Fraser to their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H. They recalled him last week to bolster their third and fourth lines for their first-round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks, but then didn’t play him in any of the games. Fraser played in 33 regular-season games with the Kings and also spent 10 games with Manchester.
For all their recent playoff experience, the Kings’ track record in Game 7s is rather limited. Defenseman Robyn Regehr has played in the most Game 7s with five listed on his resume. Several other key players, including center Anze Kopitar, team captain Dustin Brown, center Jarret Stoll and goaltender Jonathan Quick, have played in only one winner-take-all game.
The Kings’ Game 7 experience is rather thin as a franchise, too. They have played in only eight Game 7s in their history, winning four and losing four. They won their most recent Game 7, taking a 2-1 victory from the San Jose Sharks in the decisive game of their second-round series last spring. The Kings and Sharks face off again in Game 7 of their first-round series on Wednesday in San Jose’s SAP Center.
The opening faceoff is at 7 p.m.
Kings captain Dustin Brown was named one of three finalists Tuesday for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, which is presented “to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season. Mark Messier solicits suggests from team and league personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of candidates. The selection of the three finalists and the winner are his alone. The winner will be announced June 24.
Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks are the other finalists.
Brown, a Messier Award finalist for the third time, was singled out for his charitable work with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and also KaBoom!, which built a playground in Carson that’s visited by more than 100 kids per day.
The finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy were announced Monday morning and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty didn’t make the cut. Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators were the finalists.
Doughty had a strong season, but so did the others and they were the top three in voting by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the league’s top defenseman. The winner will be announced at a ceremony June 24 at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas.
Last week, Kings center Anze Kopitar was named as a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which honors the forward who best excels at the defensive aspects of the game. Kopitar will be the Kings’ lone representative when the trophies are handed out in Las Vegas.
Asked if he was surprised Doughty wasn’t a finalist, Kings coach Darryl Sutter said simply, “He will be one day.”
Darryl Sutter is a blood and guts, old-time hockey kind of a guy, if you hadn’t noticed. He coaches the Kings by the instincts honed over a lifetime in the game — as a player, a coach and an executive. He works the time-honored traditions and keeps his players on their toes.
He doesn’t spent hours analyzing statistics, especially the metrics involving time of possession and the like. He might give them a look now and again, as he suggested during his session with reporters after the Kings’ morning skate at Staples Center.
There are no secret formulas, as far as he’s concerned.
“When it’s all said and done, I know you’re really good at the math and the analytics, but you’re going to add it up … it’s going to be 3-2,” Sutter said, referring to the average final score. “That’s what it is. It’s .06 and .07. There lots else involved. It’s what you think about when there’s nothing else to think about.”
Here’s some of what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Saturday morning about center Anze Kopitar, a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy:
“First off, you look at playoff experience. He plays in many situations and plays many minutes. You learn to manage the game better. It all comes with experience. With ‘Kopi’, a big part of it has been the Kings being successful. He broke his ankle (near the end of the regular season in 2011) and probably learned a lot by watching it (the Kings’ first-round loss to the San Jose Sharks). Then he takes the next step by going deep in the playoffs.”