Seeking to bolster their play on their third and fourth lines, the Kings recalled Colin Fraser from their American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester, N.H., on Tuesday. The Kings lost the battle of the third and four lines with the Sharks in Games 1 and 2 and hoped for a better push-back in Game 3.
Fraser was on the ice practicing Monday with Manchester when he got the word he would be heading to Staples Center for Game 3 against the Sharks. He played 10 games for the Monarchs after breaking his hand. He also played 33 games for the Kings, recording only two assists.
“Just looking for the same old stuff, grit and energy,” Fraser said when asked what the Kings told him they needed from him. “Their third and fourth lines have been key to their success so far. I’ve been here long enough. You guys know what I can bring. Just going to try to be physical and strong defensively.”
Defenseman Drew Doughty played 23 minutes, 29 seconds during the Kings’ 7-2 loss Sunday to the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series. It wasn’t enough, as far as Doughty was concerned, and he said so before Game 3 on Tuesday at Staples Center. Doughty averaged 25:42 in the regular season.
Part of the reason for Doughty’s diminished playing time was the fact that Kings coach Darryl Sutter played seven defensemen instead of the usual six and spread the minutes among Doughty, Matt Greene, Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez, Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr.
“I think everyone gets out of a rhythm when you dress seven ‘D’, for sure,” Doughty said after the Kings’ morning skate. “I only played 23 minutes and I think that’s like the lowest I’ve played in who knows how long. I want to be playing 28 or 30 minutes, so I didn’t like it too much, but it’s not my decision.
“Whatever the decide as a team I just have to go along with it and accept it. If they dress seven again tonight I’m totally fine with it. I just have to play my game and make a difference out there. I’ve always wanted to play more.
“Sometimes they think they play me too much I’m tired in certain situations. I know I’m not tired. I can play 40 minutes if they really want me to and I’ll be fine. I want to play every single second out there. I know it’s not possible, so we just need everybody to step up a little bit more.”
The Kings had too many defensive mistakes and errors of judgment to blame their 2-0 series deficit to the San Jose Sharks only on goaltender Jonathan Quick. The Sharks scored 13 goals on 73 shots in two games, so there’s plenty of blame to go around. Here’s a sampling of what Quick told reporters Monday:
Question: What did you say to your team?
Quick: “Nothing different than I say every other game.”
Question: This is a team you handled well last year, what are they doing different?
Quick: “Scoring goals.”
Question: How much will being at home help you?
Quick: “I don’t know. We’ll see. It shouldn’t matter where you play.”
Question: Is their speed an issue for your team?
Quick: “I don’t think that’s the issue. I think there’s some issues on our end we need to clean up before we start saying what they’re doing.”
Question: What are the issues?
Quick: “There’s a lot of things. I got things to do this afternoon. I don’t want to get into all of them.”
The Kings returned rookie forward Linden Vey to their American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester, N.H., on Monday. The 22-year-old played in 18 games earlier this season, his first in the NHL, and recorded five assists. He also has played 43 games for Manchester and scored 14 goals and 48 points.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter stated the obvious Monday, less than 24 hours after the San Jose Sharks took a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series with a 7-2 rout. Sutter said the difference in the series is the difference between the Kings’ lackluster third and fourth lines, plus their third defense pair, and the Sharks’ effective second set of six forwards and final defense tandem.
“Our role players and D need to show the tenacity their role players are showing when given a chance,” Sutter said. “We tried every matchup on earth last night possible. Kopi (Anze Kopitar) played against everybody. Jeff (Carter) played against everybody. That was not an issue.
“Any of those matchups haven’t been a problem in this series. The problem is when they put guys who work hard and try to prove something going forward out there. We haven’t matched up well. That’s clear. It was a problem for us last year, too. We didn’t have a fourth line last year. It’s been a moving target this year and it’s been a moving target the first two games.”
No question, the Kings played a sloppy game with the puck in Game 1 against the San Jose Sharks, giving up the puck frequently in their own half of the ice. The Sharks capitalized again and again while building a 3-0 lead after the first period and a 5-0 advantage after the second en route to a 6-3 victory Thursday.
“We’re not going to beat San Jose trying to score four goals, that’s for sure,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said after the team held an optional morning skate Sunday at the SAP Center. Sutter’s message to the team going into Game 2?
“I think, first off, when you’re starting on the road and you’re in a building with one of the best teams in the league at home, it’s not going to be easy,” he said. “You ain’t going to steal it, that’s for sure. You ain’t going to surprise nobody. You line up and make sure you play really well.
“That’s what we talked about after last game. It’s an awesome building to play in. That’s what it is. Good place to play. You’ve got to be ready to play. Break it down, if you want to take it from a team standpoint, your top players have to be a little more on top of it and that’s right through your lineup.”
Anze Kopitar said Saturday that it was good to go home for two days and nights instead of staying in San Jose between Games 1 and 2. It was better to sleep in one’s own better, preferable to staying in a downtown San Jose hotel and “avoiding the circus,” as the Kings’ leading scorer during the regular season phrased it.
Wait, sleepy downtown San Jose is a circus?
Kopitar simply meant it was beneficial to be away from the playoff hype machine. The normal routine of home was a far better place to be than to be sitting around the hotel watching hockey highlights on the TV and eating, drinking and thinking about the games all day and night.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn’t think the team played all that poorly in Game 1.
“We liked our team the last game,” Sutter said Saturday on the eve of Game 2. “We didn’t like the first goal and we didn’t like the last minute of the first period. It’s what I said after the game and what I said (Friday), we didn’t have a problem, we didn’t have a problem with the way we played as individuals.”
Sutter’s statement came in response to a question about unproductive forward Mike Richards, who hasn’t scored a goal since March 25 against the Washington Capitals and whose last assist was Feb. 26 against the Colorado Avalanche.
“I don’t think it’s one player,” Sutter said. “Mike was good last game. It’s not about one player.”
Here’s what they were saying Saturday in the San Jose Sharks’ dressing room going into Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the Kings on Sunday at the SAP Center: http://www.mercurynews.com/sharks/ci_25599945/sharks-expect-stronger-challenge-from-kings-game-2