Jeff Carter, far left, is in a slump. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)
Kings forward Jeff Carter hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 18 against the Florida Panthers, a dreary stretch of 13 games in which he also has only three assists. So, when a beat reporter asked Kings coach Darryl Sutter on Wednesday if Carter was getting enough scoring chances, Sutter said, “Not consistently. Not consistently.”
Sutter also said: “He hasn’t scored a goal for a month tomorrow. Nov. 18. I have it all marked down. … We’re trying to get all our top guys to be more productive players right not. It’s not just Jeff Carter.”
In addition, Sutter said one way to eliminate some of the pressure from Carter is having him play on center Anze Kopitar’s wing. “There was a time last year when (Dwight) King, ‘Kopi’ and ‘Carts’ were our best line,” Sutter recalled. “Just trying to manage it game by game … the reason why you shift guys around is because top guys aren’t producing. That’s clearly why, if you look around the league now, why guys get shifted around.”
Alec Martinez (27) played for the first time after missing seven games after undergoing finger surgery. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)
Well, it depends. Here’s what Alec Martinez said to say after playing for the first time after sitting out for seven games because of finger surgery: “It felt good to be back playing again. It’s not too much fun being out. As for my game, I’m not too happy with it. I had to shake off a little bit of rust. I know I’ve got a better game in me next game. At the end of the day, we got the two points. That’s all I care about.”
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said, bringing up Martinez’s name after reporters failed to do so after a 2-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday at Staples Center: “Whenever guys come back from injuries, they have a lot of energy, and he and Robyn (Regehr, his defense partner Tuesday) were really good.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter had this to say after defensive-minded defensemen Matt Greene and Robyn Regehr scored second-period goals in a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers: “It’s good to see Robyn and Greene score. They don’t get much credit and they give you the blue collar every night. They are our two most consistent defensemen, for sure. It’s always good to see them score.”
As a result of the Kings’ injuries, defenseman Drew Doughty’s ice time has grown to an average of 28 minutes, 37 seconds per game, the second-highest in the league behind the 29:08 played per contest by Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. Doughty averaged 25:42 last season, seventh overall.
“He’s been playing a lot of minutes,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said after Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Dallas Stars. “Do we like that? No, but that’s where we’re at. I look at that all the time, too. It’s too many minutes. He’s going to tell you he’s fine, but over the long haul, that’s too many.”
There were, oh, about 1.5 million things that got overlooked during the Kings’ 6-5 shootout loss to the Ducks on Wednesday. One was the scant playing time given to young forwards Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, two-thirds of That 70s Line, the Kings’ leading offensive trio. Pearson played only eight minutes Wednesday against the Ducks, and Toffoli was on the ice for only 10:43. Jeff Carter, who centers the line, played his customary minutes, skating 21:33. More minutes than usual, in fact. Toffoli has scored a Kings-leading 17 points, including seven goals, while averaging 14:16 of ice time per game. Carter has 15 points, including six goals, and averages 18:11. Pearson has 10 points, including seven goals, and averages 12:56.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter had this to say about free agent defenseman Jamie McBain, who signed a one-season, $550,000 contract with the club Tuesday: “There’s a lot to go over with him. It’s way different coming to this conference. The pace of play is way different. He hasn’t played on a good team. Big difference. Good kid. Good skill set. The next part is the game.”
Jake Muzzin sat out of the Kings’ season-opening loss to the San Jose Sharks because of an unspecified injury. Muzzin, one-half of the Kings’ top defense pair along, was hurt earlier in the week. His status for
Sunday’s Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz., remains uncertain.
Brayden McNabb took Muzzin’s place in the lineup and played a regular shift alongside Drew Doughty. McNabb’s plus-minus rating was minus-1. He played 23 minutes, 27 seconds. Doughty was a minus-1 in a team-leading 27:28.
Marian Gaborik made quite a statement when he chased down a routine dump-in from Kings teammate Justin Williams in Thursday’s game against the Washington Capitals. His hustle negated an icing call and he out-foxed Capitals defenseman John Carlson. Gaborik wasn’t content, however. He then whipped a pass to a hard-charging Anze Kopitar, who beat goalie Jaroslav Halak with a quick shot.
It was a tidy summary on the reasons the Kings acquired Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 5 for ineffective forward Matt Frattin, a second-round pick either this year or next plus a conditional third-round selection. They needed a more dynamic offensive presence and GM Dean Lombardi had targeted Gaborik for quite some time. He liked his speed, his skill and his knack for making plays, all of which the Kings seemed to lack in great numbers.
So, how has the trade worked for the Kings? Gaborik has two goals and two assists, including one power-play goal and one power-play assist, in seven games in which the Kings have gone 4-3-0. His plus/minus defensive rating is minus-1. He has 23 shots on goal and has played an average of 18 minutes, 2 seconds. Above all, he’s proved to be another offensive weapon for a team with an anemic offense. It will be interesting to see if he continues to click with Kopitar, and why wouldn’t he?
Here’s the first part of a group question-and-answer session with Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford:
Question: How much of it is Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones and how much is it the defense?
Ranford: “I think it’s a combination of both. You need your goalie to make the big saves at the right time and you have to play solid defense. I think this group here, going back to the Terry Murray takes, has taken a lot of pride in their defense. That hasn’t changed.”
Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin seem like a defense pairing built to last, a union of two offensive threats. Or is it?
“Evaluate it every game,” coach Darryl Sutter said Friday, the day before the Kings played host to the New York Islanders at Staples Center. “Quite honest, when we went into Anaheim the other day, the last time Jake played in Anaheim, he was (poor), so don’t think I didn’t talk to him about it. Because you’re evaluated at the end of every game. Because at the end of the day … we’re not that far from Jake Muzzin being a healthy scratch. Not that far removed. He’s a young guy and we’re looking for consistency.”