Here are a few things to watch when the Kings face the Predators in Nashville:
The Kings’ three-game trip continues with a stop in Nashville to play the rejuvenated Predators (13-5-2). The Kings are 11-6-4 overall, but only 1-4-3 away from the cavernous confines of Staples Center. They began their trip by falling behind the Dallas Stars by three goals en route to a 5-4 loss Saturday
Kings coach Darryl Sutter continues to overplay defenseman Drew Doughty, who was on the ice for a career-high 33 minutes, 7 seconds Saturday. Injuries and the indefinite suspension of Slava Voynov have left the Kings shorthanded on the blue line. Sutter would prefer to play Doughty less and has acknowledged the harm in overworking him.
The Kings received salary-cap relief from the NHL last week in the Voynov case, but haven’t exercised their flexibility to recall anyone from Manchester (N.H.) of the AHL. Alec Martinez has been skating, but it’s uncertain when he’ll be sound enough to play after he underwent finger surgery.
The Kings still haven’t made a formal announcement on the surgery that was performed on defenseman Alec Martinez’s finger Friday. Most teams send out a press release revealing the news. Kings coach Darryl Sutter had this to say after Saturday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Ducks: “Everything went well. It was basically a finger. They had to do some suturing on his finger and clean up his nail. When it heals, then he’ll be ready.”
Kings defenseman Alec Martinez had finger surgery Friday.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another for the Kings. Just when it seemed their defense crops might be back to something close to full strength again, they lost another valuable member when Alec Martinez underwent finger surgery Friday morning.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi informed the club’s website of Martinez’s surgery, but did not provide further details. It wasn’t immediately certain how long the Stanley Cup playoffs hero would be sidelined, or precisely what was done during the procedure.
Martinez, who scored the series-winning goals in Game 7 of the Western Conference final against the Chicago Blackhawks and Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers, was injured while blocking a shot in the second period of Thursday’s loss to the Dallas Stars.
His absence means the Kings are down to only six healthy and eligible defenseman again, with Robyn Regehr poised to return to the lineup for today’s game against the Ducks after sitting out three contests because of a lower-body injury.
Slava Voynov continues to serve an indefinite suspension imposed by the NHL after his arrest last month on domestic violence charges after an incident at his Redondo Beach home. The Kings placed him on non-roster status earlier in the week in order to sign free agent Jamie McBain.
Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, the hero of the team’s Game 7 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals and their Game 5 win over the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final, knows about pressure situations. He didn’t believe the Kings delivered when needed in their season-opening game Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks. Here’s what he had to say:
“We obviously didn’t have the start we were looking for. We can’t come out like that against a hockey club of San Jose’s caliber, or anyone in the league, quite frankly. We weren’t ready. We just didn’t come out the way we needed to.”
Here is the best of the best writing on the Kings from the opening weekend of training camp, starting with Los Angeles News Groups columnist Mark Whicker’s look at Stanley Cup playoffs hero Alec Martinez: http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20140920/alec-martinezs-journey-with-los-angeles-kings-becomes-legendary
My look at the moves the Kings’ rivals in the West made during the summer: http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20140919/anaheim-ducks-the-west-bulk-up-to-challenge-los-angeles-kings
Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times takes a look at defenseman Drew Doughty and his goal of winning the Norris Trophy here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/kings/la-sp-kings-drew-doughty-20140920-story.html
Dillman also catches up with captain Dustin Brown here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/kings/la-sp-dustin-brown-kings-20140922-story.html
In the Orange County, er, Los Angeles Register, Rich Hammond previews the Kings’ No. 1 goal in Monday’s split-squad exhibitions with the Arizona Coyotes: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/kings-635851-monday-home.html
Alec Martinez’s OT goal in Game 5 vs. New York, June 13. Some moments are frozen in time and Martinez’s leaping image after scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal at 14:43 of the second OT will be one of them for Kings fans. Martinez jumped for joy, tossing his stick into the air. He jumped again, throwing away his gloves. That’s what winning the Stanley Cup championship looked like in 2013-14.
Here’s a link to my Game 5 recap: http://www.dailynews.com/events/20140613/alec-martinez-works-ot-to-give-los-angeles-kings-their-second-stanley-cup-championshiphttp://
Alec Martinez’s overtime goal in Game 7 vs. Chicago, June 1. The Kings would win three consecutive Game 7s on the road, a first in NHL history, with this clearly the closest and most nerve-jangling of the three series-deciders. Martinez’s goal 5 minutes, 47 seconds into sudden-death OT propelled the Kings to their second Stanley Cup Final in three seasons, a shot heard around the hockey universe.
Hecklers are a part of sports, plain and simple. Athletes in all sports and at all levels get an earful whenever and wherever the games are contested. Hockey, despite the glass that separates the players from the spectators, is no exception and sometimes things boil over.
“Some buildings you hear it more than most just because of the way the tunnel is set up,” Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said Wednesday. “You don’t really listen to that stuff. The only time you hear it is when you’re leaving for the period or coming back out. I don’t even pay attention to that stuff.”
Some hecklers are better than others, according to Martinez.
“Depends on the guy. Sometimes you get the big drunk guy who’s slurring his words and you can’t understand him to begin with,” he said after the Kings’ morning skate at the United Center in Chicago. “I’m sure there’s a few funny ones here and there. As as pro athlete, it’s not the first time somebody told me I suck. It comes with the territory. If you’re going to do it, at least try to be original.”
Martinez didn’t know a Kings fan alleged Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford squirted him with a water bottle near the end of Game 4 on Monday at Staples Center until reporters informed him of it Wednesday. Martinez then smiled when told the fan filed a police report.
“Good luck with that,” Martinez joked, laughing along with a couple of reporters. “I guess it’s kind of like the disclaimer that they give (before games) that pucks can leave the ice surface. I guess water and other things can come back … It just comes with the territory.”
Here’s what Darryl Sutter had to say when asked Monday if the Kings’ lacked the same emotion in Game 1 of their series against the Chicago Blackhawks that they showed in victories over the Sharks and Ducks in the first two rounds:
“Yesterday? I thought we played a hell of a game. … There was one scrum. The one scrum there was, if we were moaning about calls today, the one scrum there was that we got called on, too bad they couldn’t review it.”
Sutter referred to the cluster in front of the net of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, which led to Alec Martinez’s shove of the Blackhawks’ Brandon Bollig, which resulted in a roughing penalty and then a power-play goal for Brandon Saad.
Later, Sutter was asked to clarify whether he believed Bollig took a dive.
“No,” Sutter said.