Here’s Kings captain Dustin Brown’s reaction to the Stanley Cup playoff-clinching victory Wednesday over the Phoenix Coyotes: “With the evolution of this team, maybe four or five years ago, this was a big deal. Now, it’s just part of the process. It’s good to get it out of the way and get our game going. There’s nothing to celebrate about making the playoffs. It’s not a goal, it’s an expectation.”
The usually empty Kings’ dressing room was emptier than usual after their 4-0 rout of the Coyotes sent them to the postseason for the fifth consecutive season. Brown was the only player at his locker stall when reporters were granted access to the dressing room. Alec Martinez was later summoned from the off-limits area and he spoke along the same lines as Brown, saying it was a bigger deal to play well.
Coach Darryl Sutter shuffled his lines, mixing and matching his players for Wednesday’s practice. Whether he sticks with it is anyone’s guess. He made some significant changes for last week’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a 5-1 loss, but stayed with it for all of one shift. “We’re trying ‘Marty’ on left wing and would like Jeff at center during some practices to stay sharp,” Sutter said, referring to defenseman Alec Martinez and right wing Jeff Carter. “One line was a power-play line, so that’s what you can read into it.”
Kings coac Darryl Sutter made a couple of minor tweaks to the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars at Staples Center, scratching ineffective forward Matt Frattin and defenseman Alec Martinez. Colin Fraser replaced Frattin and Jake Muzzin took Martinez’s spot in the defense crops.
The Kings and defenseman Alec Martinez agreed to a new two-season, $2.2-million contract, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing later this month. The website for the Canadian sports network TSN first reported the agreement late Sunday night. Martinez, 25, played in 27 of 48 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
Restricted free agents Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin and Jordan Nolan elected salary arbitration Wednesday, an attempt to solve contract impasses with the Kings. They are four of 21 players league-wide who elected to go this route. Teams also can take players to arbitration in order to settle disputes. The deadline is Thursday at 2 p.m. (PDT). The ruling of the arbitrator is final. Hearings are scheduled for July 22 through Aug. 6 in Toronto. Lewis, Martinez, Muzzin and Nolan became free agents July 5.
Given the Kings’ offensive struggles, Darryl Sutter raised a few eyebrows by dressing seven defensemen, instead of the usual six, for Game 3. He offered an explanation Sunday for adding Alec Martinez to the defense corps for Saturday’s game.
“Fourth line hasn’t been playing much and our fourth-line right wing has played hardly at all,” Sutter said, referring to Jordan Nolan. “So, I thought I’d give Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams a couple of more minutes. It gets us away from matchups. It worked (Saturday) night. Gives us more energy.”
Plus, by playing Martinez for the first time since April 2 against the Phoenix Coyotes, Sutter kept penalty-killing specialist Keaton Ellerby in the lineup. Ellerby helped the Kings to deny the Blues on four power play chances during Game 3.
“It gives our defense some energy, and obviously Keaton, you take Keaton out and you’re losing a guy who’s a really good penalty killer for us, and we didn’t want to do that,” Sutter added when asked about adding a seventh defenseman
Alec Martinez looked a little rusty to Kings coach Darryl Sutter in two games since the defenseman returned to the lineup after sitting out eight in a row because of an upper body injury. Sutter said of Martinez after Thursday’s morning skate:
Defenseman Alec Martinez is in the Kings’ lineup tonight after sitting out eight consecutive games after suffering an upper-body injury Feb. 11 against the St. Louis Blues. Davis Drewiske will be scratched to make room for Martinez in the lineup, with Keaton Ellerby keeping his spot. The Kings are still without veteran defensemen Matt Greene (back surgery) and Willie Mitchell (knee surgery).
The Kings activated defenseman Alec Martinez from injured reserve Saturday and sent defenseman Andrew Campbell to their minor-league affiliate at Manchester, N.H. Martinez was sidelined by an upper body injury for seven games. He had one goal and one assist in 11 games before he was hurt Feb. 11 against the St. Louis Blues. The Kings play the Canucks on Saturday night in Vancouver. Campbell did not play in a game for the KIngs after his recall from Manchester of the AHL.
Kings defenseman Alec Martinez practiced with his teammates for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury Feb. 11 against the St. Louis Blues. Martinez wasn’t sure when he might play, but accompanied the team to Vancouver for Saturday’s game against the Canucks. Coach Darryl Sutter said Martinez was “cleared for contact.”
Sutter wouldn’t say more about Martinez’s status, however.
“Now it’s just a matter of getting practices in. Darryl hasn’t told me anything yet, but I’m ready to go. Obviously, it’s a coach’s decision. I’d understand if he wanted me to get a couple of practices in first. I felt good out there today. I’m just excited to be back amongst the living. No one’s told me I’m not going yet. I’ve got a bag packed. Darryl’s rule is if you can practice he wants you to travel.”