When a reporter asked the Kings’ Darryl Sutter on Saturday if there was anything the team took away from last year’s Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium, the coach said, “We didn’t score a goal in the outdoor game last year.”
Tomorrow’s advance tonight …
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — No one will ever confuse ancient, historic Dodger Stadium with sparkling, new Levi’s Stadium. After all, one is the Dodgers’ iconic ballpark, the other is the new high-tech home field of football’s San Francisco 49ers.
The Kings experienced many of the same sights and sounds Friday in the Bay Area as they did more than a year ago in Chavez Ravine. Their practice in preparation for Saturday night’s Stadium Series game against the San Jose Sharks was similar, but hardly the same, though.
“I think last year was significantly different from this year,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “We were playing in an historic building last year. This is a new building. Everything other than that was different. I thought it was pretty unique last year to be able to do it.”
To do it again, as the reigning Stanley Cup champions, is different, too.
“For a lot of guys, it’s never going to happen again,” Sutter said.
Last season, a roller rink, a beach volleyball court and kids on skateboards and wearing roller blades surrounded the ice at Dodger Stadium. This season, twin water features, plus fake green rolling hills and gray mountains adorned the area around the midfield rink.
Kiss played last season between periods. John Fogerty and Melissa Etheridge will headline tonight’s show. Temperatures on Jan. 25, 2014, were in the low 60s for the opening faceoff. The temperature is forecast to be an equally comfortable 57 degrees.
“I’d like to play a game in the snow, sure,” Sutter said. “Everybody thinks everybody has played outdoors. Not everybody has. Guys are too young. They might have skated outdoors, but very few have played outdoors other than last year.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter definitely has his likes and dislikes. When asked about John Fogerty performing during the intermission of the Stadium Series game Saturday against the San Jose Sharks, Sutter said he had his own preference.
“Johnny Cash,” Sutter said.
Cash is no longer with us, sadly, as reporters pointed out to Sutter.
Kings defenseman Alec Martinez didn’t make the trip to Santa Clara for the Stadium Series game Saturday against the San Jose Sharks. He remained behind in Southern California, on the mend from a concussion suffered in a Feb. 7 game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kings coach Darryl Sutter provided no new details on Martinez’s return from the head injury, other than to say the Stanley Cup Final hero was riding a stationary bicycle and not cleared to resume skating.
LIGHTNING AT KINGS
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
The Kings got an unexpected day off from coach Darryl Sutter on Sunday after taking a 3-1 victory Saturday from the Washington Capitals, their fourth consecutive win. The Kings’ streak began with a 4-2 victory Feb. 7 over the Lightning in Tampa. Although they have played a good deal better in all three zones, and in goal, the Kings (25-18-12) remain on the outside of the playoff picture. Three points and two teams separated the Kings from the final wild-card spot at the start of business Sunday. The Kings are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, but the Minnesota Wild, the team that’s one point ahead of them in the standings, is 8-0-2. Tyler Toffoli has five goals and seven points during a four-game point streak. The Lightning are 35-17-6 after Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Sharks in San Jose. Steven Stamkos scored his team-leading 30th goal and Ben Bishop stopped 33 shots in Tampa’s win.
Tomorrow’s notebook lead today …
The good news for the Kings is a line centered by Jeff Carter is carrying the team again, leading it to three consecutive victories. The bad news is a line centered by Carter is carrying the team again, leading it to three consecutive victories.
Carter and wingers Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli ignited a 6-1-1 start to the season for the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings. Now, with Pearson sidelined by a broken leg, Dwight King has joined Carter and Toffoli, and if the Kings are a one-line team again, then so be it.
Meet That 70s Line 2.0.
Toffoli recorded his first NHL hat trick and added an assist in the Kings’ 5-3 victory Thursday over the Calgary Flames. Carter had three assists and King had one goal and one assist in the pivotal third period, when the Kings broke open a close game.
Thursday’s game had the look and feel of a Kings contest from October, when That 70s Line ran wild. It was a short-lived hot streak for the three players with uniform numbers in the 70s, and the Kings came crashing to earth and, ultimately, out of a playoff position.
When coach Darryl Sutter shifted King onto the line with Carter and Toffoli, things began to click offensively again. Maybe it’s the uniform numbers. After all, King wears No. 74 on his jersey, joining No. 77 Carter and No. 73 Toffoli.
Whatever it is, the Kings couldn’t have won Thursday without That 70s Line.
“We’ve been trying to kind of work from our end out, the whole team,” Carter said of his line’s standout play during a three-game winning streak. “I think it’s been coming along, especially near the end of the road trip we saw it paying off for us. And again tonight.”
Toffoli, in particular, was superb against Calgary.
“He came back from his mono and had a really good couple of games and then he probably hit the wall a little bit,” Sutter said, referring to a bout of mononucleosis that sidelined Toffoli for six games last month. “Then the last three or four games, I think he and the line have carried us.”
Damien Cox of Canada’s sportsnet.ca, one of the best in the business, offers a few thoughts about the state of the Kings leading into the March 2 trade deadline. It’s worth a look. Here’s the link: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/deadline-decisions-can-kings-afford-to-boost-blueline/
Here’s Kings coach Darryl Sutter talking Wednesday morning about “the process” and whether it’s working again after victories in the last two games of the team’s five-game trip: “We’ve been an exceptional home team and a not exceptional road team. Basically, we come home now for three again, and work at that.”
The Kings lost their third consecutive game, a 3-2 come-from-ahead defeat Thursday to the Florida Panthers. They have lost seven of their last nine and are mired in a prolonged road slump that’s resulted in a tie with the lowly Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers for the fewest wins away from home this season (five). Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter told reporters in Sunrise, Fla., when asked what it would take to snap from their funk: “Probably win the next game. Logical, isn’t it?”