Anze Kopitar didn’t know anything was wrong until he saw Jeff Carter wearing a walking boot Friday morning. Carter suffered an unspecified lower-body injury during the Kings’ 4-3 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter made it clear defenseman Drew Doughty is quite a ways from being one of the NHL’s best defenseman. Not that he isn’t making strides, mind you, but Sutter outlined the coaching staff’s approach to putting Doughty on the path to success. Said Sutter: ”Tried to cut his minutes back. It doesn’t sound like much, by two or three a game, which should help his energy level. Trying to get him to be on the ice for fewer goals against and trying to get him on the ice for more goals five-on-five. Trying to get him to be a better penalty-killer. He’s done a good job on our power play. But you’ve got to be the whole package (to be considered a Norris Trophy candidate).”
Coach Darryl Sutter ranked Trevor Lewis as the Kings’ second-best penalty-killer after Anze Kopitar. It almost goes without saying that goaltender Jonathan Quick is actually the Kings’ best penalty-killer, what with his customary array of quality saves whenever the team is shorthanded.
“We have good penalty-killing because of our goaltending,” Sutter said.
Avoiding penalties is always the first step, though.
“You have to learn how to do that,” Sutter said of playing a hard-nosed but legal game. “It wasn’t a very disciplined team at one point, and if you look at teams that aren’t very disciplined the last few years, they have a hard time making the playoffs.”
Coach Darryl Sutter had a solution Wednesday to the Kings’ penalty-killing woes during Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames. Don’t take so many penalties. Don’t take them in bunches. Don’t make it easy for the opposition to get so many scoring opportunities.
The Kings ended a four-game drought without a power-play goal when right wing Justin Williams chipped a backhander into the back of the net in the first period of Saturday’s victory over the Dallas Stars. Their last power-play goal was in an Oct. 9 win over the Ottawa Senators. Of equal or greater importance to Kings coach Darryl Sutter was the penalty-killing unit’s ongoing excellence. He was pleased by their success, of course, but only to a point. Sutter always believes the Kings can do better. At everything. All the time.
The Kings have killed off 14 consecutive shorthanded situations over their last four games, with goaltender Jonathan Quick serving as their best penalty killer during Saturday’s victory over the Stars. Quick made several excellent saves while the Kings were shorthanded. The Kings might have relied on him a little too much for Sutter’s taste.
“There were times tonight we killed the penalty and there were other teams we didn’t and Quick had to make big saves he should haven’t to,” Sutter said.
After starting the season with six of their first eight games on the road, the Kings return to Staples Center Saturday night to begin a stretch of eight of their next nine at home. The Kings split their first two at home, losing to the New York Rangers and defeating the Ottawa Senators.
The Kings split the first two games of the 2013-14 season, which wasn’t great but certainly not bad considering the distance they traveled to Minnesota and Winnipeg to play on consecutive nights to start the campaign. Kings coach Darryl Sutter fielded a couple of questions Sunday about whether the results of early-season games, good or bad, tend to be overblown by overeager fans, reporters and other outsiders.
The Kings played their customary methodical game and pulled out a 3-2 shootout victory Thursday over the Minnesota Wild. Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter scored in regulation and Anze Kopitar and Carter had the only goals during a shootout. Jonathan Quick blanked the Wild in the final two periods plus overtime and the shootout. Stop if you’ve read any of this before. The Kings followed a similar game plan the last two seasons. Here’s a closer look at the Kings’ victory in their season-opening game in St. Paul, Minn.
Can the Kings make another long playoff run?
Some pundits around the league selected the Kings as Stanley Cup finalists, which would be a remarkable feat in an era when repeat champions are non-existent and multiple deep runs in the postseason are extremely rare. The Kings would seem to have the depth, skill and continuity to chase the Chicago Blackhawks as the best team in the Western Conference. It looks like a third straight prolonged run could be in the making for the Kings. They must get balanced scoring. They must get a little lucky in avoiding injuries. They must continue to stick to coach Darryl Sutter’s game plan. They must play their steady style of hockey from start to finish of every game, from now until season’s end. Then, if they do all those things, then they should be at or near the top of the conference when all is said and done.
The Kings’ roster is remarkably unchanged from the one that won the Stanley Cup championship in 2012. Does that ease coach Darryl Sutter’s mind going into Thursday’s season-opening game against the Minnesota Wild at St. Paul, Minn? Of course not.