Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn’t think the team played all that poorly in Game 1.
“We liked our team the last game,” Sutter said Saturday on the eve of Game 2. “We didn’t like the first goal and we didn’t like the last minute of the first period. It’s what I said after the game and what I said (Friday), we didn’t have a problem, we didn’t have a problem with the way we played as individuals.”
Sutter’s statement came in response to a question about unproductive forward Mike Richards, who hasn’t scored a goal since March 25 against the Washington Capitals and whose last assist was Feb. 26 against the Colorado Avalanche.
“I don’t think it’s one player,” Sutter said. “Mike was good last game. It’s not about one player.”
Rest or rust is always an issue at this point in the season as coaches and players balance two apparently conflicting goals before the end of the regular season. Healing old wounds (and avoiding new ones) is critical if a team wants to make a long run in the postseason. Staying sharp with only a few meaningless regular-season games remaining is important, too. But you can’t win in the playoffs without healthy players. Many a team has ended the regular season with a limp.
Consider the case of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who suffered an apparent left shoulder injury while making a routine-looking check on the San Jose Sharks’ Tyler Kennedy on Wednesday. Doughty did not return to the game and the Kings said he suffered an unspecified upper-body injury. The Kings lost the game 2-1, but Doughty’s health was of far greater concern.
Doughty played in his 199th consecutive game Wednesday, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether his streak would continue when the Kings (45-27-6) faced the Canucks (34-32-11) on Saturday. Vancouver is all but eliminated from the playoff race; the Kings are locked into third place in the Pacific Division. Most likely, the Kings will play the Sharks in the first round.
The smart money is on Doughty sitting out until he’s back to something close to 100 percent. Shoulders are tricky things. You can’t play the hard-nosed style the Kings do without having two healthy shoulders. Or knees. Or ankles. Or you name it. So, expect to see Kings coach Darryl Sutter give some of his best players a little bit of rest here and there for the rest of the regular season.
Better to lose a little now and rest up for the more important games coming up.
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter had to say after the Minnesota Wild rallied in the third period for a 3-2 victory Monday night: “We were better in the third (period) than we were in the first. We turned a lot of pucks over in the neutral zone. It had nothing to do with the third period, it was all the first period.”
Sure, the Kings held a 1-0 lead in the first period and were outscored 2-0 in the third, but Sutter didn’t like the way their sloppy play led to chances for the Wild in the opening 20 minutes. He also didn’t like how that set the tone for what followed. He wasn’t happy with the final result, but the game wasn’t won or lost in the third.
That was his story and he was sticking to it Monday.
The Kings made a little history for goaltender Jonathan Quick and coach Darryl Sutter with a 2-1 shootout victory Thursday night over the Washington Capitals. Quick earned his 171st victory, tying Rogie Vachon’s franchise record, and Sutter won his 500th game as an NHL coach, matching Toe Blake for 17th on the NHL list.
“To be honest, I did not know I was that close until a couple of games ago and somebody brought it up,” Quick said. “It’s special and, obviously, wins are a team effort, so I think that makes it a little more special because it’s 20 guys contributing toward the win. Obviously, if it was not for the shootout, I would be another season behind (Vachon). He didn’t have the luxury of the shootout, so in my mind, I’m still chasing him.”
Said Sutter when asked what the milestone meant to him: “A lot. I’ve been around a long time. Kind of odd in the shootout, though.”
It’s no secret Kings captain Dustin Brown has struggled this season, but coach Darryl Sutter took the rather dramatic step Thursday of benching the left wing during a 3-2 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Asked if Brown was injured, which might account for the fact that he played only 10 minutes, 12 seconds, Sutter said, “No, he got benched. The line was tired, so they din’t play that much.”
Brown was unavailable for immediate comment.
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said when asked about the trade deadline:
“Trade deadline is irrelevant to our hockey club. I don’t know what changes. You guys have been covering this team since, when did we start training camp? So, there is a salary cap and it effected us in training camp and we said we were going to play young guys and that’s what we’ll continue to do. Quite honest, for me, I don’t even think about it. I think about who we play tonight to beat Montreal and who we’re going to put in the lineup when we go to Winnipeg. It’s got no bearing on what we do. All that other stuff, it’s not hard to figure out. Just do the math. I don’t think our young players are in a position where they’re going to hurt us. They’re only in a position where they’re only going to get better. I’d rather play them for sure.”
Asked if he tuned in to watch the pre-deadline coverage, Sutter said:
“Most of it is (fertilizer). I wish I got paid to lie or make stuff up. That would be great. That would be unbelievable.”
The Kings went 2-5-1 during their Grammys Trip, which included a loss to the Ducks at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. They began the trip with a victory over the St. Louis Blues, then lost five in a row before posting a victory Monday at San Jose followed by a loss Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Returning to Staples Center should be helpful in turning around the Kings’ sagging fortunes.
Or maybe not.
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said when asked about a possible energy boost from Thursday’s homecoming: “Why would that make any difference? What are they, machines? I mean, why? We played two games in 36 hours, so why would they? I mean, why do you all of a sudden get energy because you’re at home?”
The Kings’ upcoming schedule isn’t an easy one. During a four-game homestand that leads into the Olympic break, they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 6.
Here are three things wrong with the struggling Kings going into Monday’s Pacific Division grudge match against the San Jose Sharks:
Kings coach Darryl Sutter coached his 1,000th game in the NHL on Saturday, but the team didn’t get around to truly honoring his achievement until before Thursday’s game against the Boston Bruins. Sutter was given a hero’s welcome by Kings fans and then presented with a new pair of cowboy boots. The man known as the Jolly Rancher because of his ties to the family farm in Viking, Alberta, seemed touched. Later, he cracked, “I thought they were going to give me a tractor.”
Talk about an Arctic vortex The Kings’ sticks turned into icicles recently.