L.A. Kings practice report: Jeff Carter sits out and Barry Melrose to be honored

Welcome home, Kings. No snow here.

Welcome home, Kings. No snow here.

Here are a few odds and ends from Wednesday’s practice, the Kings’ first since returning to the sun and warm temps after their dreary trip …

The Kings will honor former coach Barry Melrose as part of their Legends Night Series before Thursday’s game against Calgary. Melrose coached the Kings from 1992-95, guiding them to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1993. …

Jeff Carter didn’t practice with the Kings in order to attend the funeral of his grandfather. Coach Darryl Sutter said Carter would return to the team in time for tonight’s game against the Flames, “weather pending.” …

Defenseman Alec Martinez continues to be termed day-to-day after suffering a concussion. Wednesday was not his day, however. He did not skate with his teammates, and he’s not expected to play against the Flames. …

 

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Pregame reading: Los Angeles Kings at Tampa Bay Lightning

Typewriter

 

KINGS AT LIGHTNING

Faceoff: 2 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM

The Kings (21-18-12) lost their third in a row to start their five game trip and remained mired in 12th place in the Western Conference after a 3-2 defeat Thursday to the Florida Panthers. They also were five points out of the final wild-card spot. The Kings are 5-12-6 away from Staples Center, tied with the lowly Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers for the fewest road victories in the 30-team NHL. The Kings’ chances of making the playoffs were down to only 12.5 percent, according to the website sportsclubstats.com. Kings forward Jeff Carter has a defensive rating of plus-14 in home games, seventh-best in the league. Carter’s defensive rating of minus-12 on the road is 798th, however. Carter has scored 12 of his 14 goals and recorded 17 of 22 his assists at home. Defenseman Drew Doughty is the Kings’ leading scorer on the road with 14 points, including four goals. Tampa Bay is first in the Eastern Conference with a 33-15-5 record. Steve Stamkos leads the Lightning with 28 goals, tied for third overall in the NHL with two others.

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L.A. Kings best players aren’t their best producers in road games

Not to pick on Jeff Carter, because he’s only one of many of the Kings’ top producers who are struggling on the road. But the numbers simply don’t add up for a number of the Kings’ best offensive players. Carter has scored 12 of his 14 goals and recorded 17 of his 22 assists at Staples Center, for instance. The home vs. road disparity is widespread, however. It helps to explains the Kings’ 5-12-6 road mark. Here’s a look at the Kings’ top scorers’ road woes:

Anze Kopitar, 11 goals, 28 assists overall; 2 goals, 6 assists on the road.

Carter: 14 goals, 22 assists overall; 2 goals, five assists on the road.

Drew Doughty: 4 goals, 26 assists overall; 4 goals, 10 assists on the road.

Marian Gaborik: 16 goals, 13 assists overall; 6 goals, 4 assists on the road.

Tyler Toffoli: 13 goals, 16 assists overall; 4 goals, 4 assists on the road.

Justin Williams 13 goals, 12 assists overall; 7 goals, 5 assists on the road.

Also: Carter has a plus/minus rating of minus-12 on the road and Kopitar has a minus-14 on the road.

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Pregame reading: Los Angeles Kings at Boston Bruins

KINGS AT BRUINS

Faceoff: 4 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM

The Kings begin a five-game trip in Boston on Sunday, hit the White House for a celebration of their Stanley Cup championship Monday and then finish with stops to play the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Kings must improve on their 5-9-6 road record if they hope to move back among the top eight teams in the Western Conference that will qualify for the playoffs. The Kings (21-15-12) were one point behind the Calgary Flames (26-20-3) for the final wild-card berth at the start of business Friday. Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 38 points, including 27 assists, and Jeff Carter has 36 points, including 22 assists. Carter had two goals and one assist in the Kings’ victory Wednesday over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Bruins are 26-16-7 after a victory Thursday over the New York Islanders.

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L.A. Kings forward Jeff Carter talks about teammate and friend Mike Richards

Here’s some of what Kings forward Jeff Carter had to say about teammate and friend Mike Richards clearing waivers and being assigned to Manchester of the AHL on Tuesday: “It’s tough, obviously. We’ve got a pretty close team here. Any time anybody leaves it’s always tough. We understand those things happen.

“He brought a lot to this room and a lot of stuff, unless you’re in this room, you don’t see. It was tough on him, too. It’s an opportunity for others to step up. It’s an opportunity for some of the young guys to become leaders. …

“I saw him last night. … I think he’s all right. Nobody wants to get sent down. It’s a (lousy) part of the game. I think he’s handled it well. He’s been around a long time. He knows how it works. I’m sure he’ll work hard and we’ll see him here again soon.”

 

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Dustin Brown says L.A. Kings happy to take ‘step in the right direction’

The Kings' effort and energy, as evidenced by Kyle Clifford's scoring chance, were improved in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The Kings’ effort and energy, as evidenced by Kyle Clifford’s scoring chance, were improved in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

 

Tomorrow’s notebook lead today …

The Kings were far from flawless during their 3-2 shootout loss Saturday to the NHL-leading Ducks at Staples Center, but a return to a more disciplined and well-ordered game was “a step in the right direction,” captain Dustin Brown said Sunday.

Brown called the shootout a “crap shoot,” a reference to the Kings’ 1-7 record this season in the skills contest. Kings shooters are a woeful 2 for 28 in eight shootouts, which includes misfires from Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik on Saturday against the Ducks’ Frederik Andersen.

Jakob Silfverberg scored the only goal in the shootout and the Ducks (30-10-6) increased their lead over the Kings (20-14-11) in the Pacific Division to 15 points. Alec Martinez and Kopitar scored in regulation for the Kings. Ryan Getzlaf and Sami Vatanen scored for the Ducks.

The bottom line in a bottom line game is that the Kings’ play was dramatically improved over recent games, including a dreary 5-3 loss Wednesday to the lackluster New Jersey Devils. The Kings were far better defensively and in goal Saturday against the Ducks.

The Kings squandered leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but they didn’t give up goals in bunches, as they did against the Devils, who scored three times in 68 seconds in the second period. The Kings played the Ducks even in special teams, with each team clicking once on the power play.

However, the Kings were outshot 31-28 by the Ducks, the first time they’ve been outshot since Nov. 29, a remarkable run that hasn’t translated into victories. The Kings have lost two in a row and are 3-3-4 in their last 10 games going into Monday night’s home contest against the Calgary Flames.

The Kings awoke Sunday in ninth place in the Western Conference, one spot behind the Flames. Only the top eight teams in each conference advance to the playoffs, and in order to defend their Stanley Cup championship, the Kings must finish in the top eight.

“We played a really good hockey game, but we didn’t close it out coming into the third period,” Gaborik said Saturday after Vatanen, a defenseman, scored a tying power-play goal in the third. “The shootout has been an issue for the whole year.

“The points are getting away from us in the shootout, so we just need to find a way to put some goals in. We’ve been practicing a bit, but we just have to get it done. We have enough talent for the guys to score goals. We just need to get the one win and the confidence level will go up.”

 

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One more thing about the L.A. Kings shootout loss to the Ducks

The Kings fell to 1-7 in shootouts with a 3-2 loss Saturday to the Ducks at Staples Center, which helps to explain why they are scrambling to hold onto a playoff spot. Their shooters are a woeful 2 for 28 after Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik failed to score against the Ducks’ Frederik Andersen.

“We just can’t pick the right guys,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “I think we (picked) really well. Jeff, Kopi and Gabby. If you were betting on the game in shootouts, wouldn’t you choose Jeff, Kopi and Gabby?”

The Kings’ record of 20-14-11 left them in fifth place in the Pacific Division.

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One more thing about the L.A. Kings’ loss to the New York Rangers

Speed kills. The New York Rangers proved it Thursday during a 4-3 victory over the Kings at Staples Center in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final. The Rangers skated around the flat-footed Kings again and again, especially during a three-goal second period. Here’s more on the subject from Kings coach Darryl Sutter:

“We had trouble keeping up with a fast team. There’s two ways of neutralizing speed: be fast yourself or slow them down. Even on the (Jeff) Carter line, we couldn’t handle it.

“You can’t take penalties. You need to be able to skate with them. You need to have the speed in your lineup to do it. You have to be able to check and some top players tonight were not in the checking mood.

“You can’t give up four goals and expect to win. Ever.”

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L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter talks about struggling forward Jeff Carter

Jeff Carter, far left, is in a slump. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)

Jeff Carter, far left, is in a slump. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)

 

Kings forward Jeff Carter hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 18 against the Florida Panthers, a dreary stretch of 13 games in which he also has only three assists. So, when a beat reporter asked Kings coach Darryl Sutter on Wednesday if Carter was getting enough scoring chances, Sutter said, “Not consistently. Not consistently.”

Sutter also said: “He hasn’t scored a goal for a month tomorrow. Nov. 18. I have it all marked down. … We’re trying to get all our top guys to be more productive players right not. It’s not just Jeff Carter.”

In addition, Sutter said one way to eliminate some of the pressure from Carter is having him play on center Anze Kopitar’s wing. “There was a time last year when (Dwight) King, ‘Kopi’ and ‘Carts’ were our best line,” Sutter recalled. “Just trying to manage it game by game … the reason why you shift guys around is because top guys aren’t producing. That’s clearly why, if you look around the league now, why guys get shifted around.”

 

 

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