Jeff Carter, who is on injured reserve because of a foot injury and Jarret Stoll (upper-body injury) didn’t skate with their Kings teammates Tuesday, and there was no telling when they might be back on the ice. Justin Williams joined them on the sidelines when he couldn’t keep up with the pace of practice, according to Kings coach Darryl Sutter. The Kings had a conditioning-based workout Sunday, took a day off Monday and then went back to X’s and O’s on Tuesday.
Said Sutter: “Old guys, right? You learn the pace. There’s a pace they have to play at, a pace they have to practice at.”
Reporter: “Was it punitive?”
Sutter: “What’s punitive?”
Sutter: “I thought you asked if he was puking.”
Pause for laughter.
Sutter: “You don’t kick guys off the ice because they’re not working. You keep them out there to work.”
The Kings’ victory Wednesday over the San Jose Sharks extended their mastery over their Pacific Division rivals to 11-0-1 in their last 12 games at Staples Center, including the regular season and playoffs. The Kings won all four games against the Sharks at Staples Center in their second-round playoff series last spring, underscoring the value of home-ice advantage during the postseason. The Sharks went 10-1-1 to lead the NHL with 21 points before losing to the Kings 4-3 in overtime Wednesday. The Kings could have fallen seven points behind the Sharks, but by winning in OT, they moved within four. The Pacific Division race is one that bears monitoring all season, if for no other reason than the team with home-ice advantage will have an edge in the playoffs.
Right wing Justin Williams talked about it after the Kings’ 5-2 victory Saturday over the Dallas Stars at Staples Center. Defenseman Jake Muzzin addressed it, too. So did defenseman Drew Doughty after he scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the Kings’ fifth victory in their last six games. None of the three needed prompting.
Tomorrow’s game story tonight …
One of these nights, one of the Kings’ centers will actually put the puck into the back of the net. Until they do, until one of them actually scores a goal, the Kings will have to settle for some effective playmaking from Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and company.
The Kings choked the life out of the Florida Panthers on Sunday afternoon in Sunrise, Fla., handling them with a dominating performance that featured Ben Scrivens’ first start in goal, Daniel Carcillo’s first goal with the club and Justin Williams’ 500th career point. The Kings’ 3-0 victory gave them a 2-0 record to start their four-game trip. Here are three things worth noting about their 3-0 victory over the Panthers:
Justin Williams didn’t know what to expect when he joined the Kings in a three-team trade March 4, 2009. The only thing that was for certain was nothing was certain. Matters have changed dramatically for the veteran right wing, and for the Kings, too. Funny what a Stanley Cup championship and several long-term contract extensions for key players will do for an organization. Williams certainly has noticed a change in the club.
The defending Stanley Cup champions played like it in the second period, cutting the Blackhawks’ lead in half and generally dominating the play. It was nothing like their lackluster start in the first period of a win-or-go-home Game 5.
The Kings scored a shorthanded goal when Dwight King pounced on a rebound and slammed the puck behind Chicago goalie Corey Crawford. Justin Williams made the play happen with a determined rush down the ice and a shot on goal despite tight defensive pressure.
Justin Williams talked during Monday’s media session about watching the Kings’ 4-2 loss Sunday in Game 2 to the Chicago Blackhawks on video. Here’s more of what he said about what he saw from his team and from the Blackhawks:
“I’ve watched, actually, I just finished watching video of the game. There’s a lot of in-and-outs. There’s not a lot of sustained pressure. Given them credit. They’re a good checking team. They check you and try to get you frustrated. In turn, that’s what we try to do, but they’ve been more successful at it than we have.
“Do I feel we played a better game than in Game 1? Yes, but that’s what losers say.”
Here’s more from right wing Justin Williams from Monday’s limited media availability:
“We’ve been here, what? Three weeks ago? So, obviously, it’s four wins and go home. It’s not do or die tomorrow, but it is. I don’t know (why the Kings are 7-0 at home in the playoffs and 1-7 on the road). To tell you the truth, I don’t know why we went 10-1 last year on the road. I’m not sure. Preparation is key. We’re certainly not out of it. We’re going to do the best to cut this lead in half and go from there. Our focus is one game. That’s what it is when you’re down two. Cut it in half and the next day, you try again if you’re successful.”
Williams referred to the Kings’ 2-0 series deficit to the St. Louis Blues in the first round.
Dustin Brown went from playing left wing on a line with center Anze Kopitar and right wing Justin Williams to skating with third-liners Dwight King and Trevor Lewis during Wednesday’s practice. It remains to be seen if they’re together for Game 5 of the Kings’ second-round playoff series with the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
Here’s what Brown had to say: