The Kings held an optional practice Sunday, which meant there was a spirited soccer kick-around in the parking lot behind their El Segundo facility. Only a handful of players took the ice with assistant coaches John Stevens and Davis Payne and goalie coach Bill Ranford. Rookie goalie Martin Jones, still awaiting his NHL debut, was joined on the ice by injured defenseman Matt Greene plus injured forwards Matt Frattin and Trevor Lewis. Forward Tanner Pearson also skated.
Matt Frattin looked like he was ready for some football. He needed 14 stitches to mend a mouth wound after Pierre-Cedric Labrie of the Tampa Bay Lightning clipped him Tuesday. Frattin, a forward, also needed a football-style guard to protect his injury for Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
Kings coac Darryl Sutter made a couple of minor tweaks to the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars at Staples Center, scratching ineffective forward Matt Frattin and defenseman Alec Martinez. Colin Fraser replaced Frattin and Jake Muzzin took Martinez’s spot in the defense crops.
Part two of our series …
Can the Kings avoid another left wing letdown?
The Kings’ lack of production from their left side was a concern for coach Darryl Sutter last season and nothing happened to change his mind during training camp. The Kings flipped newcomer Matt Frattin from the right wing to the left in the hope that something would click with him, center Mike Richards and right wing Jeff Carter. Dustin Brown missed almost all of camp because of a hamstring and will start the season on the third line. The Kings cleared room on the left side by declining to re-sign the unproductive Dusitn Penner, who inked a deal with the Ducks. Dwight King earned a start on the top line with center Anze Kopitar and right wing Justin Williams with an excellent training camp. Sutter said he was pleased by the way King met the challenge. Sutter wasn’t happy by the way others failed in their attempts to impress him and secure a big-time role. No matter what else happens this season, this is a position the Kings need to improve over 2012-13.
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said when asked if Matt Frattin can click with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards: “If he wants to play with them guys he has to be a real north-south energy guy. I didn’t get to see him live in the first game (Sunday’s loss to the Phoenix Coyotes). Quite honest, this is the first time I’ve seen him live. Give him some power-play time, give him some penalty-killing time. Make him work.”
Here’s the second part of an interview with new Kings forward Matt Frattin, who was acquired during the offseason in the multi-player deal that sent backup goalie Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Of playing with veterans Jeff Carter and Mike Richards for two exhibition games so far, Frattin said of his new linemates:
“They’re guys who have played in the Olympics for Team Canada plenty of times. They’ve definitely proved themselves. They definitely are bringing me along. They’re great linemates for me. First game was a tough one, I guess. (Tuesday), was definitely different. Got back to work Monday. I’ve been here over a month now. Every since I got traded, I’ve gotten a warm welcome from the leaders in the room. That’s awesome to be a part of. They’re a great team, a great group of guys. I kind of wanted to get here, find a place (to live) and meet the guys as they came in instead of 25 guys all at once. That’s why I can down here about three weeks ahead of time.”
Matt Frattin has settled comfortably into his new home in Hermosa Beach. It’s about a block from the beach and a world away from his previous place of residence in Toronto. Frattin has been in Southern California for about a month now. The question is, can the former Maple Leaf find a comfort zone on a potentially productive line with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards? He talked about playing with the Kings’ veteran forwards in two exhibitions.
“They’re two great players,” Frattin said of Carter and Richards. “Carts has the speed down the wing and he’s got that long reach and has a great shot. Richie’s just smart and hard working. He’ll get the puck if you’re wheeling. It’s only two games. Tough first game and then a good second game. It’s early. We have to keep working at it and build that chemistry. I ask questions and they tell me what they’re thinking. It’s pretty good communications between all three of us.”
The Kings routed the Ducks 6-0 in an exhibition game Tuesday at the Honda Center, taking advantage of a lackluster showing by the hosts. Jeff Carter scored two goals and Matt Frattin, Scott Sabourin, Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar also scored. Jonathan Quick played the first two periods in goal and stopped all 12 shots he faced. Here are three takeaways from the Kings’ first victory of the exhibition season:
1. Frattin could skate with Carter and Mike Richards this season, but he’s going to have to earn the privilege. He’s going to have to play with energy and provide a bit of defensive responsibility. Frattin, a left wing, took a tentative step in the Kings’ split-squad loss Sunday to the Phoenix Coyotes. He then took a giant leap during Tuesday’s rout of the Ducks, scoring the Kings’ first goal and playing an energetic game alongside his more heralded linemates. In addition to his goal, he also had two assists and was a plus-three in 16 minutes, 5 seconds of ice time. It’s a good start for Frattin, who was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Jonathan Bernier deal during the offseason.
2. It’s difficult in exhibition games to judge strengths and weaknesses, and that certainly was the case with the Kings icing a fairly competitive lineup and the Ducks primarily going with inexperienced youngsters. Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he couldn’t judge the game in total, but tried to break it up by watching individuals. He said he liked the play of goaltenders Quick and Mathieu Garon. Quick faced only a handful of shots in 40 minutes. Garon faced a bit more pressure and responded by making 11 saves in the game’s final period. It was a positive development for Garon, who is in training camp on a tryout basis and who gave up five goals in Sunday’s loss to the Coyotes.
3. Carter scored two goals and added an assist on Doughty’s goal. It was vintage Carter, a reminder why he can be so dangerous for a team that sometimes (OK, frequently) struggles to score goals. Carter seemingly touched the puck only a handful of times during the game, but managed to do something productive on each occasion. He swatted home a fat rebound for one third-period goal and then whistled a shot into the back of the net for another, helping to turn the game into a runaway. He has the speed and the hands to turn an innocent play into a legitimate goal-scoring chance. He certainly can make goaltenders look bad, and he showed Tuesday how valuable he can be for the Kings.
The Kings divided their 57-man training camp roster into two teams for a scrimmage Saturday in El Segundo. Actually, it was 56 since team captain Dustin Brown sat out because of a sore hamstring. Matt Frattin scored the only goal in the 40-minute scrimmage, leading the Black team to a 1-0 victory over the White squad. Frattin skated with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to start the scrimmage.
Frattin was acquired in the Kings’ deal that sent goaltender Jonathan Bernier to Toronto.