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.
The Kings placed defenseman Matt Greene and forward Kyle Clifford on the injured reserve list and recalled goaltender Martin Jones and forward Tanner Pearson from the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League. Greene and Clifford have unspecified upper-body injuries. It’s believed Greene’s injury is not related to the back surgery that sidelined him for almost all of last season. Clifford suffered a head injury during the Kings’ victory Saturday over Vancouver.
The Kings think quite highly of the 23-year-old Jones, who was 9-2-2 in 13 appearances for Manchester this season. He also has a 2.24 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and one shutout in his fourth season with the Monarchs. Pearson, 21, had 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 15 games in the minor leagues. He made his NHL debut during the Kings’ second-round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks. He was scoreless in the Kings’ Game 3 loss.
After he watched the Kings give up two power-play goals in the first period Saturday against the Nashville Predators, after he saw their penalty-killing unit surrender at least one goal for the six consecutive game, coach Darryl Sutter decided to say something.
Kings defenseman Matt Greene did not join his teammates for their hourlong practice Wednesday, and he is not expected to play in Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. He has an undisclosed injury… Right wing Justin Williams returned to the practice rink one day after Kings coach Darryl Sutter went him to the dressing room midway through the workout because he couldn’t keep pace. … Williams skated on a line with center Anze Kopitar and left wing Dustin Brown. Their line was broken up by Sutter in Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators. … Center Jarret Stoll continued to be sidelined by an unspecified upper-body injury. He was injured in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Predators.
The Kings’ penalty-killing unit gave up two first-period power-play goals to the Nashville Predators during Saturday’s 4-3 loss. Coach Darryl Sutter later questioned the effectiveness of defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell, and even wondered about Jonathan Quick’s play in goal. The Kings have given up at least one power-play goal in six consecutive games.
The quality of the Kings’ penalties was lacking in the early going, however. Daniel Carcillo went to the box for kneeing on a play some 150 feet from his own net. Kyle Clifford followed him later after taking a boarding penalty in the neutral zone, more than 100 feet from his own goal.
“Those are penalties you don’t want,” team captain Dustin Brown said, speaking generally about penalties in the offensive and neutral zones rather than specifically about Carcillo’s and Clifford’s infractions. “We have to be smarter, that’s for sure. We’ve also got to kill penalties off at the end of the day.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter pulled no punches when assessing blame for the team’s faulty penalty-kill in the closing seconds of their 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Monday night. Said Sutter: “Greener should have cleared it (the puck). He should have had it down the ice. He’s one of our top penalty killers. We had the (right) four guys on the ice, and we didn’t get the puck down the ice. It was a good shot (by Calgary’s T.J. Brodie).”
Greener, of course, is veteran defenseman Matt Greene.
“We need to be stronger on pucks, be better positionally and just (be better) on everything,” Greene said of the Kings’ penalty-kill. “If you give up three (power-play) goals in a game it is unacceptable and we have got to be better.”
It might sound strange considering the Kings’ lack of scoring during losses to the St. Louis Blues in the first two games of their first-round playoff series, but coach Darryl Sutter said Friday he’s considering playing defenseman Matt Greene in Game 3 on Saturday. Greene was scratched for the first two games of the best-of-7 series. Greene also isn’t exactly an offensive threat, what with two career playoff goals in 50 games.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said left wing Dustin Penner would return to the lineup for Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks and that defenseman Matt Greene might be sidelined for the regular-season finale at Staples Center.
Penner was scratched for the Kings’ loss Wednesday to the Red Wings in Detroit, but was skating with right wing Justin Williams and center Jarret Stoll during Friday’s practice at the team’s El Segundo training facility.
The Kings won’t win the Western Conference or the Pacific Division. The best they can do is finish fourth in the conference and second in the division. But with only three regular-season games remaining before they begin their Stanley Cup championship defense, it would be difficult to find a team playing better then the Kings are at the moment.
Jake Muzzin conducted a wide-ranging interview with reporters after Saturday’s practice in El Segundo. He fielded a variety of questions, perhaps the most intriguing of which centered on his ability to make the most of an opportunity to play with the Kings after prolonged injuries to veteran defenseman Matt Greene (back) and Willie Mitchell (knee).
Here’s some of what the rookie defenseman had to say:
“I know I have to continue playing well, and continue working and getting better, and I have lots to improve on and stuff like that. With these new guys coming in and old guys coming back in, it’s good for the team. It’s a competitive environment in here, which brings the best out in all the guys. I just have to continue working and getting better, and hopefully I continue playing with ‘Greener.’”
Here’s what he said when asked about forming a defense pair with Greene:
“Well, we all know what ‘Greener’ brings to the table. He’s a big, physical guy. Simple, hard working. So I just want to continue working hard, being physical like I have been and moving pucks. Hopefully, I contribute on the power play and just continue moving here.”
Here’s what he said when asked about feeling more settled with the Kings:
“I feel a little bit more comfortable. I mean, when you’re first here, you don’t want to make a mistake because you feel like you may be sent down or out of the lineup and stuff like that. But the game’s full of mistakes, and you have to play like you’re not afraid, right? You’re going to make mistakes, so you might as well go out and play. I have kind of settled down a little bit in that aspect of the game and I have to continue with that, actually. You’ve got to play confident and comfortable out there. You’re going to make more mistakes if you were trying to play, like, “Oh, I’m scared not to make a mistake.’”