Kings forward Mike Richards skated through his 21st consecutive game without scoring a goal. He did have an assist on Drew Doughty’s power-play goal, the Kings’ lone score in a 3-1 loss Saturday to the Detroit Red Wings. He also had eight shots on goal and played 22 shifts over 16 minutes, 46 seconds. He hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 25 against the Vancouver Canucks, however.
“He played a good game tonight,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of Richards, who has 30 points (six goals, 24 assists) in 46 games. “It was probably his best game, with the most opportunities he’s had in 21 games.”
Jeff Carter hasn’t played since suffering a foot injury in the Kings’ overtime victory Oct. 30 over the San Jose Sharks. Reporters in Vancouver posted blog items indicating it was possible Carter could be back in the Kings’ lineup for Monday’s game against the Canucks. He was expected to skate with Mike Richards and Dwight King. The Kings must activate Carter from injured reserve, however, and make a corresponding move to make room for him on their 23-man roster.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick, who is expected to be sidelined by a groin strain until Christmas at the earliest, would be the likely candidate to be put on IR.
The Kings (11-6-0) left town Monday morning to begin a four-game trip Tuesday against the Sabres in Buffalo. They also face the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers. As of Monday, the Rangers were the only team with a winning record. The Kings muzzled the struggling Sabres (3-15-1) during a 2-0 shutout by goaltender Jonathan Quick last Thursday at Staples Center. Quick recorded his first shutout of the season and the 26th of his career, six behind all-time club leader Rogie Vachon.
The Kings’ power play has clicked six times in the last 20 chances with the man-advantage for a 30 percent success rate. Mike Richards has points in four consecutive games (three goals, five assists). He also has 11 points (five goals, six assists) in his last eight games. Jarret Stoll (upper body) has resumed skating, but Mike Carter (foot) isn’t expected to return to the ice any time soon. In addition, Kyle Clifford suffered a head injury in the Kings’ victory Saturday over the Vancouver Canucks. The Sabres, last in the NHL, are winless at home this season (0-8-1).
The Edmonton Oilers went into Sunday’s game against the Kings as one of the NHL’s biggest messes. They gave up a league-high 48 goals through 12 games to start the season and were a dismal 3-8-1 after a 5-4 loss Saturday to the Phoenix Coyotes. Their goaltending was subpar, with Jason LaBarbera not exactly sharp as a tack. Richard Bachman was recalled from the minor leagues and he got the start against the Kings, and nearly earned a victory. The Kings took 48 shots at him, but got only one past him during a 2-1 shootout victory. Here are three things to consider about a game that very nearly got away from the Kings:
Some people can’t enough statistics. The Kings’ crack media relations staff came up with a few gems after Thursday’s wild 7-4 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. For instance, the Kings last scored seven times in a game in an 8-1 rout of the Vancouver Canucks on April 1, 2010. Guessing that was no April’s Fool joke.
There were a few more facts and figures, including:
He might be public enemy No. 1 among the less polished among the Kings fans, who rail profanely at him on his every visit to Staples Center, but Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan knows quite a bit about their favorite team. Here’s what he had to say after the Kings’ 7-4 victory Thursday over the Coyotes: “Getting the quick one on the power play gets them feeling good. You know it was only a matter of time before (Anze) Kopitar and (Mike) Richards got going and once they start feeling good, they’re a pretty good team.”
Kopitar scored a power-play goal in the game’s first minute, his first goal of the season. Richards also scored his first of the seasons. It wasn’t accurate to say the Kings struggled while Kopitar and Richards, the team’s top two centers went without a goal in the season’s first 10 games, It was a head-scratcher, though. Let’s see if the Kings move up the standings in the Pacific Division now that they have broken through with goals.
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 hit the road Thursday for a four-game trip that starts Friday in Raleigh, N.C., lugging some serious baggage after four games to start the season. Here’s the third of three things to watch during an eight-night trek to play the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators:
No team has won the Stanley Cup in October, but plenty of them have lost a chance to play for it with lackluster starts to the season. It’s only been four games, including two at Staples Center, but there are already some disturbing defensive numbers for the defensive-minded Kings. Take a look at some of their individual plus-minus defensive ratings. Matt Frattin and Jake Muzzin are each minus-5. Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty and Jarret Stoll are each minus-3. No one on the roster is a plus. That’s a poor sign for the Kings, who pride themselves on suffocating the life out of opponents. Look for it to improve soon. If not, then coach expect Darryl Sutter to continue to tinker with his lineup and especially his line combinations.
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.”