Mike Richards breaks down all that makes Anze Kopitar such a standout player

Mike Richards had plenty to say when asked Tuesday how difficult it is to play the sort of exceptional two-way game fellow Kings forward Anze Kopitar has played during a season in which he was named a Selke Trophy finalist.

“To play like ‘Kopi’, there’s maybe two, three guys in the world that can,” Richards said. “I’d say it’s pretty hard. But it just seems like every time he’s on the ice, he calms everything down, whether it’s just a point in the game where it’s hectic out there, we’re running around. He steps on the ice, he seems to have that calming influence on everybody, just the way he plays.

“He’s a big, strong guy. He has skill. He’s really got it all. Then you put the emphasis that he does on playing on the defensive side on the puck, that really makes a special player. What he can do on the ice, take over games. …

“After a couple of games ago, where Johnny (Chicago captain Jonathan Toews) had his game, played really well, ‘Kopi’ was right there with him, too. He can elevate. It’s really fun to watch those two go at it against each other. To see the skill level that he has. …

“I think Darryl (Sutter, Kings coach,) has helped him a lot, putting a little more emphasis on that defensive side. If he played in the Eastern Conference on a team that didn’t stress defense as much as us, he could easily be a 100-point guy. He sacrifices that to be a two-way player and play on both sides of the puck.

“We see it every day, so we kind of get spoiled. But I think a couple years ago when we won the Cup, it was kind of his coming out party, and everybody now realizes how good he is.”

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Jeff Carter, Mike Richards recall rallying from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series

Kings forwards Jeff Carter and Mike Richards have been here before, down and counted out four years ago. Carter, Richards and the Philadelphia Flyers did the unthinkable during the spring of 2010, however. They rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins four games to three.

The Flyers joined the 1975 New York Islanders and the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only teams in Stanley Cup playoff history to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-7 playoff series. Carter, Richards and their Kings teammates hope to become the fourth team to pull it off.

The San Jose Sharks lead their first-round series against the Kings 3-0, with Game 4 set for Thursday night at Staples Center. The Sharks won the first two games in San Jose by scores of 6-3 and 7-2 and then pulled out a 4-3 overtime win in Game 3 on Tuesday at Staples Center.

“There’s not much you can say or show or do to inspire a team,” Richards said Wednesday. “I think you should be inspired enough with the opportunity we have in front of us. It’s easy to say, but I think as a group you just have to know, one, it’s not going to be easy and, two, it is possible.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for us to show everybody who’s kind of writing us off right now and to show how resilient we are as a group. We’ve done good things in the past. This is just another thing we have to be excited to accomplish.”

Said Carter: “It’s just one game at a time. That’s what it has to be. Three-oh is a big hole, but it’s been done before. You win that one game and you start to get some momentum going. We have to go into their building and win two games. You have to approach it as one game. You win that one game and you put a little doubt in their mind and they know we’re coming. That’s the way it has to be.”

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Kings coach Darryl Sutter refuses to criticize his team’s play in Game 1 loss

Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn’t think the team played all that poorly in Game 1.

“We liked our team the last game,” Sutter said Saturday on the eve of Game 2. “We didn’t like the first goal and we didn’t like the last minute of the first period. It’s what I said after the game and what I said (Friday), we didn’t have a problem, we didn’t have a problem with the way we played as individuals.”

Sutter’s statement came in response to a question about unproductive forward Mike Richards, who hasn’t scored a goal since March 25 against the Washington Capitals and whose last assist was Feb. 26 against the Colorado Avalanche.

“I don’t think it’s one player,” Sutter said. “Mike was good last game. It’s not about one player.”

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Goal drought prompts the question: what’s wrong with Mike Richards?

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.”

 

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Reports from Vancouver indicate Jeff Carter could play against Canucks

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.

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Looking ahead to the Kings’ game Tuesday against the woebegone Sabres

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).

 

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Three things about the Kings’ 2-1 shootout victory over the Oilers

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:

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Overlooked statistics from the Kings’ victory Thursday over the Coyotes

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:

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Coyotes captain Shane Doan talks about the Kings’ Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards

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.

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