Morning skate notes: Kings working to improve defensive strategy
LOS ANGELES — Back at Staples Center and down 0-2 to San Jose in the playoffs after two of the most disastrous games they’ve played all season, the Kings are desperately trying to diagnose and fix whatever it is that seems to be ailing the team.
The Kings fell to 0-2 in the series after dressing seven defensemen in Game 2, in San Jose. It was a puzzling move for some, and defenseman Drew Doughty didn’t think it was as effective as they initially thought it would be.
"We lost big time, so obviously that didn’t go too well," Doughty said. "I didn’t like it too much but it’s not my decision. Whatever they decide as a team I just have to go along with it and accept it. If they dress seven again tonight, I’m totally fine with it. I just have to play my game and make a difference out there."
The new rotation of the defensemen threw some off. Doughty played 23 minutes and Alec Martinez just under 11. By all accounts, it was a failed experiment.
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"I think everyone gets out of a rhythm when you dress seven D for sure," Doughty said. "I only played 23 minutes and that’s like the lowest I’ve played in who knows how long. I want to be playing 28-30 minutes."
Doughty would play even more than that if they let him, especially in the postseason. The shoulder injury he suffered in the final weeks of the season is of no concern to the Kings’ top defenseman and the ultra-competitive player wants to see as much time on the ice as possible.
"I’ve always wanted to play more," he said. "Sometimes they think they play me too much and I’m tired in certain situations but I know I’m not tired. I can play 40 minutes if they really want me to and I’ll be fine. I want to play every single second out there but I understand that that’s just not possible."
Other notes from morning skate:
— It’s obvious that in their first two postseason games, the Kings haven’t been playing their staunch, physical defensive style. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the breakdowns have occurred, but center Jarret Stoll said it starts in the neutral zone.
"It’s a combination of a lot of things but the neutral zone was a big thing," Stoll said. "Turning the pucks over is not what we’re all about and for some reason, that’s what we’ve been doing. Playing the game in the neutral zone like I said and just giving our goaltender way too many shots and way too many good quality chances. We’ve just got to get back to our good stingy, defensive game."
— Head coach Darryl Sutter said some line changes may be possible now that the team is back on home ice.
"Well, we’re in better position than we were last game to decide," Sutter said. "Hopefully we can do it not after warm-up."
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— It’s obvious that the Kings haven’t played their style of game. San Jose has turned it into a track meet and that’s not how Los Angeles wins games. Getting back to their own style is has to be a definitive mindset.
"Give them some credit but you know, just making the decision to do it," Stoll said. "We have to defend. We’ve gotten good opportunities and chances from that all year long, from playing good stingy defense, being hard to play against, being physical to play against and not the running kind of stuff that we’ve been doing, that they’ve been showing."