Hopefully, the first 15 hours of 2012 is treating everyone well. The Kings didn’t go on the ice today, but Jim Fox and I caught up with Darryl Sutter, who was still at work with the assistant coaches, a copy of this morning’s NHL statistics in his hand. Sutter was asked about his new-look lines from last night — Mike RIchards moved to the first line, at left wing alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, while Andrei Loktionov moved back to center on a line with Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis — and Sutter referenced Richards’ work as a left winger during the 2010 Olympics, when he won a gold medal with Canada. Actually, during last summer, the Kings had traded for Richards and were in pursuit of Brad Richards. The Kings sought, and got, an OK from Mike Richards that he would move to left wing if they acquired Brad Richards.
SUTTER: “Richie played on left wing in the Olympics, and I told him, `You got (Sidney) Crosby going.’ [laughs] I don’t mind, if we can keep Lokti dialed in, detailed, (playing) three zones with the puck and without the puck. He’s a skilled guy, and it should give us an extra dimension. He can play left wing. If we can get Lewie and Brad playing assertive, they’re quick guys. To be quite honest, Jarret’s line and Lokti’s line were really good last night. That, to me, was the difference in the game, from a forward standpoint, was those two lines. It wasn’t anything special that Kopi’s line did. It was those two lines that played really good.
“We’re at home for a few games too. That’s part of coaching. You can put those guys in position and take advantage of it. It’s sort of their opportunity to make it work. You don’t have a problem with Kopi, Brownie and Richie against anybody. They should be able to do what you want. When they’re on top of their game, and they’re playing the way they’re supposed to, they can settle in. Jarret’s line, they know they have to play against top lines. I don’t look at it as second, third or fourth lines. I don’t like that. I just think that they’re going to get the opportunity, in the next few games, to prove that they can play 5-on-5 minutes.”
Sutter was also asked about Greene’s role…
SUTTER: “He’s a heart-and-soul guy. There’s an intangible thing there that we’re trying to pull out of the guys a little bit more, and he’s going to be a big part of that. I think a player like Jack can really feed off and learn from a guy like Greener. You look at how these guys are paired, Robbie with Drew, Mitch with Slava — or, if you put another kid in, that’s where they would probably go — and I want Jack Johnson to be that complete guy, and he can learn a lot from a guy like Greener. Even though it’s a different (skill) set, it’s still the same mindset, being hard to play against, move pucks, defend well. I coached against Greener before I knew him, and I know the heart-and-soul guy that he is, and that’s important for our team.’”