Darryl Sutter’s eyes flashed bright yesterday when I brought up the idea that the Kings needed to improve their home record. Turns out, it’s been a major theme — perhaps the major theme — for Sutter since his arrival last month. Under Sutter, the Kings are 4-0-1 at home. Before his arrival, they were 7-8-1 at Staples Center. Coincidence? Perhaps it’s that the Kings, in general, have looked better under Sutter, but Justin Williams said Sutter has made playing well at home a daily theme for the team…
WILLIAMS: “Every day on the board, it’s `homers, homers, homers.’ He didn’t make us feel bad, but he made us upset that we lost that point to Colorado. He said, `We let one slip there. Let’s make sure we push right back and get it tonight.’ We’ve established a pretty decent home record, but we want Staples Center to be a harder place to play.’’
Williams also addressed some of the changes Sutter has brought, in terms of subtle team-building. Rather than players trickling off the ice, one or two at a time, after practice, for the most part they now leave the ice as a group, and then have a full-team meeting in the locker-room area after removing gear.
WILLIAMS: “It’s just something different. It keeps us fresh and it keeps us on our toes. We’re enjoying the up-tempo style that he’s bringing, and we’re excited about what he’s bringing, that enthusiasm. We’re feeding off that, and we’re excited. I think you can tell in practice. Guys are smiling, guys are excited and guys are skating out there pretty hard. His enthusiasm is rubbing off on us.’’
Finally, Williams talked about the importance of avoiding a “trap game’’ tomorrow. It’s a day game, against the team (Columbus) with the fewest points in the NHL.
WILLIAMS: “I hate to go to the `two points’ thing, but they’re just as important tomorrow as they are in the 81 games. We can’t afford to let anything slip. We know where we stand. Yeah, we’re six points out of first but we’re also two points out of ninth. So it’s a fine line. You win a couple in a row and you’re in there, but we’ve got to keep the push going and get ourselves where we want to be. We want to be comfortable and keep pushing forward.’’