Lineup change, and one before the break
After today’s morning skate, Darryl Sutter confirmed that Kevin Westgarth would go into the lineup in place of Trent Hunter, on the fourth line with Kyle Clifford and Colin Fraser. In explaining the swap, Sutter said, “The fourth line has been sort of off on the energy part of it here, so we’ll see if we can get a different look.’’ Westgarth, a healthy scratch from the previous seven games, will be back in the lineup for the first time since Jan. 7. Tonight’s game is notable for the Kings for a couple reasons. First, it’s their last game before an eight-day break, and it’s also the 50th game of the season, a (somewhat arbitrary) point at which a team can measure where is stands. Sutter was asked today what message he would send to the team today, about finishing strong before the lengthy break…
SUTTER: “It’s not necessarily that. We’re finishing (a stretch of) lots of games in a short period of time. I sort of use the last game (for motivation), in terms of, guys can play better. We know they can play better and they know they can play better. That’s more of the message.
“I look at it as tonight is Game 50, not that there’s a break. Tomorrow will be a harder day for the players than today is. Tonight is Game 50, and where are you? How does that mathematically equate to, say, where you were last year at this point? Or what it’s going to take it set it up for those last 32, what you’re going to have to have. Whatever that number is going to be, in terms of being a playoff team, we’re a team that’s going to finish 50 (games) tonight. Then you should be able to sort of figure what you have to have.’’