When Jeff Carter went down with his ankle injury, Brad Richardson took his spot in the lineup. Richardson, though, had been preparing to play for days before Carter even got hurt. Richardson had participated in pregame warmups prior to the two previous games, even though he ended up being a healthy scratch. That decision ended up being fortuitous for Darryl Sutter. It allowed Richardson to get into a game-day routine, after a lengthy stint as a healthy scratch, and it eased Richardson’s return to the lineup when Carter did get hurt and Richardson was needed. Davis Drewiske is now going through the same thing. Drewiske has been a healthy scratch from 20 consecutive games, but he participated in today’s post-skate meeting and will probably take pregame warmups as well. That way, if the Kings end up needing Drewiske at some point, the transition back into the lineup won’t be as stark. At least that’s the theory under which Sutter operates.

SUTTER: “The number-one thing is, even if they’re not playing, they have to practice like they’re preparing to play. If they are practicing like that, then the next step is to put them into a routine on game day and game night. Put them in the warmup, and then the next thing is to get them in the lineup. We talked to Brad about it. He wasn’t very happy about it. Heck, I don’t blame him. When you’re not playing, you better not be happy, but you still better work your butt off in practice, and if the coaches tell you that we want you to start preparing to play, then you have to go through it, to reinforce it in your mind. That’s what he did. I told him, `If you go back in, you might be playing on our top line.’ That’s the way it works, at this time of year. So he went back in with Kopi and Brownie.

Before the Minnesota game, I said, `How many top chances did you have (against Edmonton)?’ He said, `Three or four.’ I said, `No, you had four. Not three or four. You had four. So you’ve got to score when you have those chances to play in there. Otherwise you’re hurting our team.’ He could have had three in Minnesota. If you ask him, he had two but he should have had three. That’s how you have to look at it. OK is not OK. We’re trying to make the playoffs. We’re trying to make everybody better. OK is not OK.’’

Question: Is that where Drewiske is right now, also?

SUTTER: “It’s the same. You have to look at it, you have to prepare like that. He has to get back into that. Because at some point we’re going to need him.’’

After today’s skate, Richardson talked about his return to the lineup. Richardson scored two goals on Saturday in Minnesota, and talked about trying to get back up to game speed

RICHARDSON: “It’s not easy. It’s something that I don’t think any player wants to (be scratched), especially at this time of year, playoff time. This is the time of the year that’s really fun. Everyone looks forward to this. It’s definitely not fun, but it’s a chance for you to sit back and watch what’s going on in a game and work out hard. But it’s never easy.’’

Question: Did the second game feel more comfortable for you than the first game (in Edmonton)?

RICHARDSON: “Better results for sure, as far as personally. But even in the Edmonton game, there was a bunch of chances that I had, to score. They blocked about 15 shots that I tried to take. It’s just one of those nights. It went better in Minnesota, but I’m looking forward to tonight again. Playing with those guys, they’re very easy to play with, so you just try to get open and work hard for them.’’

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