February 4, 2013 10:15 am

Tightening up defensively

Teams always want to open a long trip with a win, and considering the road-heavy schedule that takes the Kings away from Southern California for seven of the next eight games, they’ll look to use Tuesday’s game against Columbus as a catalyst towards success in February and to set up the remainder of their Staples Center-heavy schedule.

Though it hasn’t been a major concern for one of the stingiest NHL teams of the last several years – especially considering Thursday’s game against Nashville in which they allowed 11 shots in regulation – the team discussed ways to tighten up defensively after allowing three power play goals in Anaheim on Saturday and seven goals total.

Drew Doughty, on the team’s outlook following Saturday’s loss:
“Obviously, we lost the game overall. That’s the biggest thing. We have to pick up our socks, and this road trip’s huge for us right now.”

Doughty, on the penalty kill, which has traditionally been a team strength:
“PK was not good [Saturday] night. We all know that. All of us that are on the PK, we feel responsible for that, and we’re not happy about it. So we’re going to definitely get back to that. Like you said, the PK has been a cornerstone of this franchise for every year I’ve been here, so for the last for or five years. We need to get back to that 90%, you know, letting maybe one in every 10 games or something like that. We’re not happy with that.”

Doughty, on the absence of Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene:
“Those two are two great players. Both usually first D-pairing out there on the PK. But we can’t make excuses like that. We realize they aren’t going to be in the lineup, and other guys have got to step up and take over that job. Like I said, no excuses. Whether they’re in or out, we’ve got to do a better job. That’s for sure.”

Doughty, on the development he’s made in his own end of the ice:
“I think I’ve gotten a lot better in my own zone. I think I’m hitting better. I’m making bigger hits. I’m not getting beat one-on-one. I’m stronger below the goal line. The only thing I feel I haven’t been great with this season so far is making plays behind my goal line. Sometime I’ve created a few turnovers for goals. Besides that, I feel good in my own zone and am happy with where I’m at and just want to get better.”

Doughty, on his open-ice hit on Teemu Selanne:
“I thought it was a clean hit. You know, it wasn’t like I went there and tried to kill him, either. I just tried to finish my check, and he was kind of in a vulnerable position, so he went flying. I’m trying to look to do that. A big hit’s a momentum booster for the team, so if I can gain some momentum that way, I’ll do as much as I can.”

Trevor Lewis, on his line’s forechecking:
“I think that’s what our line needs to focus on that more. I think that’s what we were so good at in the playoffs. I think we were starting to do a better job at it, and you we just need to keep getting better as to where we were.”

Lewis, on what he’d like to see improve in the forwards’ defensive responsibilities:
“We can’t turn over pucks. Like, earlier, we’ve got to be good on forecheck and so we play down in their end instead of ours. To do that, we need to be good in the defensive zone and be quicker and just kind of tighten up everything. I think going into it, we just need to tighten up all around our game.”

The team is currently en route to Columbus. More to come from Ohio…

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