BACK AT IT
The Kings held an optional practice at Scottrade Center on Wednesday. 12 skaters got on the ice with goaltender Jonathan Bernier: Matt Greene, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Keaton Ellerby, Tyler Toffoli, Colin Fraser, Dwight King, Kyle Clifford, Dustin Penner, Jordan Nolan, Trevor Lewis and Brad Richardson.
Robyn Regehr toughed out a broken nose suffered when the heel of David Backes’ skate caught him in the face during a battle behind the Kings’ net early in the third period. Regehr acknowledged his luck in that it wasn’t any part of the skate blade that made contact with his face.
On the number of broken noses he has suffered in his NHL career, Regehr kept a sense of humor.
“I’ve stopped counting,” he said.
GREENE A GO?
Darryl Sutter was asked after practice about what would influence his decision to re-insert Matt Greene into the lineup.
“If he’s healthy,” Sutter responded.
Greene suffered an undisclosed injury in the loss to Detroit on April 24 that has kept him “day-to-day” over the previous week. It prevented the Kings from continuing to break in the veteran defenseman to late-season hockey after he returned from a back injury that had limited his 2011-12 regular season time on ice to 76 minutes and 26 seconds.
Sutter acknowledged that getting Greene acclimated to the pace of playoff hockey was also a consideration.
“It’s not just healthy, but he’s got to be up to speed. He needed about 10 games, to be quite honest,” Sutter said. “You just don’t put him in the lineup because he’s Matt Greene. Matt Greene has to be able to play and perform. We were hoping to get more games, quite honest, from him before, and he got banged up. We’ll see. I’m quite happy playing those two kids (Muzzin and Ellerby) because they’re both very capable, too.”
On Muzzin and Ellerby, Sutter thought the pair grew into their minutes after a trial-by-fire first period.
“Well Keaton had actually played a few minutes one (playoff) game – he got hurt actually, he said, in Florida – last year. So really, it was both their first games, and as a pair, early in the game, it looked like it was their first games, and that’s not a criticism. You know what…they both played a lot better as the game went on, but at the same time it put a lot of pressure on the other four guys early, and…a big reason why we spent so much time in our own zone was those kids had trouble early in the game.”
MORE FROM FOUR
Darryl Sutter wasn’t surprised by the performance of St. Louis’ fourth line of Ryan Reaves, Chris Porter and Adam Cracknell, which had built up a reputation late in the season of providing hungry, relentless minutes while showing a knack for providing secondary scoring. The three combined for 18 hits even though none of them played more than 11:41 in the overtime win.
Sutter was blunt about what he’s looking for from his own “grittier” players.
“Some of the boys that play on our fourth line have to play like big boys.”
“Our fourth line has been interchangeable because, quite honest, some of the kids haven’t played very well. I know everybody goes back to last year, but those kids that we brought up last year have not played very well this year, so we were hoping for them to play better now and better in a hurry.”