The 2013 NHL preseason continues tonight at Staples Center as the Los Angeles Kings (1-2-1) host the Anaheim Ducks (3-2-0) at 7:30 p.m. Prime Ticket will carry Bob Miller and Jim Fox’s account of the game, while Nick Nickson and Daryl Evans’ broadcast will be aired by KTLK AM 1150 and I Heart Radio.
— Jack Wilson (@JACKaWILSON) September 24, 2013
-The projected Kings lineup:
Dwight King – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Matt Frattin – Mike Richards – Jeff Carter
Kyle Clifford – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Daniel Carcillo – Colin Fraser – Jordan Nolan
Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell – Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez – Matt Greene
Ben Scrivens / Mathieu Garon
-My, what a veteran-heavy lineup you have there. Tonight’s game represents the only full-squad exhibition game at Staples Center, so it’s important for the roster regulars to re-establish their home game day routine.
“You can’t count a splitsquad game as a preseason game, and with our schedule the way it is, our games in Vegas are home games for us. So this is really our home game,” Darryl Sutter said. “When you only play once – we don’t come home until the sixth – it’s important the older guys, the veteran guys go through their prep and get used to the home thing again.”
For Justin Williams, that familiar preparation at home has been beneficial.
“Well, the last few years we’ve been quite successful, for good reason, on home ice. We’ve taken care of it,” he said. “Regardless of whether it’s playoffs, regular season or preseason, you need to do the same every time you go out there.”
Do you know who isn’t familiar with Staples Center game preparation? Ben Scrivens. He has never played at the Kings home arena and was part of the traveling contingent during the split-squad showdown with Phoenix. The only anecdote that had been passed along to him about Staples Center was that it was “kind of dark,” and that notice was provided several years ago.
“Thankfully the rinks are all the same size, the net’s the same size. The puck weighs the same amount, so the game is pretty uniform,” Scrivens said. “So if you just focus on what’s going on on the ice, you can kind of let all the other stuff dissolve into the background a little bit and don’t pay attention to it too much.”
Scrivens left the ice at relatively the same time as Mathieu Garon, and both goaltenders skated with the non-playing contingent, which included captain Dustin Brown. Expect Quick to go the distance tonight.
-Tonight’s game marks the first game Willie Mitchell will play at Staples Center since June 11, 2012 – not that the elder statesman in the dressing room is making much of a fuss over it.
“I said earlier, it’s not really a big deal for me. I think I’ve cleared some hurdles so far, and I just said that to Darryl. I’ve cleared some hurdles, but I still have some more to go…I need to play some more games and see how things respond not just after one game, after multiple games. Playing tonight. Playing a back-to-back probably in Vegas, and doing all those things. Tonight’s not – I hate to say that – it’s just another preseason game. I think, to be quite honest, the first one I played in Colorado was a good feeling. The best feeling would be if things continue the road they’re on, getting to the home opener. I know we’re on the road to start, but that first game, that’ll feel good. Tonight is just, like I said, it’s the same as everyone else does as a pro, is just continuing to work on my game, trying to improve, be a better teammate and be a better player.”
Mitchell isn’t having much difficulty re-cultivating his chemistry with Slava Voynov.
“It’s pretty easy. It’s not ‘easy’ missing 15 months, but I think sometimes people make it out to be bigger than what it is. We’ve all done it so long, and once you get back into it you tend to find your reads really quick, It’s more about finding your legs than finding your timing, you know? He’s a good player, so it makes it easier. We’ll just keep improving with it,” he said.
-From upstairs, it appeared as though Dwight King contributed with a strong performance last Friday night, and Darryl Sutter agreed. “He had a good game in Colorado,” Sutter said.
“I’m still up in air on our left wing, perfectly honest. It’s not about Dwight King…The only guy that is set where he’s going to play is Frattin. But other than that, with Brownie being out, it’s left basically Kopitar-Williams, Stoll-Lewis, Fraser-Nolan, and after that, I’ll let it just play out.”
Looking at the potential alignments that also include Brown playing with Kopitar and Williams, it’s clear that there are more options than there are spaces available.
“Well, there’s options, but you also have a roster,” Sutter said. “It’s not really ‘options,’ it’s the same guys. Where are they going to play? And, quite honest, they all can’t play. If we were healthy going into the season, there’s Dwight King, Kyle Clifford, Dan Carcillo. They’re all not going to be in the lineup.”
Here’s Justin Williams describing the experience of playing with King:
-Though Brown is out for tonight’s game, he skated with tonight’s scratches after the morning skate.
As he took the ice, Sutter clarified his comments from yesterday that “if he doesn’t get any exhibition games, I’d say it’s highly unlikely that you’ve got a player that’s ready for the season.”
On Tuesday, Sutter stated that he’d “prefer” Brown was able to get into an exhibition game.
“I’d prefer he had five games, right? Either way, even if he has one, he’s not going to be up to speed. If he doesn’t have any, he’s not going to be up to speed. That’s not good.”
It’s somewhat similar to Anze Kopitar arriving to camp last season with a knee injury sustained while playing in Sweden’s second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan.
“Well, the difference there is he’d say they were playing games in Europe, but really he didn’t have a hard game since June,” Sutter said.
-Alec Martinez will play tonight and spoke with Daryl Evans following the morning skate:
–Sutter, on the 82-game schedule:
The density of this schedule is just as tough as it was last year. If you do it, it’s even tougher, to be quite honest. And then you add in the unknowns of the way they gave us the imbalance in the schedule, meaning division’s two-threes…14 back-to-backs. I know how it breaks down more than 82, and then you add in potential gold medal players – not Olympic players, gold medal players – on our team that are going to play significant. I’d like to think we can play over a hundred games this year…The schedule starts on the first, we start on the third. We’re done on the sixth, the February schedule runs ‘til the eighth. So it’s not first-‘til-the-eighth that you count your days. It’s third-‘til-the-sixth. So just do it.
-Finally, here’s Justin Williams showing off his stickhandling ability as the team took the ice: