The Kings obviously weren’t thrilled with what transpired during Wednesday’s season-opening loss, and after Thursday’s practice they shared their opinions on how to string together a stronger effort in Saturday’s game at Arizona.
Obviously the game was only one out of 82 on the year. There’s no panic or despair or frustration, only disappointment in the failure to follow up a special moment in team history with a performance that matched the pageantry.
“I don’t know if we spent it all in the ceremony,” Darryl Sutter said. “Quite honest, it was one of the few times that I haven’t gotten the right read on the team. Maybe the only time. I can always tell if they’re a little off or something. Even during the game, there were times where we could create it and make it, but then it was like a penalty or a mistake or something, and then it would ebb again. At the end of the night, they didn’t need that many opportunities to get a three-goal lead.”
Heading into this weekend’s back-to-back slate – well, the Kings aren’t really focused on the back-to-back aspect.
“I think first and foremost we want to win the first game, and then you go from there,” Jonathan Quick said.
Wednesday’s performance will be a motivating factor to get the collective performance back up to regular season levels.
“Obviously it’s not something that you just kind of let go,” Quick continued. “Like mistakes, you’ve got to get better at it. It’s not preseason anymore. It wasn’t our best hockey last night, and there are obviously a lot of things we have to work on to continue to get better, but even if we had won that game, we’d be saying the same thing. We’d still be saying we have things we have to work on to get better. It’s part of the season. It’s not something you just forget about, it’s something you have to learn from.”
One potential adjustment could be a recalibration of the team’s lines. There were no line rushes during the off-day practice, but based on color coding, Justin Williams skated alongside Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown skated alongside Dwight King and Jarret Stoll, and Mike Richards was moved in between Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan. Andy Andreoff was coded with the unaffected Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli line.
It’s a bit misleading to categorize Richards as a “fourth line center,” considering he ranked fourth amongst the team’s forwards in ice time last season and is used in all situations.
Still, it would be an interesting development should he open return to action this weekend alongside role players in Clifford and Nolan during even strength play. A greater feel for this weekend’s alignment will come during morning skates on Saturday and Sunday.