Because of last night’s late arrival, and tonight’s game, the Kings did not have a morning skate but held a team meeting at the hotel. It’s not known if Darryl Sutter will make any lineup changes tonight, although one would think there’s a strong possibility that Jonathan Bernier will start in goal. As discussed a couple days ago, there hasn’t been much hands-on practice time for Sutter. This is essentially his ninth day on the job, and in that span the Kings have had five games, one practice day, two league-mandated holiday days and one travel day. That’s not exactly ideal for a new coach, but Sutter said he wasn’t worried about his level of familiarity with his new players. There hasn’t been much practice time, but Sutter has made a noticeable effort to communicate with players during the game. Sutter was asked to share why type of things he might communicate to a player during the game, between shifts.
SUTTER: “It’s mostly those little things in the system that they’re used to, where we’re trying to be a little more assertive in parts of the game, where we can get the puck back quicker instead of waiting to see what the other team is going to do. There’s parts of the when you’ve got the puck and then we’ve got the puck. The style that we want to move toward is just a little less time and space in parts of the ice.
“They don’t have any bad habits. It’s just a little different style for them. It’s hard to adjust, especially for the defensemen. You have to remember that when Murph [Terry Murray] came here, they were an awful defensive team. So it was all about that structure, and getting back and protecting and all that. We still want to do that, but we want to be more assertive in areas where it’s a 50-50 puck, or it’s nobody’s puck. We’ve got to be more assertive, instead of letting (the other team) get it and then going into coverage.’’
It’s early, of course, but one player Sutter seems to have reached is Drew Doughty, who has turned in a handful of strong games consecutively. On the points side of things, Doughty has five assists in four games under Sutter. He had totaled five points in his previous 18 games.
SUTTER: “For as long as I’ve been here, a couple games, he’s got an assist or a couple assists every night, and he has played a lot of minutes. He’s going to have to do that, to be involved as a player and play against everybody’s top players. That’s how he’s going to evolve as a player, and I’m committed to that. It’s not so much Drew. I really want Doughty, Johnson and Voynov all to play a lot. I know that’s going to, at times, come with some problems, but they’re all playing with veteran partners, and that’s got to help, and we’ll live with that.’’