The Kings didn’t take the ice at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday morning, though Darryl Sutter spoke with several reporters and broadcasters during Minnesota’s morning skate. During a condensed stretch of 18 games in 35 days, and with Los Angeles about to play the second half of a back-to-back set – they’re 9-1-1 in those games this season – Sutter was asked today about keeping players fresh some 70-plus games into the season, and what has influenced the team’s play during challenging portions of the schedule.
Darryl Sutter, on keeping players fresh 70-plus games into the season:
Well, we’ve already played a back-to-back in this stretch, so this is another one. There’s been a lot of travel. You know, you just can’t use it as an excuse. Quite honest, our top end, you keep your top end as fresh as you can, and they’re the guys who ultimately drive the bus. If you get into a big stretch of games, what you need is your foot soldiers, any given line to do some digging and have a good game. They’re as important as your stars. When you don’t have a good one in that stretch, always they have to pull the weight. You need it very clearly. It’s a long year. This is , so when you’ve played 72, and we’ve used 11 defensemen, 17 or 18 forwards, I’ll tell you what, there’s 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 forwards, they better pull their weight. They’re not just going out there to go up and down the ice. Go up and down the ice, they better go out there and do something in terms of whether it brings some energy or score a big goal or a big hit or a fight or whatever it is, they better do something. Otherwise they’re not doing their job.
Sutter, on depth’s influence on the second night of back-to-backs:
Yeah, I think it’s a lot of things. We really haven’t had much of a four-line team this year. Very seldom, if you look at it. I don’t think that’s really been that big a part of it. It’s our ability to check that wins us a lot of games. The power play’s been for the most part really good all year and has scored big goals for us. I mean, we’ve got three great players, Quick, Doughty and Kopitar, so there are nights where that’s the difference, too.
Sutter, on whether he has liked the team’s recent looks on the power play:
Yeah, we were really good last night, just didn’t score. We haven’t had many lately. One or two – what did we have last night, three? [Reporter: Four.] Hey, that’s what I said, the power play is checking. … Hey, the power play could’ve tied it up last night, and it damn near did.