Reign want game to keep trending right way in Tucson - LA Kings Insider

It hasn’t been pretty at times but if the last two games are any indication then the Reign’s game is trending in the right direction.

As the Reign (3-1-2-0, .667 winning percentage) are in Tucson tonight and Saturday for the first-ever games against the Pacific Division-leading Roadrunners (4-1-1-0, .750) the goal is to extend that trend.

“We played two pretty good games in a row now. I think that the newer guys are buying in,” forward Paul Bissonnette said. “It’s fun to play on our team when we’re playing like that. We’re like a machine.”

In hind sight as well the bouncing around of goalies hasn’t helped in the consistency category. The debut of Anders Lindback tonight, who was first off the ice at morning skate, could provide some experience and stability the team has lacked while it has watched the Kings pluck out their netminders Peter Budaj and Jack Campbell due to injuries.

“I feel good about myself and I’m just going to go out there and enjoy it,” Lindback said.

Lindback will want to see the team from the last two games in front of him, too.

In their second, third and fourth games, all high-scoring affairs that drew the ire of head coach Mike Stothers, the five players in front of the goaltender weren’t playing to the team’s collective standard. Ontario followed a 6-5 OT win against Texas on Oct. 21 with a 5-4 OT loss to San Jose the next day. Their first game of their three-in-three trip last weekend resulted in a 5-4 loss to Texas.

Enough was enough.

“I think we were getting caught up in ‘they’ve got skill so we’ve got to match them in a track meet.’ That’s not us. We play a hard game, we wear teams down. [I] got back in and trying to set the example,” said the veteran Bissonnette, a healthy scratch last Friday. “I know typically I’m not going to bring a lot offensively but playing the right way, being on the right side of pucks, frustrating teams that want to do that up-and-down the ice. We took that away from them. They ended up winning but nonetheless it was a good start to the weekend and to the season to show us how we should be playing. And then we brought that right in to San Antonio and it was good, Stuttsy was happy.”

The conclusion of the trip that Bissonnette speaks of is the gritty 2-1 OT loss to Texas on Saturday and then an important 4-2 win against San Antonio the following afternoon to close out the weekend.

“I was real happy with the way we played,” Stothers said on Wednesday. “I thought that was more the style, the brand that we’ve come to expect from our guys. It’s a fun way to play. It’s hard, but it’s fun and we stressed the last couple of days in practice to continue in that manner.”

Tucson presents the next challenge. In the first of 12 meetings this season against – for all intents and purposes – a brand new opponent, Stothers has a few points of emphasis, including the need to have a good start at the 7:05 p.m. puck drop.

“We’ve got a good core group, we’ve got some good veteran guys,” Stothers said after morning skate. “I think our club will be ready to go right from the opening faceoff. … [Tucson] is a team that gets stronger as the game goes on. I think that’s part of the opportunities presented to them. If they get some special teams it gets them going. They know because their power play’s good that they’re never out of it. Even though they’ve fallen behind in some games of the pre-scouts we saw against Stockton, as much as by three goals, they never get rattled or discouraged. They just keep playing and getting their opportunities and when they get their opportunities they’re good at finishing.

“We’re looking for a real good matchup here. I think it’s an exciting time. We’ve got a number of meetings with these guys this year, maybe, perhaps this rivalry will develop into something as exciting and and fun and entertaining as the matchups we have with San Diego.”